Five skhandhas and the Senses
Origin is dependent on cause and being is a convention comprised of five psycho-physical components known as khandha :
1) the supporting or the solid (earth);
2) the binding or the cohesive (water) ;
3) the heating or temperature (fire);
4) the motion or movement (wind);
5) feelings, perception and consciousness.
The five khandha are best viewed as symbiotic relationships between the physical first four khandha and the fifth, consciousness. Consciousness can not exist without the physical world and the physical world can not exist without consciousness. In this way we perceive being as a kind of echo that is produced by the interplay between consciousness and the physical world. On this matter, The Buddha told Sati, a fisherman caught in the net of craving: “in many a figure has consciousness, generated by conditions, been spoken of by me to you, saying that apart from conditions there is not origination of consciousness.”
Theravada Buddhists also express being in terms of
1) the six sense organs (eyes, nose, ears, mouth, touch, thinking),
2) the six correspondent stimuli for each sense and
3) the six forms of consciousness associated with each sense.
Together these are known as the 18 dhatus . The six sense and their corresponding stimuli are known as the 12 ayatanas . All of these are seen as elements of “the world” which are seen as something that is internal rather than external to humans and part of the Not-Self. The True Self is viewed as something that is either beyond the world and the senses or at least independent of them.
Achieving complete freedom, nirvana and escape from the cycle of existence is achieved therefore by detaching oneself from the senses and the world and attaining the self almost as a matter of default through calming the mind and meditation. The Buddha took this idea in a different direction, arguing that the sensory world should not be extinguished but rather should be controlled through The Middle Way and that transcendence can be achieved in the sensory world in which an individual is neither attracted or repelled by the senses.
by Jeffrey Hays