Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

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Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby AyyaSobhana » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:55 pm

Meanings of Sankhara: All conditioned things, the 5 aggregates of clinging in summary, the 4th aggregate taken by itself, volitional formations. This is from Analayo's article in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sankhara.pdf

Lately I have found it useful to consider the sequence avijja - sankhara - vinnana in a psychological sense, where avijja is both the delusion of self and not seeing of things as they are; sankhara is a shorthand for pancupadanakkhandha, the five aggregates of clinging which are the Buddha's summary of dukkha; and vinnana is both the culmination of dukkha in pancupadanakkhandha and the relinking consciousness that takes us over to the next existence.

I know this is not the standard way to consider it, but find this approach very juicy for practice, both on and off the cushion. Are there others using this sequence in the Dhamma as a field for practice (that is, not just a theory)? Sorry about the diacritics.
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby Samma » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:40 pm

I don't see how sankhara could be a summary for the five aggregates, simply being one of the five.
It is said that there are three kinds of sankhara, bodily, verbal, and mental. I suppose those three factors could be roughly equated to the construction of a being like the five aggregates. Where verbal (directed thought and evaluation) would be equated with sankharas. So I see how you might have made the connection, but I think we could use a better understanding of sankhara for theoretical and practical sake. Of course this is difficult to come by with explanations such as "And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I'd venture DO sankhara is more about how the whole process is constructed out of ignorance or not.

Bhikkhu Bodhi:
The active sankharas consisting in kammically active volitions perpetually create the sankhara of the five aggregates that constitute our being. As long as we continue to identify with the five aggregates (the work of ignorance) and to seek enjoyment in them (the work of craving), we go on spewing out the volitional formations that build up future combinations of aggregates. Just that is the nature of samsara: an unbroken procession of empty but efficient sankharas producing still other sankharas, riding up in fresh waves with each new birth, swelling to a crest, and then crashing down into old age, illness, and death. Yet on it goes, shrouded in the delusion that we're really in control, sustained by an ever-tantalizing, ever receding hope of final satisfaction.
When, however, we take up the practice of the Dhamma, we apply a brake to this relentless generation of sankharas. We learn to see the true nature of the sankharas, of our own five aggregates: as unstable, conditioned processes rolling on with no one in charge. Thereby we switch off the engine driven by ignorance and craving, and the process of kammic construction, the production of active sankharas, is effectively deconstructed. By putting an end to the constructing of conditioned reality, we open the door to what is ever-present but not constructed, not conditioned: the asankhata-dhatu, the unconditioned element. This is Nibbana, the Deathless, the stilling of volitional activities, the final liberation from all conditioned formations and thus from impermanence and death. Therefore our verse concludes: "The subsiding of formations is blissful!"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_43.html
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:51 pm

Greetings,

Samma wrote:I don't see how sankhara could be a summary for the five aggregates, simply being one of the five.

It is to the extent of them all being sankhata-dhamma (conditioned dhamma/phenomena)

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


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One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby Samma » Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:05 pm

Hmm...if you look at Analayo article he distinguishes between 3 meanings, while this topic includes "the 5 aggregates of clinging in summary" as a fourth.
I'm trying to see where that comes from.
"to the extent of them all being sankhata-dhamma" would already fall under the 3rd meaning "as anything conditioned" or "all conditioned things" no?
Ok all aggregates are conditioned, even conditioning itself, but I don't see how that explains how conditioning serves as a summary for all 5 aggregates. Its still just 1of5.
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby Sanjay PS » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:34 am

Sankhara is reaction ( one among the four components of the mind ) , that gives rise and fuels consciousness , and is mentioned clearly in the Paticca-samuppada ( Laws of Dependent origination ) .

The four components of the mind can be clearly differentiated , and one can realize how sankhara shapes a new consciousness .

Take for example ; just as we are about to drift away to sleep in the night , suddenly we hear a bottle that we had kept besides the window fall .

Within a billionth of a second , most of us would react with a mind slightly startled. If we divide this fleeting happening , we can see that there was first just a ear consciousness ( vinnyana ) of a sound made by a falling bottle , the second part of the mind which arose almost simultaneously , was the sanna (perception) of the unfamiliar, which gave rise to a sensation ( vedana ) , on reacting( sankhara ) to this sensation , a new consciousness of slightly startled fear arose , which immediately died thereafter , since the next link of the mind , sanna (perception) , now evaluated the sound as that of the bottle knocked down by the breeze , with this familiar perception , the vedana ( sensation ) was different from that of the initial sensation , hence , the new sankahara dependent on the changed vedana (sensation ) changed accordingly , thus , was born a new consciousness , dependent on the new sankhara, and the process continuum.......

Hence , it is the reaction (sankhara ) to the vedana (sensation ) that fuels the consciousness . We react due to avijjya (ignorance ) clinging to sensations that are ever fleeting , just as the other 3 parts of the mind are also in a state of flux . Hence does Lord Buddha mentions " sankithena , panchupadana kandha , dukkha " ( in summary , clinging to an ever changing mind and matter , is the cause of our suffering ) .

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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby ancientbuddhism » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:32 pm

AyyaSobhana wrote:Meanings of Sankhara: All conditioned things, the 5 aggregates of clinging in summary, the 4th aggregate taken by itself, volitional formations. This is from Analayo's article in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sankhara.pdf

Lately I have found it useful to consider the sequence avijja - sankhara - vinnana in a psychological sense, where avijja is both the delusion of self and not seeing of things as they are; sankhara is a shorthand for pancupadanakkhandha, the five aggregates of clinging which are the Buddha's summary of dukkha; and vinnana is both the culmination of dukkha in pancupadanakkhandha and the relinking consciousness that takes us over to the next existence.

I know this is not the standard way to consider it, but find this approach very juicy for practice, both on and off the cushion. Are there others using this sequence in the Dhamma as a field for practice (that is, not just a theory)? Sorry about the diacritics.


To save on cyber-ink, I had posted a note on saṅkhāra on The Independent Buddhist forum here in relation to a discussion of DO.

The khandhā are not exactly a summary of dukkha. Dukkha is a pathway chosen out of avijjā and through taṇhā.

The khandhā and āyatanā are neutral and simply ‘exist right there’ (tiṭṭhanti kho pana … tattheva pañcindriyāni…’ (SN. 22.47), it is with the absence of avijjā that the notion of 'I am' ceases. This indicates that these (khandhā etc.) are not inherently negative, ‘attached’, and bound for the unfortunate destination of dukkha. Rather, inclination to the pathway to dukkha is influenced by the presence of avijjā and initiated through taṇhā.

The Loka Sutta (SN. 12.44) gives us a helpful example of this within the context of DO, giving a framework of mind-moments with the presence or absence of taṇhā leading the pathway to either dukkha or peace.

    “Dependant on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises. With the union of these three is contact. Contact is the supportive condition for the sensation of feeling, the sensation of feeling is the supportive condition for craving, craving is the supportive condition for grasping…”

    Cakkhuñca paṭicca rūpe ca uppajjati cakkhuviññāṇaṃ. Tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati phasso. Phassapaccayā vedanā vedanāpaccayā taṇhā. Taṇhāpaccayā upādānaṃ. Upādānapaccayā bhavo. Bhavapaccayā jāti. Jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṃ, sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby SarathW » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:11 am

§ 11. “And why do you call it ‘form’ [rupa]? Because it is afflicted [ruppati],
thus it is called ‘form.’ Afflicted with what? With cold & heat & hunger &
thirst, with the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles. Because it is
afflicted, it is called form.
“And why do you call it ‘feeling’? Because it feels, thus it is called
‘feeling.’ What does it feel? It feels pleasure, it feels pain, it feels neitherpleasure-
nor-pain. Because it feels, it is called feeling.
“And why do you call it ‘perception’? Because it perceives, thus it is
called ‘perception.’ What does it perceive? It perceives blue, it perceives
yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white. Because it perceives, it is called
perception.
“And why do you call them ‘fabrications’? Because they fabricate
fabricated things, thus they are called ‘fabrications.’ What do they fabricate as
a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form as a
fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling as a
fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood… For the sake of
fabrication-hood… For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate
consciousness as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things,
they are called fabrications.
“And why do you call it ‘consciousness’? Because it cognizes, thus it is
called consciousness. What does it cognize? It cognizes what is sour, bitter,
pungent, sweet, alkaline, non-alkaline, salty, & unsalty. Because it cognizes, it
is called consciousness.” — SN 22:79

http://dhammatalks.org/Archive/Writings ... 130716.pdf
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:58 am

Greetings Samma,

Samma wrote:Hmm...if you look at Analayo article he distinguishes between 3 meanings, while this topic includes "the 5 aggregates of clinging in summary" as a fourth.
I'm trying to see where that comes from.
"to the extent of them all being sankhata-dhamma" would already fall under the 3rd meaning "as anything conditioned" or "all conditioned things" no?

Personally I adopt an understanding of sankhara closer of to that expounded by Nanavira in his Notes on Dhamma, and as that doesn't acknowledge the divergences "between 3 meanings" of sankhara which are established in the classical Theravada context, it's very difficult for me to respond appropriately within the established context of the Classical Theravada forum.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby AyyaSobhana » Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:27 am

Thank you everyone for a useful set of citations. I will take me some time to delve into them.

ancientbuddhism wrote:
The khandhā are not exactly a summary of dukkha. Dukkha is a pathway chosen out of avijjā and through taṇhā.


But Saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā "in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering." S 56.11

With mettā, Ayya Sobhana
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:30 am

AyyaSobhana wrote:Thank you everyone for a useful set of citations. I will take me some time to delve into them.

ancientbuddhism wrote:
The khandhā are not exactly a summary of dukkha. Dukkha is a pathway chosen out of avijjā and through taṇhā.


But Saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā "in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering." S 56.11


Yes, but the burden is no longer carried in release. It is the context of upādāna that give the khandhā dukkha. Otherwise these are released with the absence of avijja, taṇhā, upādāna and the resultant pathway to dukkha .
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby robertk » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:02 am

also:

From the Samyutta Nikaya (translated as Connected discourses by
Bhikkhu Bodhi) p.868 Khandhavagga

Dukkha:


QUOTE

"
At Savatthi. Bhikkus form is suffering, feeling is suffering,
perception is suffering, volitional formations are suffering,
consciousness is suffering. Seeing this he understands...there is no
more for this sate of being"
end of sutta
( form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness
are the five khandhas)


====

p869 Khandhavagga 16(5)What is Dukkha?


QUOTE

"
Bhikkhus form(rupa) is suffering..
Feeling is suffering...
Perception is suffering.
volitional formations are suffering..
Conmsciousness is suffering..."



p870 19(8) Khandavagga Suffering with cause


QUOTE

"
Bhikkus form is suffering . The cause and condition for the arising
of form is also suffering. As form is has originated from what is
suffering, how could it be happiness."



The sutta repeats for all the khandas
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby robertk » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:04 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:
AyyaSobhana wrote:Thank you everyone for a useful set of citations. I will take me some time to delve into them.

ancientbuddhism wrote:
The khandhā are not exactly a summary of dukkha. Dukkha is a pathway chosen out of avijjā and through taṇhā.


But Saṅkhittena pañcupādānakkhandhā dukkhā "in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering." S 56.11


Yes, but the burden is no longer carried in release. It is the context of upādāna that give the khandhā dukkha. Otherwise these are released with the absence of avijja, taṇhā, upādāna and the resultant pathway to dukkha .

What do you mean by release?
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby ancientbuddhism » Thu Nov 07, 2013 2:12 pm

robertk wrote:What do you mean by release?


The pañcupādānakkhandhā are dukkha through the habit of taking up (upādāya) cognition of the corporeal as ‘I am’ (asmī) or Self.

Not taking up (anupādāya) of the khandhā is release of the burden of self-identification with the khandhā. The khandhā are still there, just without taṇhā and the pathway to dukkha.
Katamo ca bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo: samatho ca vipassanā ca. Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave asaṅkhatagāmī maggo.

“And what, bhikkhus, is the path leading to the unconditioned? Calm and insight. This, bhikkhus, is called the path leading to the unconditioned.” SN. 43.2 – Samathavipassanāsuttaṃ

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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby robertk » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:21 am

only at the death of an arahat is there true release from dukkha inherent in the khandhas:
The Nettippakaraṇa:

Herein, the world is, at one time or another, somewhat free from to the unsatisfactoriness of pain (dukkhadukkhatā) as well as the unsatisfactoriness of change (vipariṇāmadukkhatā). Why is that? Because there are those in the world who have little sickness and are long-lived. But only the nibbāna component with no fuel remaining (anupādisesa nibbānadhātu) liberates from the unsatisfactoriness of fabrications (saṅkhāradukkhatā).
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:50 am

AyyaSobhana wrote:Lately I have found it useful to consider the sequence avijja - sankhara - vinnana in a psychological sense...


Looking at it like that, wouldn't sankhara be very similar to tanha?
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Re: Meaning of sankhara in dependent origination

Postby Ananda26 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 3:41 pm

AyyaSobhana wrote:Meanings of Sankhara: All conditioned things, the 5 aggregates of clinging in summary, the 4th aggregate taken by itself, volitional formations. This is from Analayo's article in Encyclopaedia of Buddhism. http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/fileadmin/pdf/analayo/Sankhara.pdf

Lately I have found it useful to consider the sequence avijja - sankhara - vinnana in a psychological sense, where avijja is both the delusion of self and not seeing of things as they are; sankhara is a shorthand for pancupadanakkhandha, the five aggregates of clinging which are the Buddha's summary of dukkha; and vinnana is both the culmination of dukkha in pancupadanakkhandha and the relinking consciousness that takes us over to the next existence.

I know this is not the standard way to consider it, but find this approach very juicy for practice, both on and off the cushion. Are there others using this sequence in the Dhamma as a field for practice (that is, not just a theory)? Sorry about the diacritics.


Sankara: Formations

As found in dependent origination

Ignorance conditions formations. Formations conditions Consciousness.
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