The True Nature of Existence —
The Five Aggregates Of Clinging

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Qualities of the Dharma
The Four Noble Truths
The Noble Eightfold Path
The True Nature of Existence
  The Five Aggregates of Clinging
  Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta
  Dependent Arising
  Kamma, Nibbana and Rebirth


The Sangha
The Buddhist Sangha



The mind for Buddhists is not a simple unity, but a complex cooperative activity involving four factors: feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness.


We feel all experience as pleasant, painful or neutral.

Feeling is the mental factor that has the function of experiencing the 'flavor' of the object, the effective quality of the object. There are three basic types of feelings: pleasant, painful and neutral feeling. Feeling can further be subdivided by way of the sense faculty through which it originates: feeling which arises by contact with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind, which amounts to eighteen types of feeling (three kinds each through six sense faculties).


The mental act of grasping the distinguishing qualities of the object. Perception takes note of the object's features, it identifies and  notes. Perception is divided into six categories by way of the sense  objects that it takes note of:

  • Perception of form
  • Perception of sound
  • Perception of smell
  • Perception of taste
  • Perception of touch
  • Perception of ideas

Mental formations

Will is the mental factor which arouses us to act by way of body or speech.

This comprehensive group contains a number of volitional factors. While many are mentioned, the most important is volition or will. This is the mental factor which arouses us to act by way of body or speech. Mental formations also include all different desires and  emotions, including the wholesome and unwholesome roots. These are the basic psychological roots of unwholesome actions: greed hatred and delusion, and the basic roots of wholesome  actions: generosity, loving kindness and wisdom. 


Consciousness is the key factor of the mind. It is the basic awareness of the object, the light of awareness which makes all experience possible. Consciousness is divided into six types by way of its basis:

  • Consciousness makes all experience possible.

    eye consciousness — cognizes visual objects.

  • ear consciousness — cognizes sound

  • nose consciousness — cognizes smell

  • tongue consciousness — cognizes taste

  • body consciousness — cognizes tangible sensations

  • mind consciousness — cognizes objects of outer senses such as sights, sounds, etc as well  as mental objects such as ideas, concepts, images, abstract notions etc.

Consciousness seems similar to perception, but these two perform  different functions. Consciousness is the general awareness of objects, while perception is the specific factor which grasps the object's distinctive qualities.

To fully understand the five aggregates means to see them as they really are, and this means to see them in terms of the three  characteristics of existence. In the next lesson you will learn about these three characteristics — impermanence, unsatisfactoriness or suffering, and  selflessness or non-self.