The early Buddhist teachings present different types of psycho-physical models as an antidote to attachment to the "self." The three most commonly cited models are the five skandhas, the twelve ayatanas and the eighteen dhatus.
These psycho-physical models are studied in order to break down attachment to a "self" as a permanent, independently-existing entity. Hence, the study and contemplation of these models helps to develop an understanding of the "self" that exists interdependently with the world.
- the eighteen dhatus are taught to counter-act the view that everything we experience is either "form" or "thought"; in other words, this model is intended to help practitioners understand the difference between the perceptions that arise based on the five senses versus perceptions or cognitions that arise in the mind
- the twelve ayatanas are taught to counter-act the view that everything we experience is tangible form
- the skandhas are to to counter-act the view that everything we experience is just mind.
These three models are referred to repeatedly in early Buddhist texts in both the Pali and Sanskrit tradition. For example, the skandhas, the ayatanas, and the dhatus are referred to in the Heart Sutra (a key text of the Sanskrit tradition).
- Goodman 2020, s.v. Chapter 4: The Six Channels.
- Goodman, Steven D. (2020), The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to the Abhidharma (Apple Books ed.), Shambhala Publications