Sankhara or dhamma?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Keith
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Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by Keith » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:08 am

This has indubitably been asked many times, but the words are so common I'm not going to even attempt to search the forum for an answer, so I was hoping wise folk here could help me.

Sabbe sankhara anicca.
Sabbe sankhara dukkha.
Sabbe dhamma anatta.

Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma anicca?
Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma dukkha?
Is this statement true: Sabbe sankhara anatta?

Why? Why not? What is the difference between sankhara (formations?) and dhamma (phenomena?) in these contexts?

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robertk
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by robertk » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:54 am

it depends on context.
Sometimes Nibbana is included among dhammas, and it is not anicca and not dukkha although it is anatta.

Chat2enlighten
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Re: Sankhara or Dhamma?

Post by Chat2enlighten » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:00 pm

I think the question is worthy of considering.
Here are my humble answers.
We need to understand clearly what sankhara and dhamma are.
IMO the relationship between sankhara and dhamma is that of action and the subject of action.
Sankhara is action and dhamma is the subject of action.
Motion or action equals to force that makes things existing.
All things are to arise, stay, and finally fade away. The whole process is motion and life force.
Therefore all action of things, which is sankhara is impermanent and unsatisfactory because it comes to an end eventually.
Likewise all things, which are dhammas are also impermanent and unsatisfactory.
Lastly action is not substantial(=anatta) since it merely passes away in other words it is shown and gone briefly.

chownah
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by chownah » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:51 pm

Here is definition number 4 from nyanatiloka's dictionary for the word 'sankhara':
4. It occurs further in the sense of anything formed (saṅkhata, q.v.) and conditioned, and includes all things whatever in the world, all phenomena of existence. This meaning applies, e.g. to the well-known passage, "All formations are impermanent... subject to suffering" (sabbe saṅkhāra aniccā ... dukkhā). In that context, however, s.[Note: s. here means sankhara] is subordinate to the still wider and all-embracing term dhamma (thing); for dhamma includes also the Unformed or Unconditioned Element (asaṅkhata-dhātu), i.e. Nibbāna (e.g. in sabbe dhammā anattā, "all things are without a self").
I hope you see I have added a short Note: for clarity. I think this is an exact answer to your question.
chownah

Keith
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by Keith » Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:25 pm

Very clear, thank you chownah. All sankharas are dhammas, but not all dhammas are sankharas

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DooDoot
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:32 pm

Keith wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:08 am
Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma anicca?
Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma dukkha?
No because the word 'dhamma' includes the unconditioned permanent satisfactory dhamma, namely, Nibbana. NIbbana is not anicca & not dukkha therefore not all dhammas are anicca & dukkha. Only "sankhara" ("conditioned dhammas") are anicca & dukkha.

MN 115 says the elements (dhatu) can be divided into two types: sankhata (conditioned) and asankhata (the unconditioned). Thus dhamma/dhatu includes both sankhata & asankhata; where as sankhara includes only sankhata dhatu.
Keith wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:08 am
Is this statement true: Sabbe sankhara anatta?
Yes.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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chownah
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by chownah » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:21 am

Keith wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:25 pm
Very clear, thank you chownah. All sankharas are dhammas, but not all dhammas are sankharas
Yes.....and note that it seems that there is only one dhamma which is not a sankhara that dhamma being nibanna.
chownah

pegembara
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Re: Sankhara or dhamma?

Post by pegembara » Mon Nov 11, 2019 5:22 am

Keith wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:08 am
This has indubitably been asked many times, but the words are so common I'm not going to even attempt to search the forum for an answer, so I was hoping wise folk here could help me.

Sabbe sankhara anicca.
Sabbe sankhara dukkha.
Sabbe dhamma anatta.

Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma anicca?
Is this statement true: Sabbe dhamma dukkha?
Is this statement true: Sabbe sankhara anatta?

Why? Why not? What is the difference between sankhara (formations?) and dhamma (phenomena?) in these contexts?
Sabbe sankhara anicca.
Sabbe sankhara dukkha.
Sabbe sankhara anatta.

The above 3 are true. All that arises, passes away and is clearly seen as not self.

The unconditioned doesn't arise/pass and can be mistaken as "a self" but is clearly refuted by the last verse
-Sabbe dhamma anatta.
"When, Bahiya, for you in the seen is merely what is seen... in the cognized is merely what is cognized, then, Bahiya, you will not be 'with that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'with that,' then, Bahiya, you will not be 'in that.' When, Bahiya, you are not 'in that,' then, Bahiya, you will be neither here nor beyond nor in between the two. Just this is the end of suffering."
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.

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