What are you made of? According to Buddhism, people are made of five aggregates, or “heaps.” These are known in Sanskrit as the skandhas. They are referred to as heaps because they’re merely collections of parts without any central core. The five skandhas are:
Your physical body—traditionally, these are listed as the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind.
The sensations you experience in your body, including all pain and pleasure.
You have sense organs, and each of them has objects. Put them together—eye and light, nose and smell, etc.—and you have perception.
4. Mental formations
All your concepts and thoughts, from the most mundane to the most grandiose.
Simply put, this is your awareness of skandhas 1 through 4.
With reflection and practice, you can begin to understand that all of these are fleeting. Like all conditioned phenomena, the five skandhas are subject to change and decay. When you are at peace with this fact, you can be free from suffering.
- What is Khandha? Ajahn Punnadhammo defines the Pali equivalent of the word skandha
- How Your Mind Works: Gaylon Ferguson on the five skandhas