I'm looking at this definition of dukkha:

  1. Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha;
  2. sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are dukkha;
  3. association with the unbeloved is dukkha;
  4. separation from the loved is dukkha;
  5. not getting what is wanted is dukkha.

In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha.

Taking this definition of the five skandhas,

  1. The first of the above (birth aging and death) might I suppose relate to "form":

    "form" or "matter"[e] (Skt., Pāli रूप rūpa; Tib. gzugs): external and internal matter. Externally, rupa is the physical world. Internally, rupa includes the material body and the physical sense organs

  2. The second of the above might relate to sensation:

    "sensation" or "feeling" (Skt., Pāli वेदना vedanā; Tib. tshor-ba): sensing an object as either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral

Do the next three parts of the definition of dukkha relate to the next three skandhas? If so can you please explain how they're related (i.e. how each of the other three skandha are dukkha)? Are "association", "separation" and "not getting what is wanted" each associated with three different skandhas? Or is that all skandhas are equally able to be a type of "clinging" or attachment?

  • 1
    i don't think making such association is warranted, in his "How Buddhism Began" Richard Gombrich eloquently addressed this overly abhidhammistic approach to the word of Buddha, where phrases consisting of mere synonyms whos redundancy in the Pali Canon is meant to better illustrate and convey an idea and help the bhanakas memorize the texts would be ad nauseum dissected and anatomized by exegetes into separate terms with special meanings... i think the original Dhamma is much simpler and straightforward Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:52
  • 1
    and if i may make a correction, dukkha is inherent not to just aggregates but to clinging aggregates, just as the sutta text says, arahants too are made up of aggregates but their dukkha is disposed of Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 22:59
  • @БаянКупи-ка Ok. But please post that as an answer not as a comment.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:10
  • but it doesn't add anything to the discussion, much less answers your question, it's a meta-post, a comment on the question, i don't feel it's worth a place among the answers proper Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:46
  • It seemed like an answer to me: it's saying that the answer is, "No, that is not meant to be and cannot be read as a one-to-one mapping with the 5 skandhas."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 23:53

5 Answers 5


They are related to all aggregates.

  1. Birth is the arising of aggregates. Death is the disappearing of that which arose. Ageing is the changing in between.

  2. Sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, & despair are all Dukkhas caused by clinging to the five aggregates.

  3. Association with unbeloved is the association with painful experiences(five aggregates).

  4. Separation from the loved is the separation from pleasurable/neutral experiences(five aggregates).

  5. Not getting what is wanted means not being able to control the five aggregates at will: Not being able to retain pleasurable/neutral experiences. Not being able to keep away painful experiences.


The five skandhas are the five attributes which constitutes a living being. The five Skandhas are: form (rupa), sensation (vedana), perception (samjna), mental formation (samskara), and finally consciousness (vijnana).

Form or rupa is attributed to the six physical realms. It is anything that can be sensed or touched by the being. This even includes the beings body. The problem with separating the definition of the Dukkha's with the Skandhas is that you can't. They are all inter-related.

The Five Skandhas are a fundamental Buddhist concept and play an important part in Buddhist doctrine. For it is through the Five Skandhas that the world (Samsara) is experienced, and nothing is experienced apart from the Five Skandhas.

So let us look at the first definition of Dukkha and attempt to break it down.

Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha

This sentence is explaining the pains of a finite existing body that is imperfect. This can be categorized as "form". Form also referring to the basic building blocks meaning the "four elements" or Mahābhūta. In order for a form to exist it requires consciousness, the second Skandha. Once form and consciousness makes contact (phassa), it is translated into sensation (vedana), the third Skandha. This is where the two skandhas arise known as perception (samjna) and mental formation (samskara) which reacts to the form. Without the five skandhas you would never know how birth, aging and death is dukkha.


Suffering is result of ignorance of karmic of skandhas, 5 aggrrgates in creation of ego. Ego has tendancy to cling and create 'self', 'I', or 'me' based on in dependent relation with 5 skandhas.


If for example I take my young, healthy, hygienic form as favorable, and an old, sick, unhygienic form as unfavorable. Then, there is suffering when you grow old, sick or dirty.

If I perceive someone as a loved one, and another a foe, then these perceptions can be misery: when you part with a loved one and have to be with a unloved person.

When you are conscious of the touch of a soft cushion you get a pleasant feeling, and in an uncomfortable seat you get unpleasant feeling. If you get an uncomfortable seat and when your body comes in contact with it you feel unpleasant sensation.

Also any pleasantness that you experience, which can change or come to an end, will give displeasure: for example when you are with someone you like (perceive positively) and you have to part.

Likewise if you analyse every aspect of the 5 aggregates it leads to suffering if there is craving. In absence of craving there is not suffering.

E.g. I do not distinguish someone as a person you do not like then this perception does not lead to suffering.

  • It's just that I noticed that the first two parts of the definition of dukkha correspond to two different skandhas. I was wondering whether the next three parts of the definition separately each correspond to the other three different skandhas (but I didn't see how).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 20:42
  • It is consciousness and feeling in combination with a combination of the other 3 (injured body, body consciousness gives unpleasant feelings) or consciousness and feeling on its own (pricked by a pin - though here the body feels the pin the feeling is just consciousness and feeling). Say the prick creates and injury and you get afraid it will get infected then it is perception, consciousness (your mind sense door is consciousness of the perception) and feeling. Commented Mar 21, 2016 at 21:14

The 1st noble truth summarises all suffering as clinging (upadana). The five aggregrates are irrelevant. Birth, death, etc, are only suffering when clung to. Read these suttas:



You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .