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Book: Buddhism in Five Minutes

Chapter: 17. Does Buddhism See the Mind as Separate from the Body?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.40754


A key Buddhist belief concerns rebirth: that a person does not fully come to an end at death, but goes on to another rebirth. So the Buddha saw the view of materialists as mistaken, characterizing them as “annihilationists.” A person is more than the material body, then. The most common Buddhist analysis of a person is in terms of the five khandhas (Pali; Sanskrit: skandhas): “aggregates” or “bundles.” These are:

• material form (rūpa): four primary elemental processes termed “earth”, “water,” “fire,” and “wind,” plus other processes dependent on these;

• pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feeling tone (vedanā);

• perception (Pali: saññā; Sanskrit: saṃjñā), which labels, classifies, and recognizes/misrecognizes sense-objects;

• volitional activities (Pali: saṅkhāra; Sanskrit: saṃskāra), in the form of tendencies, emotions, attitudes, and volitional responses;

• consciousness (Pali: viññāṇa; Sanskrit: vijñāna), the awareness of any object of the physical senses or mind.

Chapter Contributors

  • Peter Harvey ( - peterharvey) 'University of Sunderland'