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Translations of
Englishsix sense bases,
six sense spheres
Chinese六入, 六処
(Pinyin: liùrù)
Japanese六入, 六処
(Rōmaji: rokunyū, rokusho)
Korean육입, 육처
(RR: yuk-yip, yuk-tcher)
Thaiอายตนะ (RTGSayatana)
Vietnameselục nhập
Glossary of Buddhism
  The 12 Nidānas:  
Name & Form
Six Sense Bases
Old Age & Death

Āyatana (Pāli; Sanskrit: आयतन) is a Buddhist term that has been translated as "sense base", "sense-media" or "sense sphere".[1] In Buddhism, there are six internal sense bases (Pali: ajjhattikāni āyatanāni; also known as, "organs", "gates", "doors", "powers" or "roots"[2]) and their corresponding six external sense bases (bāhirāni āyatanāni or "sense objects"; also known as vishaya or "domains"[3]).

There are six internal-external (organ-object) saḷāyatana (Pāli; Skt. ṣaḍāyatana), pairs of sense bases:[note 1][note 2]

Buddhism and other Indian epistemologies[8][9] identify six "senses" as opposed to the Western identification of five. In Buddhism, "mind" denotes an internal sense organ which interacts with sense objects that include sense impressions, feelings, perceptions and volition.[6][10]

In the Pali Canon


In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha identifies that the origin of suffering (Pali, Skt.: dukkha) is craving (Pali: taṇhā; Skt.: tṛṣṇā). In the chain of Dependent Origination, the Buddha identifies that craving arises from sensations that result from contact at the six sense bases (see Figure 2 below). Therefore, to overcome craving and its resultant suffering, one should develop restraint of and insight into the sense bases.[11]

Sense-base contexts

Figure 1: The Pali Canon's Six Sextets:
  sense bases  
<–> "external"
  1. The six internal sense bases are the eye, ear,
    nose, tongue, body & mind.
  2. The six external sense bases are visible forms,
    sound, odor, flavors, touch & mental objects.
  3. Sense-specific consciousness arises dependent
    on an internal & an external sense base.
  4. Contact is the meeting of an internal sense
    base, external sense base & consciousness.
  5. Feeling is dependent on contact.
  6. Craving is dependent on feeling.
 Source: MN 148 (Thanissaro, 1998)    diagram details


Name & Form
Six Sense Bases
  Suffering Craving   Cessation   the Path  
 ← 4 Noble Truths
Old Age & Death
Figure 2: The intersection of the
Twelve Causes and the Four Noble Truths:
How the sense bases lead to suffering.

Throughout the Pali Canon, the sense bases are referenced in hundreds of discourses.[13] In these diverse discourses, the sense bases are contextualized in different ways including:

  • Sextets (Pali: chakka):
    The sense bases include two sets of six: six sense organs (or internal sense bases) and six sense objects (or external sense bases). Based on these six pairs of sense bases, a number of mental factors arise. Thus, for instance, when an ear and sound are present, the associated consciousness (Pali: viññāṇa) arises. The arising of these three elements (dhātu) – ear, sound and ear-related consciousness – lead to what is known as "contact" (phassa) which in turn causes a pleasant or unpleasant or neutral "feeling" or "sensation" (vedanā) to arise. It is from such a feeling that "craving" (taṇhā) arises. (See Figure 1.) Such an enumeration can be found, for instance, in the "Six Sextets" discourse (Chachakka Sutta, MN 148), where the "six sextets" (six sense organs, six sense objects, six sense-specific types of consciousness, six sense-specific types of contact, six sense-specific types of sensation and six sense-specific types of craving) are examined and found to be empty of self.[14]
  • "The All" (Pali: sabba):
    In a discourse entitled, "The All" (SN 35.23), the Buddha states that there is no "all" outside of the six pairs of sense bases.[15] In the next codified discourse (SN 35.24), the Buddha elaborates that the All includes the first five aforementioned sextets (sense organs, objects, consciousness, contact and sensations).[16] References to the All can be found in a number of subsequent discourses.[17] In addition, the Abhidhamma and post-canonical Pali literature further conceptualize the sense bases as a means for classifying all factors of existence.[18]
  • The Twelve Dependencies (Pali, Skt.: nidāna):
    As described in the "Related Buddhist concepts" section below and illustrated in Figure 2, the sense bases are a critical link in the endless round of rebirth known as the Twelve Causes and as depicted in the Wheel of Becoming (Skt.: bhavacakra).[19]

"Aflame with lust, hate and delusion"


In "The Vipers" discourse (Asivisa Sutta, SN 35.197), the Buddha likens the internal sense bases to an "empty village" and the external sense bases to "village-plundering bandits." Using this metaphor, the Buddha characterizes the "empty"[20] sense organs as being "attacked by agreeable & disagreeable" sense objects.[21]

Elsewhere in the same collection of discourses (SN 35.191), the Buddha's Great Disciple Sariputta clarifies that the actual suffering associated with sense organs and sense objects is not inherent to these sense bases but is due to the "fetters" (here identified as "desire and lust") that arise when there is contact between a sense organ and sense object.[22]

In the "Fire Sermon" (Adittapariyaya Sutta, SN 35.28), delivered several months after the Buddha's awakening, the Buddha describes all sense bases and related mental processes in the following manner:

"Monks, the All is aflame. What All is aflame? The eye is aflame. Forms are aflame. Consciousness at the eye is aflame. Contact at the eye is aflame. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye – experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain – that too is aflame. Aflame with what? Aflame with the fire of passion, the fire of aversion, the fire of delusion. Aflame, I tell you, with birth, aging & death, with sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs."[23]

Extinguishing suffering's flame


The Buddha taught that, in order to escape the dangers of the sense bases, one must be able to apprehend the sense bases without defilement. In "Abandoning the Fetters" (SN 35.54), the Buddha states that one abandons the fetters "when one knows and sees ... as impermanent" (Pali: anicca) the six sense organs, objects, sense-consciousness, contact and sensations.[24] Similarly, in "Uprooting the Fetters" (SN 35.55), the Buddha states that one uproots the fetters "when one knows and sees ... as nonself" (anatta) the aforementioned five sextets.[25]

To foster this type of penetrative knowing and seeing and the resultant release from suffering, in the Satipatthana Sutta (MN 10) the Buddha instructs monks to meditate on the sense bases and the dependently arising fetters as follows:

"How, O bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu live contemplating mental object in the mental objects of the six internal and the six external sense-bases?
"Here, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu understands the eye and material forms and the fetter that arises dependent on both (eye and forms); he understands how the arising of the non-arisen fetter comes to be; he understands how the abandoning of the arisen fetter comes to be; and he understands how the non-arising in the future of the abandoned fetter comes to be. [In a similar manner:] He understands the ear and sounds ... the organ of smell and odors ... the organ of taste and flavors ... the organ of touch and tactual objects ... the consciousness and mental objects....
"Thus he lives contemplating mental object in mental objects ... and clings to naught in the world."[26]

In post-canonical Pali texts


The Vimuttimagga, the Visuddhimagga, and associated Pali commentaries[27] and subcommentaries all contribute to traditional knowledge about the sense bases.

Understanding sense organs


When the Buddha speaks of "understanding" the eye, ear, nose, tongue and body, what is meant?

According to the first-century CE Sinhalese meditation manual, Vimuttimagga, the sense organs can be understood in terms of the object sensed, the consciousness aroused, the underlying "sensory matter," and an associated primary or derived element that is present "in excess."[28] These characteristics are summarized in the table below.

in excess
eye visual objects visual consciousness "...the three small fleshy discs round the pupil, and the white and black of the eye-ball that is in five layers of flesh, blood, wind, phlegm and serum, is half a poppy-seed in size, is like the head of a louseling...." Earth
ear sound waves auditory consciousness "...in the interior of the two ear-holes, is fringed by tawny hair, is dependent on the membrane, is like the stem of a blue-green bean...." Sounds
nose odors olfactory consciousness "...in the interior of the nose, where the three meet, is dependent on one small opening, is like a Koviḷāra (flower in shape)...." air
tongue tastes gustatory consciousness "...two-finger breadths in size, is in shape like a blue lotus, is located in the flesh of the tongue...." water
body tangibles tactual consciousness "...in the entire body, excepting the hair of the body and the head, nails teeth and other insensitive parts...." Heat (or lack thereof)
Table 1. The Vimuttimagga's characterization of sense organs.[29]

The compendious fifth-century CE Visuddhimagga provides similar descriptors, such as "the size of a mere louse's head" for the location of the eye's "sensitivity" (Pali: pasāda; also known as, "sentient organ, sense agency, sensitive surface"),[30] and "in the place shaped like a goat's hoof" regarding the nose sensitivity (Vsm. XIV, 47–52).[31] In addition, the Visuddhimagga describes the sense organs in terms of the following four factors:

  • characteristic or sign (lakkhaa)
  • function or "taste" (rasa)
  • manifestation (paccupaṭṭhāna)
  • proximate cause (padaṭṭhāna)

Thus, for instance, it describes the eye as follows:

Herein, the eye's characteristic is sensitivity of primary elements that is ready for the impact of visible data; or its characteristic is sensitivity of primary elements originated by kamma sourcing from desire to see. Its function is to pick up [an object] among visible data. It is manifested as the footing of eye-consciousness. Its proximate cause is primary elements born of kamma sourcing from desire to see.[32]

In regards to the sixth internal sense base of mind (mano), Pali subcommentaries (attributed to Dhammapāla Thera) distinguish between consciousness arising from the five physical sense bases and that arising from the primarily post-canonical notion of a "life-continuum" or "unconscious mind" (bhavaga-mana):[33]

"Of the consciousness or mind aggregate included in a course of cognition of eye-consciousness, just the eye-base [not the mind-base] is the 'door' of origin, and the [external sense] base of the material form is the visible object. So it is in the case of the others [that is, the ear, nose, tongue and body sense bases]. But of the sixth sense-base the part of the mind base called the life-continuum, the unconscious mind, is the 'door' of origin...."[34]

The roots of wisdom


In the fifth-century CE exegetical Visuddhimagga, Buddhaghosa identifies knowing about the sense bases as part of the "soil" of liberating wisdom. Other components of this "soil" include the aggregates, the faculties, the Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination.[35]

  • Aggregates (Pali, khandha; Skt., skandha):
    In a variety of suttas, the aggregates, elements (see below) and sense bases are identified as the "soil" in which craving and clinging grow.[36] In general, in the Pali Canon, the aggregate of material form includes the five material sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue and body) and associated sense objects (visible forms, sounds, odors, tastes and tactile objects); the aggregate of consciousness is associated with the sense organ of mind; and, the mental aggregates (sensation, perception, mental formations) are mental sense objects.[37]
    Both the aggregates and the sense bases are identified as objects of mindfulness meditation in the Satipatthana Sutta. In terms of pursuing liberation, meditating on the aggregates eradicates self-doctrine and wrong-view clinging while meditating on the sense bases eradicates sense-pleasure clinging.[38]
  • Dependent Origination (Pali: paṭicca-samuppāda; Skt.: pratitya-samutpada):
    As indicated in Figure 2 above, the six sense bases (Pali: saḷāyatana; Skt.: ṣaḍāyatana) are the fifth link in the Twelve Causes (nidāna) of the chain of Dependent Origination and thus likewise are the fifth position on the Wheel of Becoming (bhavacakra). The arising of the six sense bases is dependent on the arising of material and mental objects (Pali, Skt.: nāmarūpa); and, the arising of the six sense bases leads to the arising of "contact" (Pali: phassa; Skt.: sparśa) between the sense bases and consciousness (Pali: viññāṇa; Skt.: visjñāna) which results in pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings (Pali, Skt.: vedanā).
  • Elements (Pali, Skt.: dhātu):[39]
    The eighteen elements include the twelve sense bases. The eighteen elements are six triads of elements where each triad is composed of a sense object (the external sense bases), a sense organ (the internal sense bases) and the associated sense-organ-consciousness (viññāṇa).[40] In other words, the eighteen elements are made up of the twelve sense bases and the six related sense-consciousnesses.
  • Karma (Skt.; Pali: kamma):
    In a Samyutta Nikaya discourse, the Buddha declares that the six internal senses bases (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind) are "old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt."[41] In this discourse, "new kamma" is described as "whatever action one does now by body, speech, or mind." In this way, the internal sense bases provide a link between our volitional actions and subsequent perceptions.

See also

  • Heart SutraMahayana text that shows the ayatanas in Mahayana discourse
  • Indriya—"faculties", which include a group of "six sensory faculties" similar to the six sense bases
  • Prajna (wisdom)
  • Satipatthana Sutta—includes a meditation using sense bases as the meditative object
  • Skandha—a similar Buddhist construct
  • Twelve Nidanas—the chain of endless suffering of which the sense bases are the fifth link


  1. ^ One may logically deduce from the existence of six internal sense bases and six external sense bases that there are a total of twelve individual sense bases; the Pali canon, however, never references "twelve" sense bases per se, e.g., see MN 137: "[S]aāyatanavibhaṅgaṃ vo, bhikkhave, desessāmi.... Cha ajjhattikāni āyatanāni veditabbāni, cha bāhirāni āyatanāni veditabbāni...." Also see MN 148, 149, etc.
  2. ^ Saḷāyatana is generally used in the context of the Twelve Causes (nidāna) of the chain of Dependent Origination.[4]Ṣaḍāyatana is the fifth link in the Twelve Nidānas of Pratitya-Samutpada (Dependent Origination) and thus likewise in the fifth position on the Bhavacakra (Wheel of Becoming). Ṣaḍāyatana (Sense Gates) is dependent on Nāmarūpa (Name and Form) as condition before it can exist: "With Name and Form as condition, Sense Gates arise." Ṣaḍāyatana is also the prevailing condition for the next condition in the chain, Contact (Sparśa): "With


  1. ^ "Sense base" is used for instance by Bodhi (2000b) and Soma (1999). "Sense-media" is used by Thanissaro (e.g., cf. Thanissaro, 1998c). "Sense sphere" is used for instance by VRI (1996) and suggested by Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–5), p. 105, whose third definition for Āyatana is:
    sphere of perception or sense in general, object of thought, sense-organ & object; relation, order. – [Aung & Rhys Davids (1910)], p. 183 says rightly: 'āyatana cannot be rendered by a single English word to cover both sense-organs (the mind being regarded as 6th sense) and sense objects'. – These āyatanāni (relations, functions, reciprocalities) are thus divided into two groups, inner (ajjhattikāni) and outer (bāhirāni)....
  2. ^ Pine 2004, p. 102
  3. ^ Pine 2004, p. 103
  4. ^ "Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–5), p. 699".
  5. ^ The Pāli word translated here as "visible objects" is rūpa. In terms of the Buddhist notion of the sense bases, rūpa refers to visual objects (or objects knowable by the eye through light). This should not be confused with the use of the word rūpa in terms of the Buddhist notion of aggregates where rūpa refers to all material objects, both of the world and the body. Thus, when comparing these two uses of rūpa, the rūpa aggregate (rūpakkhandha) includes the rūpa sense-object (rūpāyatana) as well as the four other material sense-objects (sound, odor, taste and touch).
  6. ^ a b The Pāli word translated here as "mind" is mano. Other common translations include "intellect" (e.g., Thanissaro, 2001a) and "consciousness" (e.g., Soma, 1999). In the Suttapitaka, mano does not necessarily refer to all mental processing. Other oft-mentioned complementary mental processes include "consciousness" (viññāṇa) and "mental states" (citta). Nonetheless, in the Abhidhamma Pitaka and later texts, these terms are at times used synonymously.
  7. ^ The Pāli word translated here as "mental objects" is dhammā. Other frequently seen translations include "mental phenomena" (e.g., Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 1135ff.), "thoughts," "ideas" (e.g., Thanissaro, 2001a) and "contents of the mind" (VRI, 1996, p. 39) while some translators simply leave this word untranslated due to its complex overtones in the Pali literature.
  8. ^ Hamilton (2001), p. 53, writes: "... six senses, including one relating to non-sensory mental activity, are recognized in Buddhism and other Indian schools of thought...."
  9. ^ See also Pine 2004, p. 101. Red Pine argues that this scheme probably predates Buddhism, because it has ten external members (ear, sound, nose, odor, tongue, taste, body, touch) corresponding to the single external skandha (form), and only two internal members (mind and thought) corresponding to the four internal skandhas.
  10. ^ See, for instance, Bodhi (2000a), p. 288.
  11. ^ Bodhi (2005b), starting at time 50:00. Bodhi (2005b) references, for instance, Majjhima Nikaya Sutta No. 149, where the Buddha instructs:
    "...[K]nowing & seeing the eye as it actually is present, knowing & seeing [visible] forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye as they actually are present, knowing & seeing whatever arises conditioned through contact at the eye – experienced as pleasure, pain, or neither-pleasure-nor-pain – as it actually is present, one is not infatuated with the eye... forms... consciousness at the eye... contact at the eye... whatever arises.... The craving that makes for further becoming – accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now this & now that – is abandoned by him. His bodily disturbances & mental disturbances are abandoned. His bodily torments & mental torments are abandoned. His bodily distresses & mental distresses are abandoned. He is sensitive both to ease of body & ease of awareness..." (Thanissaro, 1998c).
  12. ^ This diagram is based on comments made by Bhikkhu Bodhi during a dharma talk (Bodhi, 2005, starting at time 50:00). Of course, reference to the Four Noble Truths in this context is redundant as the whole endless cycle of the Twelve Causes is a form of suffering and the last two causes, Birth and Old Age & Death, are explicitly identified as components of suffering by the Buddha in the Four Noble Truths (for instance, see the Dhammacakka Sutta). Nonetheless, Bodhi's formulation here provides a conciseness – both conceptually and, in this diagram, visually – that might otherwise not be as compelling and readily comprehended.
  13. ^ The greatest concentration of discourses related to the sense bases is in the Samyutta Nikaya, chapter 35, entitled "The Book of the Six Sense Bases" (Saḷāyatana-vagga). For instance, in Bodhi (2000b) edition of the Samyutta Nikaya, this chapter alone has 248 discourses. The Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–25) entry for "Āyatana" (p. 105) also mentions other discourses in each of the Pali nikayas.
  14. ^ Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), pp. 1129–36; and, Thanissaro (1998a).
  15. ^ Bodhi (2000b), p. 1140; and, Thanissaro (2001b). According to Bodhi (2000b), p. 1399, n. 7, the Pali commentary regarding the Sabba Sutta states: "...[I]f one passes over the twelve sense bases, one cannot point out any real phenomenon." Also see Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–25), p. 680, "Sabba" entry where sabbaŋ is defined as "the (whole) world of sense-experience."
  16. ^ Bodhi (2000b), p. 1140; and, Thanissaro (2001a).
  17. ^ For instance, SN 35.25 through 35.29, including the famed "Fire Sermon" (SN 35.28).
  18. ^ Bodhi (2000b), p. 1122.
  19. ^ Note that the Twelve Causes and Six Sextets describe the relationship between the sense bases and consciousness in different ways. Relatedly, there are canonical discouses that put forth hybrid models of these various psychophysical factors, such as described in "The World Discourse" (Loka Sutta, SN 12.44) (Thanissaro, 1998b; and, Bodhi, 2005a, pp. 358–59) where the aforementioned six "sextets" (from the eye and form to craving) condition the last four "causes" (clinging, becoming, birth, old age & death) and suffering. In reference to this and similar "variant" discourses, Bodhi (2005a) notes:
    "These variants make it plain that the sequence of factors should not be regarded as a linear causal process in which each preceding factor gives rise to its successor through the simple exercise of efficient causality. Far from being linear, the relationship among the factors is always complex, involving several interwoven strands of conditionality." (Bodhi, 2005a, p. 316.)
  20. ^ In the context of SN 35.197, the term "empty" might simply be meant to convey "passive." It could also be used in the Buddhist sense of self-less, as in anatta (see). In fact, in SN 35.85, the Buddha applies this latter notion of emptiness (suññata) to all internal and external sense bases (Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 1163–64; and Thanissaro, 1997c).
  21. ^ Bodhi (2000b), pp. 1237–1239 (where this discourse is identified as SN 35.238); Buddhaghosa (1999), p. 490 (where this discourse is identified as S.iv,175); and, Thanissaro (2004). Similarly, in the last sutta of the Samyutta Nikaya's Salayatana-samyutta, entitled "The Sheaf of Barley" (which Bodhi, 2000b, identifies as SN 35.248 and Thanissaro, 1998d, as SN 35.207), the Buddha describes the sense organs as "struck" or "thrashed" by "agreeable and disagreeable" sense objects (Bodhi, 2000b, pp. 1257–59; Thanissaro, 1998d).
  22. ^ Bodhi (2000b), pp. 1230–1231 (where this discourse is identified as SN 35.232); and, Thanissaro (1997b).
  23. ^ Thanissaro, 1993. For other references to the sense bases as "the All," see Thanissaro (2001b) and Thanissaro (2001a). The sense bases are "the All" insomuch that all we know of the world is known through the sense bases.
  24. ^ Bodhi (2000b), p. 1148.
  25. ^ Bodhi (2000b), p. 1148. For a correspondence between impermanence and nonself, see Three marks of existence.
  26. ^ Soma (1999), section entitled, "The Six Internal and the Six External Sense-bases."
  27. ^ In terms of the Pali commentaries, for instance, there is overlap between the Visuddhimagga and the commentary to the Dhammasangani, Atthasālinī (e.g., cf. Vsm. XIV,49 [Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 446] and Asl. 310 [Rhys Davids, 1900, p. 178 n. 2]).
  28. ^ In regards to defining the sense bases in terms of excess primary elements, the Visuddhimagga (Vsm. XIV, 42) is critical:
    "... Others say that the eye is sensitivity of those [primary elements] that have fire in excess, and that the ear, nose, tongue, and body are [sensitivity] of those [primary elements] that have [respectively] aperture, air, water and earth in excess. They should be asked to quote a sutta. They will certainly not find one." (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 444, para. 42.)
  29. ^ This table is based on Upatissa et al. (1995), pp. 238–240.
  30. ^ Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–25), p. 446, entry for "Pasāda" (retrieved 2008-04-16 from "U. Chicago" at [1]).
  31. ^ Buddhaghosa (1999), pp. 445–6. While this Visuddhimagga chapter (XIV) actually pertains to the Five Aggregates, this characterization is referenced in the Visuddhimagga chapter (XV) on the Sense Bases (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 489, verse 8).
  32. ^ Vsm. XIV, 37 (trans. Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 443; square-bracketed text in original). The Pali (from the Burmese CSCD, retrieved 2008-04-16 from "VRI" at http://www.tipitaka.org/romn/cscd/e0102n.mul2.xml) associated with this passage is:
    Tattha rūpābhighātārahatappasādalakkhaṇaṃ daṭṭhukāmatānidānakammasamuṭṭhānabhūtappasādalakkhaṇaṃ vā cakkhu, rūpesu āviñchanarasaṃ, cakkhuviññāṇassa ādhārabhāvapaccupaṭṭhānaṃ, daṭṭhukāmatānidānakammajabhūtapadaṭṭhānaṃ.
  33. ^ Regarding bhavaga being a primarily post-canonical concept, see Matthews (1995, p. 128) where he states for instance: "Bhavaga does not occur in the Sutta Pitaka, but its appearance in both the Dhammasagai and the Paṭṭhāna assured that it received much post-classical attention in the Theravāda." He further amplifies this in an endnote (p. 140, n. 34): "... [A]lthough bhavaga does appear in the Abhidhamma Piaka, it is not until the post-classical era that it receives much attention." Citing Ñāamoli and others, Matthews (1995, p. 123) defines the "classical age" as "ended about the 4th century A.D.," just prior to the "great age of commentaries."
  34. ^ Soma (2003), p. 133. This excerpt is from the subcommentary to the Majjhima Nikāya, the Līnatthapakāsanā Tīkā.
  35. ^ Buddhaghosa & Ñāamoli (1999), pp. 442–43.
  36. ^ See, for instance, SN 35.91 where the Buddha proclaims:
    "Whatever, bhikkhus, is the extent of the aggregates, the elements, and the sense bases, [a right-practicing monk] does not conceive that, does not conceive in that, does not conceive from that, does not conceive, 'This is mine.' Since he does not conceive anything thus, he does not cling to anything in the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Being unagitated, he personally attains Nibbāna..." (Bodhi, 2000b, p. 1171).
  37. ^ See, for instance, Bodhi (2000b), pp. 1122–24. Beyond the five aggregates, Nibbana is also identified as a "mental object" perceivable by "mind" (mano) (see, for instance, Bodhi, 2000a, p. 288).
  38. ^ See, for instance, Bodhi (2000b), pp. 1124–26; and, Bodhi (2005b), starting at time 48:47. Also see the article on upadana for the canonical explanation of the four types of clinging: sense-pleasure, wrong-view, rites-and-rituals and self-doctrine.
  39. ^ The Pāli word referenced here as "element," dhātu, is used in multiple contexts in the Pāli canon. For instance, Bodhi (2000b), pp. 527–8, identifies four different ways that dhātu is used including in terms of the "eighteen elements" and in terms of "the four primary elements" (catudhātu).
  40. ^ In Buddhist literature, when a sense object and sense organ make contact (Pali, phassa), sense-consciousness arises. (See for instance MN 148.)
  41. ^ Bodhi (2005b), pp. 1211–12. See also Thanissaro (1997a).


  • Aung, S.Z. & C.A.F. Rhys Davids (trans.) (1910). Compendium of Philosophy (Translation of the Abhidhamm'attha-sangaha). Chipstead: Pali Text Society. Cited in Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–5).
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2000a). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha of Ācariya Anuruddha. Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-02-9.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000b). The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. (Part IV is "The Book of the Six Sense Bases (Salayatanavagga)".) Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (2005a). In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-491-1.
  • Bodhi, Bhikkhu (18 Jan 2005b). MN 10: Satipatthana Sutta (continued) (MP3 audio file) [In this series of talks on the Majjhima Nikaya, this is Bodhi's ninth talk on the Satipatthana Sutta. In this talk, the discussion regarding the sense bases starts at time 45:36]. Available on-line at http://www.bodhimonastery.net/MP3/M0060_MN-010.mp3[permanent dead link].
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  • Matthews, Bruce (1995). "Post-Classical Developments in the Concepts of Karma and Rebirth in Theravāda Buddhism," in Ronald W. Neufeldt (ed.), Karma and Rebirth: Post-Classical Developments. Delhi, Sri Satguru Publications. (Originally published by the State University of New York, 1986). ISBN 81-7030-430-X.
  • Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu (trans.) & Bodhi, Bhikkhu (ed.) (2001). The Middle-Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikāya. Boston: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
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