On one occasion the Buddha addressed his disciples:
On another occasion he said:
from this one can see that the Buddha's path is a path of
understanding. The understanding aimed at is not mere conceptual
knowledge or a collection of information. Rather it is an insight
into the true nature of our existence. This understanding brings
liberation, the release of the mind from all bonds and fetters
and issues in the cessation of Dukkha or suffering.
The Buddha offers us
the Dhamma as a search light that we can focus on our own
experience in order to understand it in correct perspective.
To understand our experience or our existence, involves two
We have to look into the makeup of our being to see what
our existence consists of, we have to take it apart mentally,
to see how it works, then put it together again and see how
it holds together.
We have to examine our experience in order to discover
its most pervasive features, the universal characteristics
In this lesson you will study the first of these steps, examining
the five aggregates of clinging. In the following lesson you
will learn about the universal characteristics of phenomena — impermanence,
unsatisfactoriness and egolessness.
The Five Aggregates Of Clinging
To begin with we must treat our experience analytically, dissecting
our being, our own individuality.
What we are — our being or personality — is, the
Buddha reveals, a composite of five factors: the five aggregates
of clinging. They are called this because they form the basis
for clinging. Whatever we cling to can be found amongst the
individual being is merely a complex unity of the five
The Buddha says that the five aggregates have to be
fully understood. This is the first Noble Truth, the truth
of Dukkha. The five aggregates are our burden, but at
the same time they provide us with the indispensable
soil of wisdom. To bring suffering to an end we have to turn
our attention around and see into the nature of the aggregates.
bring suffering to an end we have to see into the nature
of the aggregates.
In order to not cling to the aggregates you should be mindful
of them at all times. And the tools we use for observing five
aggregates of clinging are effort, concentration, mindfulness,
and some basic knowledge of the Four Noble Truths and of the
impermanent, non-satisfactory and non-self nature of the five
aggregates of clinging.
We will now explore the five aggregates:
The material side of existence Material form
The mental side of existence Feelings
This includes all the material factors of existence — every
type of material phenomena. The most important of these is
the body, the physical organism
through which one experiences the world. The Buddha groups
the aggregate of material form into primary elements and
Four primary elements — earth, water, heat and
air For Buddhists these do not literally refer to the
natural earth, water, fire and air. Rather they symbolize
four behavioral properties of matter common to all material
phenomena, the properties that every material body exhibits.
All material phenomena possess these four elements to some
degree. What distinguishes them is the proportion in which
the primary elements are combined.
Secondary forms of matter
There are a number of secondary types of matter, material forms
derived from the primary elements:
Five sensory receptors.
The sense faculties, eye, ear, nose, tongue and body.
The first four sense data.
Colors, sounds, smells and taste are also secondary types
of matter. The touch sensation however, is provided by
the primary elements themselves.
The faculty which vitalizes the body and keeps it alive.
Organs and nerve tissues which function as support for consciousness
in the thought process.