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II The Creation of Ego: The Five Skandhas (Aggregates, Collections) The Sutras are regarded by Buddhists as the actual words of the Buddha preserved through oral tradition and eventually recorded in writing. In the Sutras, the Buddha described how mind works to create the illusion of a permanent self and consequently gets trapped in suffering. A. If people could understand how we create our ego, moment to moment, they will understand how we create suffering for ourselves and others. B. Q: What is the “self” that we identify with? Are we are just bodies? Are we our memories? Classically, the Buddha taught five ways that we collect information again and again to make up our ordinary experience of self, the ego: C. The Five Skandhas: 1) Form: the basic duality of self and other, “me” and “not me.” 2) Sensation: very basic positive, negative, neutral reactions to “other;” where we encounter “not me.” (Sensation is not to be confused with emotions or feelings that develop through concept formation.) 3) Perception: experiencing the sensory details and qualities; the beginning of context. 4) Concept Formation: the use of memory to label certain perceptions and relate them to previous experience. Concepts help solidify experiences into “things” that have names. 5) Consciousness: the story-line we tell ourselves about what is happening. Here concepts come together to explain what is happening. Emotions develop from concepts and consciousness. D. What is the ego from a Buddhist perspective? The ego is the total of these five skandhas working without our awareness. Ego operates primarily by habit or “previous conditioning,” to put it in psychological terms. Yet our basic awareness of the present moment is always there underneath or mixed in with ego. E. If people have clear awareness then…...

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