THE FIVE SKANDHAS
by Chogyam Trungpa
To understand more precisely the process of confirming the solidity of I and other, that is, the development of ego, it is helpful to be familiar with the five skandhas, a set of Buddhist concepts which describe ego a five-step process.
The first step or skandha, the birth of ego, is called “form” or basic ignorance. We ignore the open, fluid, and intelligent quality of space. When a gap or space occurs in our experience of mind, when there is a sudden glimpse of awareness openness, absence of self, then a suspicion arise: “Suppose I find that there is no solid me? That possibility scares me. I don’t want to go into that. That abstract paranoia, the discomfort that something may be wrong, is the source of karmic chain reactions. It is the fear of ultimate confusion and despair. The fear of the absence of the self, of the egoless state, is a constant threat to us. “Suppose it is true, what then? I am afraid to look.” We want to maintain some solidity but the only material available with which to work is space, the absence of ego, so we try to solidify or freeze that experience of space. Ignorance in this case is not stupidity, but it is a kind of stubbornness. Suddenly we are bewildered by the discovery of selflessness and do not want to accept it; we want to hold on to something.