There are 5 skandhas that make us ourselves.
- Rupa (Objects)
- Vedana (Feelings)
- Sankhara (Formations)
- Vinnana (Conciousness / awareness)
Notice that the structure is Sankhara(Formation) while the activity is Consciousness. In case of Sanna/Vedana, box is a Sankhara and the content inside is a Sanna(Perception).
So does the 5 skandhas work mechanically? and how do we choose to do something if it’s so?
The ability to choose is the property of grasping. For example when you see a tree many perceptions can arise. Such as : tree/leaves/fruits/color/roots/forest/nature/birds/freedom/earth etc.
Out of these countless perceptions, we grasp and choose ‘Tree’. After grasping we pay attention to the grasped object. Similarly about ‘Tree’ and ‘Seeing Tree’ , we have many previous perceptions. From these perceptions, we choose one or many of them . Vedana is the behavior of assigning values to these perceptions thus leading to choose one out of them.
Grasping is craving or clinging. Grasping is also choosing and paying attention.
During meditation we reduce grasping to one Rupa such as breathing/an idea/ a feeling etc.
After that we also reduce the grasping of Vedana to one such Joy or Equanimity(4th Jhana).
In higher Jhanas(Arupa) we also reduce grasping the Sanna and only grasp one perception such as Infinite Space. Similarly in deeper levels, we reduce the grasping to Sankhara and then only to cessation of consciousness.
Although we have reduced grasping, I have to point out we have in turn grasped something more deeply. We reduced the grasping through grasping a single object more (as more peaceful/tranquil/happiness etc.)
These single objects are dependent on other perceptions/rupa/vedana/consciousness and doesn’t remove the grasping(Extinguish).