Buddhist teachings use the model of the five aggregates to describe the material and mental conditions that come together to create human experience. These five aggregates include materiality, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. When we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think, or experience any event, an intricate interaction of mind and body occurs enabling us to cognize the experience and perceive “that is a sound”, or “that is a cold sensation”. When this dynamic process is affected by clinging, we might reinforce an idea of being the person to whom experience is happening. We might make an “I” out of experience or conceive of experience as being “mine”. To investigate self-grasping we look carefully at moments of contact. What happens as you encounter the world of the senses? What is the difference between a mindful encounter with any experience in life or meditation, and the drama of conceiving of self through those experiences? I-making and mine-making are actions—something that we do. Insight comes when we notice the times when we make self. Are you doing it now?

For several weeks this spring at our weekly meditation group we will be exploring issues of self and not-self in the Buddha’s teachings. Click this link for a pdf of a chart of the five aggregates.