As I have heard:
Once upon a time, Lokajyestha was in the Kurus where there was a town named Kamma-sadamma.
There, Buddha addressed the bhikkhus as follows:   “O Bhikkus”
and Bhikkus said: “Yes, Lokajyestha”
and Buddha said:
“This is the only way to purify (the mind of) beings, to end worries and lamentation, and to destroy suffering and grief, reaching the right path and attaining Nibbana. That is the Fourfold stage of Mindfulness.”

What is the four contemplations (or the fourfold stage of mindfulness)?
Bhikkhus, herein (in this lesson); a bhikkhu contemplates the body in the body, ardently, clearly, comprehensively and mindfully in order to remove covetousness and grief in the world. He contemplates feelings in feelings, ardently, clearly, comprehensively and mindfully in order to remove covetousness and grief in the world. He contemplates the mind in the mind, ardently, clearly, comprehensively and mindfully in order to remove covetousness and grief in the world. He contemplates dharma in dharma, ardently, clearly, comprehensively and mindfully in order to remove covetousness and grief in the world.

Bhikkhus, here you contemplates dharma in dharma through pancaskandha upadana (the holding of the five cumulations).
And bhikkhus, how do you contemplates dharma in dharma in the five cumulations?
Bhikkhus, here you know:
This is Rùpa (outward appearance); this is the beginning or the cause of the beginning of Rùpa; this is the end or the cause of the end of Rùpa.
This is Vedanà (feelings); this is the beginning or the cause of the beginning of Vedanà; this is the end or the cause of the end of Vedanà.
This is Sanjnà (senses); this is the beginning or the cause of the beginning of Sanjnà; this is the end or the cause of the end of Sanjnà.
This is Samskàra (actions); this is the beginning or the cause of the beginning of Samskàra; this is the end or the cause of the end of Samskàra.
This is Vijnàna (perceptions); this is the beginning or the cause of the beginning of Vijnàna; this is the end or the cause of the end of Vijnàna.
In consequence, you contemplate dharma in internal dharma, dharma in external dharma, or dharma in both internal and external dharmas.
You contemplate the origination of dharma, the annihilation of dharma, or both the origination and annihilation of dharma.
Or you take the right mindfulness that “Only dharma.” (which means only and purely taking the right mindfullness by dharma).
And this right mindfulness needs to be established for the following development of wisdom and right mindfulness.
You do not have any heterical views and desires so as not to be dependent on anything.
You do not cling to anything in the world of these five cumulations.
Therefore, bhikkhus, you contemplate dharma in dharma through pancaskandha upadana.


Not clinging to anything in the world of the five cumulations.
When Buddha describes the world, creatures and inanimate objects (sentient and insentient beings), sometimes Buddha uses “Panca-skandha” (Khanda), sometimes “Twelve Organs of Senses”, sometimes “Twelve lands”, sometimes “Catvāri-āryasatyāni”.
Depending on the needs and levels of the listeners that Buddha teaches them the proper Dharmas: Some have to listen to the “Panca-skandha”, others need to know about “Twelve Organs of Senses”.
When using the word “Panca-skandha” to describe the world, Buddha mentioned “Panca-skandha Upadana”. That is why, we need to understand what Panca-skandha (Khanda) is and what Upadana is.
“Upadana” means desire or craving.
There are two types of Desire:
– A light desire called clinging
– A stronger desire called upadana
Upadana means, “holding tightly”. Here the word Holding is used figuratively to indicate the holding by the Holding Mind, not the Holding Action by the body. This is because “Holding” or “Clinging” means Clinging tightly and mentally to the objects.

There are two types of Upadana or Holding:
“Craving Upadana” and “Heterical view Upadana”
1_ “Craving upadana”: Upon seeing an object that you think is beautiful, lovely, you like it, then you cling to it and want to possess it. You have such a clinging mind because you crave for or desire that object.
2_ “Heterical views upadana”: Sometimes you have mistaken views or wrong thoughts about things. For instance, Buddha said, “All the things in this world are impermanent and are the objects of misery”. But sometimes you see things permanent, sometimes you think, “Things are good, I must own it”. When Buddha talks about the “five skandhas”, it means a group or a set.

There are five skandhas (cumulations): Rùpa or Physical Body, Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra and Vijnàna.
The whole world is the set of these five cumulations.
The Five Skandhas include all Psychological and Physical phenomena.
Things in the past, present, or future, inside or outside, raw or fine are all in the Five Skandhas. Thus it can be said that when a thing is identified in the past, present or future, inside or outside, raw or fine, it is considered to belong to the “Five Skandhas”
(== Notes == Refer to Prajna paramitahridaya Sutra ==)

1/. The First Skandha is Rùpa:
This belongs to physics or body. Our body as well as the whole external world such as mountains, trees, rivers, roads, and houses, etc. all belong to Rùpa.

2/. The Second Skandha is Vedanà:
You have different feelings in the body. This is just like different feelings about objects. Every time you see something you have sensations or feelings.
Feelings can be good, bad or neutral.
Feelings can be good, bad or neutral. When you are hurt, you will feel painful, when you realize something good, you will feel happy.
Neutral feeling is neither good nor bad, it belongs to Mind, not the feelings of Body. Pains belong to Body and the feelings of pain belongs to Mind.
A certain physical feeling and the feeling about this as a pain belong to Mind. Pleasures are the same, the leisure may belong to Body but the feeling of it belongs to Mind.
Vedanà is “Caitasika” (mental factors) or “Caitasika that recognizes objects”
Vedanà can be miserable, happy or unhappy or not miserable.
When you feel anxious about something, or when you feel happy with something, you experience Caitasika and this Caitasika is an object of another Caitasika.That is Vedanà.

3/. The Third Skandha is Sanjnà:
Sanjnà has the feature to recognize things, the power to form an image in the mind, and serves as a condition to see things again or to recognize them in the future, “This is the same, this is that”.
Thus, the recording in mind a sign or an image to remember or to recognize when you see something in the future is called Sanjnà.
Sanjnà is compared to a carpenter carving a mark on a piece of wood. The carpenter carves a mark on the piece of wood to remember which parts he needs to use, which parts to cut apart, and where to take them to.
Sanjnà or perception can be wrong, or correct and accurate.
For example, there is a blind man exposing to an elephant and wishing to know how it looks. If he touches its leg, the elephant to him is just a pillar. If he touches its body, the elephant to him is just a wall. If he touches its tail, the elephant to him is just a broom. If he touchs its ear, the elephant to him is just a paper fan, etc. depending on which part of the elephant that the blind man is touching, he has the perception of each.
This Sanjnà or perception expresses to meditators through actions or explanations based on the means as the already known signs. This can be compared to the Sanjnà of a deer when seeing the scarecrow. Farmers make scarecrows from straw to prevent the deer from damaging the crops. When seeing the scrarecrow, the deer think that is a real person, so it does not dare to come near. Seeing the scarecrow, the deer reacts as seeing a real man. The scarecrow is the near cause which makes the dear think that is a real man.
Hence, Sanjnà expresses to meditators as an express of action or interpretation, by means of the signs that have been previously known. The near cause of Sanjnà is the field of the object, no matter how the object appears.
In fact, the object is meant to be something true and accurate.
Therefore, Sanjnà or perception draws out a sign or an image that we can recall or recognize the object later. There is only one. At one moment, there is only One Sanjnà Mind that is present.
Called Aggregates (groups), because Sanjnà can only belong to the past, present, or future; it can be either inside or outside; that can be either raw or fine, etc.
An object cannot simultaneously belong to the past, present and future; cannot simultaneously inside and outside, raw and fine at the same time. Therefore, Sanjnà is called a Group or Skandha.

4/. The Fourth Skandha is Samskàra:
Samskàra includes many Caitasikas. They are the states or elements of Mind.
There are fifty types of samskàra (actions), that means, in Samskàra are Fifty Caitasikas.
Greed is a samskarà, Anger is a samskarà, Ignorance is a samskarà, Belief is a samskarà, Concept is a samskarà, and True Wisdom is also a samskarà. As they belong to Mind are they called Mind Samskarà. All of them combined into one group called Samskarà.

5/. The last Skandha is Vijnàna
In the Dharma of Buddha, Nàma is divided into two parts: “cittarāja” (also known as vijñāna) and “Caitasika”.
Vijnàna (consciousness) is just the simple perception about objects. It is not like the perception used to describe mindfulness.
Vijnàna is just the simple perception about one object, not knowing what is good, what is bad, what is blue, what is red…
Vijnàna is just a pure Understanding about an object, which means the yogi only realizes that is one object.
Vijnàna and caitasika always arise together. There eighty nine or one hundred and twenty one consciousnesses (also known as the cittarāja and are described in the Abhidhamma sutra).
When yogi knows or recognizes Consciousness, we can say that he has experienced Vijnàna.
There are many kinds of consciousnesses. You have studied the Consciousness in chapter Mind Mindfulness or chapter Mind Observing. For example, Nàma arises with Greed, or Nàma arises with Greed for Nothing…
In the five skandhas, the first one belongs to Rùpa, the other four: Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra and Vijnàna belong to Fame.
You can see two elements in a person that is the Rùpa and Fame, or Body and Mind.
According to the Abhidhamma, Mind is divided into two parts: cittarāja or Vijnàna and Cetasika.
In the five skandhas, Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra are Cetasika, Vijnàna is Cittarāja.

What is Panca-skandha Upadana?
They are the Skandhas which are the subjects for Upadana. Some of them belong to common meanings (Laukika) and others belong to superior meanings (Lokottara).
There are eighty nine types of Vijnàna in which there are eighty one types belonging to Laukika and eight belonging to Lokottara.
There are some Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra which associate with Vijnàna of Laukika, while there are some Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra associate with Vijnàna of Lokottara.
Only eighty one of Vijnàna of Laukika can be the subjects for Upadana. You cannot cling to the Vijnàna of Lokottara through Desires or Heretical Views.
Panca-skandha Upadana means the skandhas are the subjects for Upadana and they are Vijnàna of Laukika.
In short, everything in this world is Panca-skandha Upadana. When practicing Vipassana meditation, yogi will be aware and recognize the presence of these skandhas.

Again, Bhikkhus, you should know: this is Rùpa, this is the arising or cause of Rùpa, this is the annihilation or the cause of annihilation of Rùpa.
That is the method that the yogi should apply to recognize Rùpa skandha.
For example, yogi observes his breath and records the inhalation exhalation. The Breathing belongs to Rùpa skandha. Yogi knows that the Breathing belongs to Rùpa skandha.

When looking at an object, you know that is an object, that is the material, that object is to see, that is Rùpa. When hearing a sound, you know that is the sound, which is the material, which is Rùpa. By this way, yogi knows what is Rùpa, what is Rùpa skandha.
The sentence: “this is Rùpa” in this Sutra, means, “this is only the Rùpa which is not anything else
The sentence: “this is the arising of Rùpa” means, yogi observes and regconizes the arising of Rùpa, such as the arising of the breath.
Inhalation and Exhalation, Come and Go.
Therefore, during the inhalation stages you cannot be in the exhalation ones, during the exhalation stages you cannot be in the inhalation ones.
Thus yogi realizes the arising of Rùpa, which is Breath.
When the yogi has an understanding of the doctrines, yogi can know the Cause of Rùpa.
This Rùpa or Breath belongs to the body, and we have the body now because we have Delusion and Craving in the past. Because we accumulated some good karmas in the past, now we have this body or this Rùpa“. Therefore, the yogi knows or sees the Cause of Rùpa. When he carefully observes his breath, he will recognize the cessation of the breath. Breathing in disappears and breathing out appears. Hence, he can realize the cessation of Rùpa and see the Cause of Rùpa’s cessation.
If you do not have Delusion – Craving in the past, you do not accumulate Kamma in the past, and thus, you do not have this Rùpa in the present.
Knowing the cause of the origination and disappearance of Rùpa is called “Integrated Vipassana”.
There are two kinds of Vipassana: direct Vipassana and integrated Vipassana.
When the yogi realizes the cause of birth and death of Rùpa is “integrated Vipassana”. The perceptions of other skandhas are also through such integrated Vipassana.

This is Vedanà, this is the arising or the arising cause of Vedanà, and this is the disappearance or disappearance cause of Vedanà.
For Vedanà, the yogi knows only Vedanà, there is nothing else. When you know: this is pleasure or this is suffering, you are looking into Vedanà. However, when you know this is Vedanà only but nothing else, you are contemplating Dharma.
When in pain, the yogi knows that there is pain or feeling of the pain. He also knows: because there is the pain, there is the feeling of pain.
For other sensations, yogi also has the same perceptions. Therefore, when he investigates something meticulously, he realizes the Initiation of Vedanà as well as the Cause of Vedanà. Vedanà will appear clearly during meditation.
After sitting for a few minutes, the sensation will appear; for example, he feels numbness, stiffness or pain. When these sensations arise, the yogi knows that these are the sensations and just the sensations themselves.
Yogi records: Sensations, Sensations, Sensations.
Yogi also realizes the initiation of Sensations and the disappearance of Sensations, as well as recognizing the arising cause of Sensations and the disappearance cause of Sensations.

This is Sanjnà (perception), this is the Arising or the Arising Cause of Sanjnà, and this is the disappearance of Sanjnà or the disappearance cause of Sanjnà. The Yogi is also aware of his perceptions or sanjnà.
Perception or Sanjnà is not as clear as Rùpa and Vedanà. The yogi has an understanding of the Abhidhamma and Five Skandhas sometimes recorded this Perception or Sanjnà: now there is sanjnà in me and yogi record that is sanjnà.
Sanjnà is understanding, recognition and assimilation. That is a mental process to create the meaning for the arising sensations through the senses.
Sanjnà arises because there is a subject. Sanjnà arises in your lifetime. Because there are ignorance and craving in the past, you accumulate and thus have Karma. Yogi knows the destruction of Sanjnà and destructive cause of Sanjnà.
This Sanjnà may arise in yogi within a moment and disappear. When this moment passes, Sanjnà also disappears.
Yogi will also find annihilating cause of Sanjnà. When there is no subject, the subject of Sanjnà will completely disappear.
When there is no Ignorance, no Craving, and no Karma, Sanjnà can no longer arise.

This is Samskàra, this is the Arising or the Arising Cause of Samskàra, and this is the disappearance of Samskàra or the disappearance cause of Samskàra. When yogis experience Samskàra skandha, they will record this Samskàra.
During meditation sometimes you may be angry, sleepy or bored; sometimes you have good ideas. When these ideas appear in your mind and you recognize them as Samskàra skandha and repeat: this is the arising or arising cause of Samskàra skandha.
Because there are subjects, there is Samskàra. Because there are ignorance and craving in the past, you have accumulated many Karmas, so now you have Samskàra.
On the Cessation of Samskàra, while meditating, if there is such anger arises, you recite: Anger, Anger, Anger. Anger then disappears. At that time you have seen the annihilation of anger. The other Samskàras are similarly.
Without Ignorance and Clinging in the past, then you will not accumulate any karmas in the past; therefore there will not be any Samskàra in this life.
When yogis have observation on Samskàra skandha, they will realize its progress.

This is Vijnàna (Consciousness), this is the Arising or Arising Cause of Vijnàna. This is the disappearance or disappearance cause of Vijnàna.
For the Consciousness, yogis realize that Consciousness is Consciousness only; it does not come with Craving, or No Craving…
If you see Consciousness comes with Craving or No Craving, you contemplated Vijnàna (Mind Contemplation).
But if you see Consciousness is Consciousness only, you observed Dharma (Dharma Contemplation), or Five Skandhas contemplation.
There are many kinds of Vijnàna. When you see something, you have Eye Vijnàna. When you hear something, Eye Vijnàna disappears and Ear Vijnàna apppears.
Thus, yogis know how Vijnànas come and go. When you see the Vijnàna come and go or its beginning and ending, you observed Dharma or contemplated Dharma.

The Buddha does not fore yogis to stick to Five Skandhas. Yogis must not look for Five Skandhas. When any skandha appears, yogis record and are aware of that skandha only.
You record all that arise in you. The subject of your Awareness may be Materials or Rùpa, Vedanà, Sanjnà, Samskàra, or Vijnàna.
Therefore, yogi learned about Five Skandhas.
When yogis observe their own Five skandhas, they are contemplating Dharma in Internal Dharma.
However, when yogis observe the others’ Five Skandhas, such as: “This skandha is in me, then it is in the others”. That is contemplating Dharma outside or External-Dharma.
When yogis contemplate their Five skandhas and contemplate the other Five Skandhas, back and forth, is called contemplating both, or contemplating Internal and External Dharma.
Hence, practicing Dharma Contemplation based on Five Skandhas, you will realize the arising and disappearance of Five Skandhas and will find nothing to cling to.
You Reside in the Mindfullness Five Skandhas without holding or clinging to anything.

Quoted from: Mahasatipatthana Sutra
Translator: Bhikkhu Khanh Hy
(Aggasami Tran Minh Tai)
Posted by:
VajraPani Group – “Sun” Generation
Esoteric Dharma VajraPani Lineage

Translator: Nhat Binh