Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

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NuanceOfSuchness
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Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by NuanceOfSuchness »

In my current observations vedana seems to be something quite distinct from emotion. Emotion seems to drive intentions hence sankhara. However, in my observations I'm noticing a momentary sensation that precedes the gross emotion and comes almost immediately after sensory input. Is this momentary sensation vedana?

Here's a rundown: I place my attention at the eye organ. The eye organ points to a form. There's a momentary sensation which is accompanied by an interpretation. Here, a gross feeling occurs accompanied by the need to want to change myself or the environment in some way. Once everything settles I overlay the three lakshanas.

In as much detail as possible could you describe vedana and saṅkhara?
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by thepea »

Every thought produces a sensation, you do not have to link the thought to the particular sensation.
Ones reaction to particular sensation produces sankhara.
Sankhara can be type like drawing a line in water passes immediately, drawing line in sand takes time to pass or like chiseling in rock, takes looooong time to pass.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by Jeff_ »

NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pm In as much detail as possible could you describe vedana and saṅkhara?
A few discourses that might be helpful are SN 36:22 (The One-Hundred-and-Eight Exposition) and MN 43 and 44 (respectively, the Greater and Shorter Sets of Questions and Answers).

A key point from SN 36:22 is that the Buddha places feeling (vedana) in several different classification schemes.

From MN 44, we see that fabrications or processes (sankhara) are of three types, bodily, verbal, and mental — and that feeling (vedana) and perception (sanna) reappear under the heading mental sankhara. So there's a kind of nesting going on that complicates any simple answer to your first question, "Is this momentary sensation vedana?"
suttacentral.net MN 44 wrote:Perception and feeling are mental. They’re tied up with the mind, that’s why perception and feeling are mental processes.

From MN 43, I take the following as an important point with regard to your questions (to prevent a fruitless quest to isolate vedana):
dhammatalks.org MN 43 wrote:“Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them.”
With regard to emotion driving intention, you might like to read MN 137. The version on dhammatalks.org has a helpful introduction.

All of this is to say, if you focus on processes and where they lead, you will probably do better than trying to find entities.

As for overlaying the three marks (not that you asked about this…), this is a point of contention. I come down on the side of those who describe this as letting go out of poverty, and prefer the approach as explained here by Ajahn Lee to Somdet Phra Mahawirawong:
One day he said, ‘I never dreamed that sitting in samadhi would be so beneficial, but there’s one thing that has me bothered. To make the mind still and bring it down to its basic resting level (bhavanga): Isn’t this the essence of becoming and birth?’

‘That’s what samadhi is,’ I told him, ‘becoming and birth.’

‘But the Dhamma we’re taught to practice is for the sake of doing away with becoming and birth. So what are we doing giving rise to more becoming and birth?’

‘If you don’t make the mind take on becoming, it won’t give rise to knowledge, because knowledge has to come from becoming if it’s going to do away with becoming. This is becoming on a small scale—uppatika bhava—which lasts for a single mental moment. The same holds true with birth. To make the mind still so that samadhi arises for a long mental moment is birth. Say we sit in concentration for a long time until the mind gives rise to the five factors of jhana: That’s birth. If you don’t do this with your mind, it won’t give rise to any knowledge of its own. And when knowledge can’t arise, how will you be able to let go of ignorance? It’d be very hard.

‘As I see it,’ I went on, ‘most students of the Dhamma really misconstrue things. Whatever comes springing up, they try to cut it down and wipe it out. To me, this seems wrong. It’s like people who eat eggs. Some people don’t know what a chicken is like: This is ignorance. As soon as they get hold of an egg, they crack it open and eat it. But say they know how to incubate eggs. They get ten eggs, eat five of them, and incubate the rest. While the eggs are incubating, that’s “becoming.” When the baby chicks come out of their shells, that’s “birth.” If all five chicks survive, then as the years pass it seems to me that the person who once had to buy eggs will start benefiting from his chickens. He’ll have eggs to eat without having to pay for them. And if he has more than he can eat, he can set himself up in business, selling them. In the end he’ll be able to release himself from poverty.

‘So it is with practicing samadhi: If you’re going to release yourself from becoming, you first have to go live in becoming. If you’re going to release yourself from birth, you’ll have to know all about your own birth.’

Excerpt From: Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo. “The Autobiography of Phra Ajaan Lee.”
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by char101 »

NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pm In my current observations vedana seems to be something quite distinct from emotion.
There are only 3 vedana: pain, pleasure, and indifferent feeling. Emotions like anger are vinanna + sankhara + vedana = thoughts with strong feeling. The one that is conscious of the object is vinanna, the feeling either painful or pleasant is vinanna, the other various mental factors are sankhara.
Emotion seems to drive intentions hence sankhara. However, in my observations I'm noticing a momentary sensation that precedes the gross emotion and comes almost immediately after sensory input. Is this momentary sensation vedana?
It is sanna (perception).
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by SteRo »

Everything is saṅkhāra, so vedanā is not different from saṅkhāra. However conceptually one might specify experiential signs to group saṅkhāras of shared characteristics which then results in names like "vedanā", "consciousness", "volition" and the like.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by DooDoot »

SteRo wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:18 am Everything is saṅkhāra
Everything conditioned is a "sankhara" but the word "sankhara", similar to "dhamma", is used very broadly in Pali. For newbies to Pali Buddhism, such as yourself, there is this on the internet: The word ‘sankhara’ in context.
SteRo wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:18 amso vedanā is not different from saṅkhāra
As "khandha", vedana khandha & sankhara khandha are different. As "conditioned things" ("sankhata"), vedana khandha & sankhara khandha are both conditioned.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by DooDoot »

NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pm In my current observations vedana seems to be something quite distinct from emotion.
Correct. Vedana is the feeling of sense impact.
SN 22.79 wrote: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 neither-pleasure-nor-pain. Because it feels, it is called feeling.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
:candle:
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pm Emotion seems to drive intentions hence sankhara.
Correct. Sankhara is to form/construct with defilements, intentions & thought construction; including the view of "self".
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pmHowever, in my observations I'm noticing a momentary sensation that precedes the gross emotion and comes almost immediately after sensory input. Is this momentary sensation vedana?
Yes. If I look around the room i am in and outside the window, various sense objects have a different sensory impact. The sense there are different impacts from sense contacts is vedana.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pmHere's a rundown: I place my attention at the eye organ. The eye organ points to a form. There's a momentary sensation which is accompanied by an interpretation.
The interpretation is generally sankhara. For example, looking at the light bulb on the wall is sense contact. The feeling the bright light hurts the eyes, causing the eyes to squint, is vedana. Then the thought/interpretation: "The light is bright & harmful; I should look away from the bright light" is sankhara.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pmHere, a gross feeling occurs accompanied by the need to want to change myself or the environment in some way. Once everything settles I overlay the three lakshanas.
The "want" is craving and falls into the category or aggregate of "sankhara".
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 7:00 pmIn as much detail as possible could you describe vedana and saṅkhara?
Vedana is the sensory impact of pleasantness, comfort, etc; unpleasantness, painfulness, discomfort, etc; or in-between or neutral. Vedana is ultimately unavoidable. Even Buddhas are subject to vedana at sense contact.

Sankhara is a want, craving, drive & thinking added to sense contact & feeling. Sankhara can completely stop, such as a Buddha who ends craving, greed, hatred & delusion. A Buddha can choose to generate wholesome sankharas (wholesome thoughts & intentions) although a Buddha can also choose not to (such as remain silent; although that choice is also a sankhara).
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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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by NuanceOfSuchness »

thepea wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:26 pm Every thought produces a sensation, you do not have to link the thought to the particular sensation.
Ones reaction to particular sensation produces sankhara.
Sankhara can be type like drawing a line in water passes immediately, drawing line in sand takes time to pass or like chiseling in rock, takes looooong time to pass.
I like the description of sankhara. Thanks.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by NuanceOfSuchness »

Jeff_ wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:45 am “Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them.”
Thanks. With regard to the quote above I read that it is possible to fragment feeling, perception and consciousness but one cannot accurately distinguish them from one another. How is it that the possibility exists for fragmentation with distinction?
Jeff_ wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:45 am All of this is to say, if you focus on processes and where they lead, you will probably do better than trying to find entities.
Precisely. My faculties lay clearly in what you describe here.
Jeff_ wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:45 am As for overlaying the three marks (not that you asked about this…), this is a point of contention. I come down on the side of those who describe this as letting go out of poverty, and prefer the approach as explained here by Ajahn Lee to Somdet Phra Mahawirawong:
The integration of the three lakshanas in the way I have mentioned has yielded much progress. I don't intend to adopt another method.

I enjoyed the suttas you shared! Thanks.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

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DooDoot wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:36 am The interpretation is generally sankhara. For example, looking at the light bulb on the wall is sense contact. The feeling the bright light hurts the eyes, causing the eyes to squint, is vedana. Then the thought/interpretation: "The light is bright & harmful; I should look away from the bright light" is sankhara.
Thanks. And the action that results from sankhara is kamma? Is all action (speech and bodily) kamma?

Would it be accurate to say that the aggregates can gather around a sense object at such speed that it renders one's ability to observe that gathering such that it is imperceptible?

Additionally, I appear to be watching my aggregates from my aggregates but that mindfulness somehow punches a hole in the haze of their movements thus allowing some clarity to emerge.

Sorry to load on the curiosity. I'm seeing things in greater resolution and I like to understand them more.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

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NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmThe action that results from sankhara is kamma?
Correct. However, that sankhara itself is mental kamma. The scriptures say: "kamma is intention" (AN 6.63).
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pm Is all action (speech and bodily) kamma?
Yes. However, there is also mental kamma, as mentioned. The scriptures teach there are 3 types of kamma: mental, verbal & bodily (AN 6.63). Also, Noble Kamma of the Noble Eightfold Path is a kamma that ends kamma (AN 6.63).
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmWould it be accurate to say that the aggregates can gather around a sense object at such speed that it renders one's ability to observe that gathering such that it is imperceptible?
Yes, aggregates can "build", "grow" or "expand" around a sense object. For example, a minor feeling can expand/grow into a major feeling due to a sense contact/object; and minor impulse or thought can grown/expand into a major proliferation of defilements & thoughts due to a sense contact. MN 149 says:
When one abides inflamed by lust, fettered, infatuated, contemplating gratification, then the five aggregates affected by clinging are built up for oneself in the future; and one’s craving—which brings renewal of being, is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that—increases. One’s bodily and mental troubles increase, one’s bodily and mental torments increase, one’s bodily and mental fevers increase, and one experiences bodily and mental suffering.

https://suttacentral.net/mn149/en/bodhi
Such a phenomena is perceptible. Everything necessary for Dhamma realisation is perceptible. However, to clearly see this "growth" of aggregates; well developed samadhi & clear empty mind is required.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmAdditionally, I appear to be watching my aggregates from my aggregates
Yes, indeed.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pm but that mindfulness somehow punches a hole in the haze of their movements thus allowing some clarity to emerge.
Yes. But that mindfulness & clarity are also aggregates.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmSorry to load on the curiosity. I'm seeing things in greater resolution and I like to understand them more.
Good questions; good insights.
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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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by Jeff_ »

NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:52 pm
Jeff_ wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 12:45 am “Feeling, perception, & consciousness are conjoined, friend, not disjoined. It is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them. For what one feels, that one perceives. What one perceives, that one cognizes. Therefore these qualities are conjoined, not disjoined, and it is not possible, having separated them one from another, to delineate the difference among them.”
Thanks. With regard to the quote above I read that it is possible to fragment feeling, perception and consciousness but one cannot accurately distinguish them from one another. How is it that the possibility exists for fragmentation with distinction?
My reading of this is that such a possibility (fragmentation with distinction) does not exist, because of the conjoined nature of these qualities. For example, a feeling that feels pleasure, a consciousness that cognizes "pleasant", and the perception (mental image or label) that one attaches to the current experience based on past experience (another translation for sanna is memory) are conjoined, and we cannot fragment them with distinction for the reason that all three are required to make sense of the experience.
The integration of the three lakshanas in the way I have mentioned has yielded much progress. I don't intend to adopt another method.
Strictly speaking, concentration isn't a method but a fundamental part of the triple training (virtue, concentration, discernment). You can get a type of concentration by applying the perceptions of impermanence, etc. to your experience. If it is working for you, then that is good. Too much of this can be disorientating, however. (One teacher compared it to taking LSD.) So if you ever feel like you're in a funhouse or that the reality of your experience is always falling behind your ability to get at it, you can perhaps try keeping one frame of reference in mind at a time (feeling, for example), keep the rest of your attention "open", and see how the other parts of your experience arise and fall in relation to your chosen frame of reference, as in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Setting up mindfulness in this way makes it easier if you later decide to develop concentration as a factor of the noble path, since mindfulness shades into concentration.

edit: I removed a reference to concentration being the penultimate part of the noble path, since it is both the last step of the N8P and comes before both right knowledge AND right release (MN 117). Eight of eight or eight of ten, either way it isn't penultimate, my mistake.
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

Post by NuanceOfSuchness »

DooDoot wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 8:46 pm
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmThe action that results from sankhara is kamma?
Correct. However, that sankhara itself is mental kamma. The scriptures say: "kamma is intention" (AN 6.63).
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pm Is all action (speech and bodily) kamma?
Yes. However, there is also mental kamma, as mentioned. The scriptures teach there are 3 types of kamma: mental, verbal & bodily (AN 6.63). Also, Noble Kamma of the Noble Eightfold Path is a kamma that ends kamma (AN 6.63).
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmWould it be accurate to say that the aggregates can gather around a sense object at such speed that it renders one's ability to observe that gathering such that it is imperceptible?
Yes, aggregates can "build", "grow" or "expand" around a sense object. For example, a minor feeling can expand/grow into a major feeling due to a sense contact/object; and minor impulse or thought can grown/expand into a major proliferation of defilements & thoughts due to a sense contact. MN 149 says:
When one abides inflamed by lust, fettered, infatuated, contemplating gratification, then the five aggregates affected by clinging are built up for oneself in the future; and one’s craving—which brings renewal of being, is accompanied by delight and lust, and delights in this and that—increases. One’s bodily and mental troubles increase, one’s bodily and mental torments increase, one’s bodily and mental fevers increase, and one experiences bodily and mental suffering.

https://suttacentral.net/mn149/en/bodhi
Such a phenomena is perceptible. Everything necessary for Dhamma realisation is perceptible. However, to clearly see this "growth" of aggregates; well developed samadhi & clear empty mind is required.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmAdditionally, I appear to be watching my aggregates from my aggregates
Yes, indeed.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pm but that mindfulness somehow punches a hole in the haze of their movements thus allowing some clarity to emerge.
Yes. But that mindfulness & clarity are also aggregates.
NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Sun Feb 09, 2020 4:28 pmSorry to load on the curiosity. I'm seeing things in greater resolution and I like to understand them more.
Good questions; good insights.
Thanks. It's as though you had turned upright what was once overthrown thus revealing what was hidden. (I think that's how that particular pleasantry goes).
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

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Jeff_ wrote: Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:23 am
Strictly speaking, concentration isn't a method but a fundamental part of the triple training (virtue, concentration, discernment). You can get a type of concentration by applying the perceptions of impermanence, etc. to your experience. If it is working for you, then that is good. Too much of this can be disorientating, however. (One teacher compared it to taking LSD.) So if you ever feel like you're in a funhouse or that the reality of your experience is always falling behind your ability to get at it, you can perhaps try keeping one frame of reference in mind at a time (feeling, for example), keep the rest of your attention "open", and see how the other parts of your experience arise and fall in relation to your chosen frame of reference, as in the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta. Setting up mindfulness in this way makes it easier if you later decide to develop concentration as a factor of the noble path, since mindfulness shades into concentration.
Thanks for your response. This probably explains a lot of the interesting experiences I've been having. I seem to have an exceptional ability to concentrate and discern suttas. I agree that concentration isn't a method but a more natural innate ability which can be brought to the fore with training. I'm working with the four frames daily. Concentration has been a critical player for me. I draw a line at detailing siddhis but concentration can produce some interesting effects all of which I have currently termed as obstacles. Still, fun to play with in moderation. Satipatthana is an extremely potent teaching and not for the light-hearted!
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Re: Difference between Vedanā and Saṅkhāra?

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NuanceOfSuchness wrote: Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:41 pm Satipatthana is an extremely potent teaching and not for the light-hearted!
Let’s go back to your original post describing the practice that gave rise to your question about vedana and sankhara.
Here's a rundown: I place my attention at the eye organ. The eye organ points to a form. There's a momentary sensation which is accompanied by an interpretation. Here, a gross feeling occurs accompanied by the need to want to change myself or the environment in some way. Once everything settles I overlay the three lakshanas.
This sounds like you are taking the sixfold internal and external sense media as your frame of reference. That’s fine, but things at that stage are rather complex, no? Especially as the intellect partakes of the range of the other five sense media, it can be a bit much. This is basically a question of temperament, as I understand, so again if it is working, that is good. But your initial question was about vedana, what it is and where it appears in the chain between seeing a form and the arising of a gross sankhara like craving. The first thing I would mention is make sure you are practicing sense-restraint, or you end up going to a lot of effort to chase down and put down things that would have been better left not-picked-up. And perhaps you have tried this but from your question I thought to suggest, why not start with vedana and stick with it, then see how it changes and what else changes in relation to it. This will give you a different perspective with which to answer your question, better than taking either my word or anybody else’s on what vedana is and how it works in relation to perception, formations, and consciousness — and don’t forget form, whether the gross form of the physical body or the subtle (“fine-material”) form of the four jhanas.
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