Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

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zan
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Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:18 pm

I am extremely confused by the sutta SN 22.79, following is an excerpt that is the most confusing part. The sutta explains each aggregate. But then it explains that volitional formations construct each of the other aggregates, including itself.

From this it would seem that form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness are all generated by volitional formations. So there are five aggregates but ultimately only one because it is what is constructing the other four. And because the aggregates include sensing and perceiving, it implies that all that is perceived and sensed is generated by volitional formations. So there would truly be nothing but volitional formations experiencing themselves.

So, for example, if a person perceives an object with their eye then, according to this, the eye, and the perception and also the object were all generated by volitional formations.

However if the object is temperature born matter then it could not possibly have been created by volitional formations because temperature born matter is not something created by volitional formations. So how could it be said that volitional formations construct all five aggregates when a being can sense objects that are not volitional formations and that very sensing depends on a dyad of the eye making contact with a form for consciousness of the object to arise?

Clearly I must be reading it wrong. Could someone please clarify?

SN 22.79:
And why, bhikkhus, do you call them volitional formations? ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations. And what is the conditioned that they construct? They construct conditioned form as form; they construct conditioned feeling as feeling; they construct conditioned perception as perception; they construct conditioned volitional formations as volitional formations; they construct conditioned consciousness as consciousness. ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations.
Kiñca, bhikkhave, saṅkhāre vadetha? Saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ron­tīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘saṅkhārā’ti vuccati. Kiñca saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti? Rūpaṃ rūpattāya saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti, vedanaṃ vedanattāya saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti, saññaṃ saññattāya saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti, saṅkhāre saṅkhārattāya saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti, viññāṇaṃ viññāṇattāya saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti. Saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ron­tīti kho, bhikkhave, tasmā ‘saṅkhārā’ti vuccati
Last edited by zan on Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:32 pm

Edited for clarity.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by santa100 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:36 am

zan wrote:From this it would seem that form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness are all generated by volitional formations. So there are five aggregates but ultimately only one because it is what is constructing the other four. And because the aggregates include sensing and perceiving, it implies that all that is perceived and sensed is generated by volitional formations. So there would truly be nothing but volitional formations experiencing themselves.
Ven. Bodhi's intro to "Connected Discourse" mentioned 5 different doctrinal contexts to the word Sankhara. The "active" Sankhara context perform the construction to create the "passive" Sankhara context (the Sankhara of the Five Aggregates). He further explains:
The noun straddles both sides of the active-passive divide. Thus saºkh›ras are both things which put together, construct, and compound other things, and the things that are put together, constructed, and compounded.
And the note to SN 22.79 clarifies:
This passage shows the active role of cetana, volition, in constructing experienced reality. Not only does volition influence the objective content of the experience, but it also shapes the psychophysical organism within which it has arisen and, via its role as kamma, shapes the future configurations of the five aggregates to be produced by kamma. In this connection see 35:146, on the six sense bases as “old kamma.”

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by retrofuturist » Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:47 am

Greetings zan,

This previous topic, albeit not in the Classical section, may have relevance to your investigation...

Aggregate?

(buckle in though, it's a bumpy ride...)

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by Spiny Norman » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:51 am

Does Note 2 here help? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-2

It seems to be something to do with the distinction between the "raw data" of perception, and what we then make out of it. It reminds me of the distinction between perceiving and conceiving in MN1. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:11 pm

santa100 wrote:
zan wrote:From this it would seem that form, feeling, perception, volitional formations and consciousness are all generated by volitional formations. So there are five aggregates but ultimately only one because it is what is constructing the other four. And because the aggregates include sensing and perceiving, it implies that all that is perceived and sensed is generated by volitional formations. So there would truly be nothing but volitional formations experiencing themselves.
Ven. Bodhi's intro to "Connected Discourse" mentioned 5 different doctrinal contexts to the word Sankhara. The "active" Sankhara context perform the construction to create the "passive" Sankhara context (the Sankhara of the Five Aggregates). He further explains:
The noun straddles both sides of the active-passive divide. Thus saºkh›ras are both things which put together, construct, and compound other things, and the things that are put together, constructed, and compounded.
And the note to SN 22.79 clarifies:
This passage shows the active role of cetana, volition, in constructing experienced reality. Not only does volition influence the objective content of the experience, but it also shapes the psychophysical organism within which it has arisen and, via its role as kamma, shapes the future configurations of the five aggregates to be produced by kamma. In this connection see 35:146, on the six sense bases as “old kamma.”
Thank you santa. So would you agree that the sutta is saying that the past causes (active sankharas) have cunstructed the present aggregates (passive sankharas)?

So constructing conditioned perceptions as perceptions means the past sankharas have created the current aggregate of perception which then passively percieves other things not necessarily related to the sankharas themselves?

Could you explain it further please? I am really having trouble getting this!
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:18 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings zan,

This previous topic, albeit not in the Classical section, may have relevance to your investigation...

Aggregate?

(buckle in though, it's a bumpy ride...)

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thank you. I have been on a bumpy ride with this already ha ha. That is why I am seeking the smoother surfaced roads of the classical Theravada explanation.
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:37 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Does Note 2 here help? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-2

It seems to be something to do with the distinction between the "raw data" of perception, and what we then make out of it. It reminds me of the distinction between perceiving and conceiving in MN1. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Thank you. I appreciate it. I am hoping to get the Abhidhamma/commentary answer since all of that is clearly laid out. Do you know anything about that? Or perhaps a sutta where it is clearly detailed?
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:53 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:Does Note 2 here help? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .html#fn-2

It seems to be something to do with the distinction between the "raw data" of perception, and what we then make out of it. It reminds me of the distinction between perceiving and conceiving in MN1. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

This was my understanding, buttressed by latter mainstream non-Theravada Buddhist sects seeming to routinely use it that way (the imposition of ordering categories by the mind on the humming chaotic flow of sense data). I don't understand how physically creating aggregates would fit into basic Buddhism and not fall into the error of magical thinking. However, their mental "construction" in the same way contact between sense object and sense organ "creates" or "generates" the sense organ seems to be part and parcel of Buddhist thought. (No one would claim the sudden physical creation of a sense organ here). My understanding of the Abdhidhama is very limited so I don't know understand how the commentarial tradition would justify an actual physical creation of aggregates if it indeed does.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:07 am

Perhaps some of those knowledgeable in the Abdhidhamma and Commentaries could let me know if this is reasonable or not:

According to the Abdhidhamma of the four kinds of matter only one is external and that is temperature born matter (Abhidhammattha Sangaha VI 21). This means that the volitional formations cannot produce perceptions that they could themselves perceive other than of perhaps perceptions of themselves (looking down at one's own feet for example, or thinking or imagining) because volitional formations do not cause temperature born matter but only kamma born matter (and maybe consciousness born matter, not clear on that) and then only internally. Volitional formations do cause the kamma born matter that makes up the form that gives one the ability to perceive. However other than perceiving one's own body and similar things all perceptions necessarily must come from other sources, either perceptions of other beings or inorganic temperature born matter.

In short: volition does not produce external sense stimuli for an individual other than their own body.

If we look at vision for example, according to the suttas, eye consciousness depends on a dyad (SN 35.93) of the physical eye (kamma/volition born matter) making contact with a form (any kind of matter) for consciousness to arise. If there is no such thing as external kamma/volition born matter then the only way for this to occur, other than looking at one's own body, is for the eye to make contact with matter that was not born from one's own volitional formations.

And of course plants deserve a mention. They are not produced by kamma at all and I cannot find them under temperature born matter. Narada Maha Thera has this note:

"There is a certain kind of Rupa-Jivitindriya in plant life. But, Rupa-Jivitindriya in men and animals is differentiated
from that which exists in plants because the former
is conditioned by past Kamma"

Abhidhammattha Sangaha Narada Maha Thera Page 109

And this:

"Hadaya and 8 Indriya rupas (= eye, ear, nose,
tongue, body, masculinity, femininity, and vitality) are
wholly produced by Kamma. Thus jãvitindriya or the life principle
present in animate beings such as men and animals
should he differentiated from the inanimate life of
plants and inorganic substances, as they are not the inevitable
results of Kamma.
They do possess a certain kind of life different from
human beings and animals."

Abhidhammattha Sangaha Narada Maha Thera page 346

So the volitional formations construct the conditioned parts that make up the aggregates but not what is perceived by the aggregates, other than when they perceive themselves.

Also, most talk about kamma born matter is as a resultant from the past and it is said that no single cause can produce an effect, nor does only one effect arise from a given cause (Abhidhammattha Sangaha Bhikkhu Bodhi VIII guide to 3). So this means that one's body cannot be changed or created anew here and now but only influenced by one's volition since it is dictated by the past as well as several causes and effects at once and (not sure about the following) it is made of all four kinds of matter, two of which are not related to kamma or consciousness (temperature and nutriment). Nor could one use one's volition to create a bowl of ice cream for example. Volition only creates internal matter.

Finally, Arahants do not produce new kamma (volition) at all. So if all experience was created solely by volitional formations Arahants would basically be unconscious as they would experience nothing at all. But since it seems that volitional formations only create the form and therefore the ability to perceive and have experiences in the form of kamma born matter, Arahants still have this until their lives end, though no new volition is made, they still perceive and experience.

-Abhidhammattha Sangaha Bhikkhu Bodhi V guide to 18

Is this correct?

Is this explained anywhere in the suttas?
Last edited by zan on Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:00 am, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:33 am

So when the sutta says:

"They construct conditioned form as form"

Perhaps it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of form (body, nose, eyes, ears, etc.) as form because these parts and sense organs are the result of kamma (volition) born matter"

and when it says:

"They construct conditioned perception as perception"

it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of perception as perception because the ability to perceive depends on kamma born form and sense organs."

So volitional formations construct all five aggregates as an effect of past kamma, but they are not the objects of the perceptions of those aggregates.

For example a person may do a good deed and be reborn as a human in a happy state.

Their past volitional formations are producing kamma born matter that makes up the five aggregates that themselves allow for perception of things not produced by volitional formations (as well as those that are) in their current life and produce new volitions that will (unless one becomes an Arahant) create a new set of five aggregates in a future life.

Is this the way to read it?

Are there no suttas that explain SN 22.79?
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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:58 am

Greetings Zan,
zan wrote:Are there no suttas that explain SN 22.79?
Assuming you're speaking specifically with regards to...
SN 22.79 wrote:“And why, bhikkhus, do you call them volitional formations? ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations. And what is the conditioned that they construct? They construct conditioned form as form; they construct conditioned feeling as feeling; they construct conditioned perception as perception; they construct conditioned volitional formations as volitional formations; they construct conditioned consciousness as consciousness. ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations.
... then arguably any sutta that discusses paticcasamuppada talks about how avijja gives rise to all manner of sankharas. I would not see this sutta extract as separate to, or different from, the processes outlined in paticcasamuppada - it's just a way of speaking of paticcasamuppada, through the language of the aggregates.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by santa100 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:59 am

zan wrote:Thank you santa. So would you agree that the sutta is saying that the past causes (active sankharas) have cunstructed the present aggregates (passive sankharas)?
Yes. Perhaps an example might clarify it a bit. A person in a previous life who implemented unwholesome "active" sankhara (ie. active evil volitional formation of killing, stealing, sexually abusive, etc.) will construct future unwholesome "passive" sankharas (ie. future constructed unwholesome Five Aggregates like frail sickly body, experiences mostly painful unpleasant feelings, perceptions, etc.). While another person in a previous life who implemented wholesome sankhara will "construct" a future wholesome Five Aggregates, ie. healthy and beautiful body, experiences mostly pleasant feelings, etc.). See MN 135 for further details.

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:05 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Zan,
zan wrote:Are there no suttas that explain SN 22.79?
Assuming you're speaking specifically with regards to...
SN 22.79 wrote:“And why, bhikkhus, do you call them volitional formations? ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations. And what is the conditioned that they construct? They construct conditioned form as form; they construct conditioned feeling as feeling; they construct conditioned perception as perception; they construct conditioned volitional formations as volitional formations; they construct conditioned consciousness as consciousness. ‘They construct the conditioned,’ bhikkhus, therefore they are called volitional formations.
... then arguably any sutta that discusses paticcasamuppada talks about how avijja gives rise to all manner of sankharas. I would not see this sutta extract as separate to, or different from, the processes outlined in paticcasamuppada - it's just a way of speaking of paticcasamuppada, through the language of the aggregates.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thanks.

Could you please elaborate?

My confusion stems from the fact that normally the khandhas are listed and volitional formations is it's own thing, listed as "volitional formations". However in this sutta it is listed as constructing and conditioning all of the other aggregates and itself as well, so all aggregates are listed separately and singly and then volitional formations contains all aggregates at once. Do you know of a sutta specifically where this listing is clarified? Particularly the wording?

Most of the suttas I have found simply say that volitional formations are just that, but do not say that they construct form as form, etc. nor do they clarify how this process would take place.
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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:09 am

Greetings Zan,

I suspect your post immediately above spawns from the implicit assumption that the five aggregates are necessarily mutually exclusive categories.

If that it the case, I would invite you to challenge this assumption, for I don't remember that being stated anywhere in either the suttas or the commentaries.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:13 am

zan wrote:So when the sutta says:

"They construct conditioned form as form"

Perhaps it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of form (body, nose, eyes, ears, etc.) as form because these parts and sense organs are the result of kamma (volition) born matter"

and when it says:

"They construct conditioned perception as perception"

it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of perception as perception because the ability to perceive depends on kamma born form and sense organs."

So volitional formations construct all five aggregates ...
In English the word "construct" can be used in the sentence "Bob constructed a snake out a rope." to mean "Bob put together pieces of rope to make a (living) snake." or to mean "Bob (or Bob's mind) created the (false) image of a snake in his mind, sparked by the resemblance of a rope to a snake (or its misperception)." You can construct an argument, a sentence, a thought, or a building. "They construct... form as form." could mean also mean "understand .. form as form" which is how I would read it. How is "construct" used in the Pali of the commentary? Is the Pali word used exclusively for physical, material objects or is it used as it in English?

Sorry if I sound particularly dense, but I am trying to understand the comments here.

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:26 am

Caodemarte wrote:
zan wrote:So when the sutta says:

"They construct conditioned form as form"

Perhaps it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of form (body, nose, eyes, ears, etc.) as form because these parts and sense organs are the result of kamma (volition) born matter"

and when it says:

"They construct conditioned perception as perception"

it could be read as:

"They construct the conditioned aggregate of perception as perception because the ability to perceive depends on kamma born form and sense organs."

So volitional formations construct all five aggregates ...
In English the word "construct" can be used in the sentence "Bob constructed a snake out a rope." to mean "Bob put together pieces of rope to make a (living) snake." or to mean "Bob (or Bob's mind) created the (false) image of a snake in his mind, sparked by the resemblance of a rope to a snake (or its misperception)." You can construct an argument, a sentence, a thought, or a building. "They construct... form as form." could mean also mean "understand .. form as form" which is how I would read it. How is "construct" used in the Pali of the commentary? Is the Pali word used exclusively for physical, material objects or is it used as it in English?

Sorry if I sound particularly dense, but I am trying to understand the comments here.

Thank you, interesting point! I don't know. I am sure one of the commentary/Abhidhamma scholars will be along at some point and can help us out :smile:
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:37 am

santa100 wrote:
zan wrote:Thank you santa. So would you agree that the sutta is saying that the past causes (active sankharas) have cunstructed the present aggregates (passive sankharas)?
Yes. Perhaps an example might clarify it a bit. A person in a previous life who implemented unwholesome "active" sankhara (ie. active evil volitional formation of killing, stealing, sexually abusive, etc.) will construct future unwholesome "passive" sankharas (ie. future constructed unwholesome Five Aggregates like frail sickly body, experiences mostly painful unpleasant feelings, perceptions, etc.). While another person in a previous life who implemented wholesome sankhara will "construct" a future wholesome Five Aggregates, ie. healthy and beautiful body, experiences mostly pleasant feelings, etc.). See MN 135 for further details.
So it is an issue of only the present tense being used when past and present is being spoken of?

I will try to break it down as I understand it, could you please let me know if this is correct?:

"They construct conditioned perception as perception"

"They" = past volitional formations

"construct conditioned" = are the cause of

"perception" = the current aggregates that are able to perceive

"as perception" = ???
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by santa100 » Tue Jul 18, 2017 2:52 am

zan wrote:"as perception" = ???
I don't think analyzing the individual English phrases after they've been translated into English will make it clearer. Ven. Bodhi himself said:
Unfortunately English is a poor medium for capturing the interconnections of this sentence in the Pali, with the object (sankhatam), the verb (abhisankharonti), and the subject (sankhara) all derived from the same stem. See my discussion of sankhara in the General Introduction, pp. 44-47. To replicate the Pali we might have rendered it, “They construct the constructed, therefore they are called volitional constructions,” though this would bear certain connotations quite alien to the original. It is also an unfortunate coincidence that “volitional formations,” my rendering for sankhara, is related to “form,” my rendering for rupa. In Pali there is no etymological tie between rupa and sankhara. To capture the several nuances of the verb abhisankharoti we might have taken the liberty of rendering it, in this passage, by two verbs: “to generate,” which conveys the idea that the volitional formations actually produce the other aggregates
So the bottom line is, you have to keep in mind the 2 different contexts and hence 2 different meanings of the word "sankhara": 1. The "active" sense, usually translated as "volitional formation"; versus. 2. The "passive" sense, meaning "constructed phenomena", which in this immediate sutta, meaning the Five Aggregates. So back to the example I gave you: the past active sankhara (the past active volitional formation) conditions/constructs the future passive sankhara (the future passive Five Aggregates).

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Re: Could someone please help me out here? This sutta has thrown me into confusion.

Post by zan » Tue Jul 18, 2017 1:55 pm

santa100 wrote:
zan wrote:"as perception" = ???
I don't think analyzing the individual English phrases after they've been translated into English will make it clearer. Ven. Bodhi himself said:
Unfortunately English is a poor medium for capturing the interconnections of this sentence in the Pali, with the object (sankhatam), the verb (abhisankharonti), and the subject (sankhara) all derived from the same stem. See my discussion of sankhara in the General Introduction, pp. 44-47. To replicate the Pali we might have rendered it, “They construct the constructed, therefore they are called volitional constructions,” though this would bear certain connotations quite alien to the original. It is also an unfortunate coincidence that “volitional formations,” my rendering for sankhara, is related to “form,” my rendering for rupa. In Pali there is no etymological tie between rupa and sankhara. To capture the several nuances of the verb abhisankharoti we might have taken the liberty of rendering it, in this passage, by two verbs: “to generate,” which conveys the idea that the volitional formations actually produce the other aggregates
So the bottom line is, you have to keep in mind the 2 different contexts and hence 2 different meanings of the word "sankhara": 1. The "active" sense, usually translated as "volitional formation"; versus. 2. The "passive" sense, meaning "constructed phenomena", which in this immediate sutta, meaning the Five Aggregates. So back to the example I gave you: the past active sankhara (the past active volitional formation) conditions/constructs the future passive sankhara (the future passive Five Aggregates).
Thank you.

Perhaps we could use the actual Pali in question?

Sankhatam abhisankharonti ti bhikkhave tasma sankhara.

Sankhatam (past voilitional formations?) abhisankharonti (generate) ti bhikkhave tasma sankhara (the present things, using sense three in Bhikkhu Bodhis explanation SN p 44-47) ti vucanti.

Then we would have

"Past volitional formations generate the present things (aggregates), bhikkhus."

So how would the following sentence look then? Particularly confusing is that the word "sanna" is spelled two different ways. How could it be translated that would make more sense?

"saññaṃ (perception?) saññattāya (Perception?) saṅ­kha­ta­mabhi­saṅ­kha­ronti (past volitional formations generate)"

"past volitional formations generate the current aggregate of perceptions ability to perceive (the ability to perceive, not the things perceived nor perceptions themselves)" ?
I don't have much knowledge of the Dhamma, I'm just a beginner. Keep that in mind before you take anything I say too seriously :tongue:

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