What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

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DooDoot
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What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:09 am

Dear forum

I was reading SN 12.51 and found the sutta difficult to follow. The sutta appears to begin & end with a standard description of dependent origination. However, in the middle, the sutta departs into a discussion about generating formations, as follows:
Avijjāgato yaṃ, bhikkhave, purisapuggalo puññañce saṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti, puññūpagaṃ hoti viññāṇaṃ. Apuññañce saṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti, apuññūpagaṃ hoti viññāṇaṃ. Āneñjañce saṅkhāraṃ abhisaṅkharoti āneñjūpagaṃ hoti viññāṇaṃ. Yato kho, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno avijjā pahīnā hoti vijjā uppannā, so avijjāvirāgā vijjuppādā neva puñ­ñābhi­saṅ­khā­raṃ abhisaṅkharoti na apuñ­ñābhi­saṅ­khā­raṃ abhisaṅkharoti na āneñ­jābhi­saṅ­khā­raṃ abhisaṅkharoti. Anabhi­saṅ­kha­ronto anabhi­sañ­ceta­yanto na kiñci loke upādiyati; anupādiyaṃ na paritassati, aparitassaṃ paccattaññeva parinibbāyati. ‘Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā’ti pajānāti.

Bhikkhus, if a person immersed in ignorance generates a meritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the meritorious; if he generates a demeritorious volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the demeritorious; if he generates an imperturbable volitional formation, consciousness fares on to the imperturbable. But when a bhikkhu has abandoned ignorance and aroused true knowledge, then, with the fading away of ignorance and the arising of true knowledge, he does not generate a meritorious volitional formation, or a demeritorious volitional formation, or an imperturbable volitional formation. Since he does not generate or fashion volitional formations, he does not cling to anything in the world. Not clinging, he is not agitated. Not being agitated, he personally attains Nibbāna. He understands: ‘Destroyed is birth, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done, there is no more for this state of being.’

https://suttacentral.net/en/sn12.51
Now, in Pali, sankhara refers to many types of mental formations. For example, merely within the 12 conditions of dependent origination, at the very least, the conditions of ignorance, sankhara, components of nama-rupa such as volition, craving, attachment & becoming for most Buddhists would be regarded as types of mental formations, i.e., falling within the scope of sankhara khandha.

In SN 12.51, when reading the sutta superficially, based on its structure & emphasis, the impression is gained that meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations are the 2nd condition of dependent origination. Thus, many scholars & commentaries follow this view.

However, when reading the sutta more carefully, the sutta states:
Since he does not generate or fashion volitional formations, he does not cling to anything in the world.
This sentence (which is common phrase in the suttas regarding contexts of clinging; e.g. MN 37; MN 140) also gives the impression meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations might be the 9th condition of dependent origination, i.e., types of clinging (upadana).

Any opinions? What do we think about this?

:reading:

SarathW
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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am

I quite did not understand your question.
Sankhara in DO includes both wholesome and unwholesome.
What if Dependent origination is started with wisdom instead of ignorance?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

DooDoot
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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:33 am

SarathW wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am
I quite did not understand your question.
The question is do meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations in SN 12.51 refer to types of clinging (upadana).
SarathW wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am
Sankhara in DO includes both wholesome and unwholesome.
How?
SarathW wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am
What if Dependent origination is started with wisdom instead of ignorance?
It appears DO cannot start with wisdom because it is Dependent Cessation (DC) that starts with wisdom.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by Zom » Thu Dec 28, 2017 2:56 am

This sentence (which is common phrase in the suttas regarding contexts of clinging; e.g. MN 37; MN 140) also gives the impression meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations might be the 9th condition of dependent origination, i.e., types of clinging (upadana).
Just as in the case with asserions like: "Ignorance leads to suffering" (or smth like that). Yes, it does, but at the same time this does not mean that "ignorance = birth because in 12-link scheme it is birth which is a condition for suffering" .)

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:18 am

It appears DO cannot start with wisdom because it is Dependent Cessation (DC) that starts with wisdom.
Thanks.
What is the Pali word for it?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:21 am

SarathW wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am
Sankhara in DO includes both wholesome and unwholesome.
How?
============

It is. Can someone help?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Nicolas
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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by Nicolas » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:43 pm

SarathW wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:21 am
SarathW wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 9:44 am
Sankhara in DO includes both wholesome and unwholesome.
How?
Bright kamma leads to bright result (i.e. pleasant birth), c.f. Ariyamagga Sutta AN 4.235 and most suttas that talk about kamma. DO describes all birth, and so all kamma that leads to birth, which includes wholesome kamma.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:20 pm

Thanks Nicolas. :D
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:29 pm

Nicolas wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:43 pm
Bright kamma leads to bright result (i.e. pleasant birth), c.f. Ariyamagga Sutta AN 4.235 and most suttas that talk about kamma. DO describes all birth, and so all kamma that leads to birth, which includes wholesome kamma.
Thanks Nicolas. However, for me, your reply does not answer the question, which is do those specific formations in SN 12.51 arise at the 2nd link or at the 9th link?
SarathW wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:20 pm
Thanks Nicolas. :D
Despite common ideas about it, I doubt kamma is sankhara (2nd link) in dependent origination because to be kamma it sounds far too early. For there to be ordinary kamma, I think there must be self-view & self-view appears to not arise until attachment (upadana).
Lord, who makes contact?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'makes contact.' If I were to say 'makes contact,' then 'Who makes contact?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes contact?' And the valid answer is, 'From the six sense media as a requisite condition comes contact. From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling.'"

"Lord, who feels?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'feels.' If I were to say 'feels,' then 'Who feels?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes feeling?' And the valid answer is, 'From contact as a requisite condition comes feeling. From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving.'"

"Lord, who craves?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'craves.' If I were to say 'craves,' then 'Who craves?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes craving?' And the valid answer is, 'From feeling as a requisite condition comes craving. From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging/sustenance.'"

"Lord, who clings?"

"Not a valid question," the Blessed One said. "I don't say 'clings.' If I were to say 'clings,' then 'Who clings?' would be a valid question. But I don't say that. When I don't say that, the valid question is 'From what as a requisite condition comes clinging?' And the valid answer is, 'From craving as a requisite condition comes clinging. From clinging as a requisite condition comes becoming. From becoming as a requisite condition comes birth. From birth as a requisite condition, then aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair come into play. Such is the origination of this entire mass of stress & suffering.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
Bhikshus,
dependent on the sensuality element [ignorance], perception of sensuality arises [sankhara];
dependent on perception of sensuality, sensual intention [nama-rupa] arises;
dependent on sensual intention, sensual desire [tanha] arises;
dependent on sensual desire, sensual passion arises;
dependent on sensual passion , sensual quest [upadana] arises;
engaged in the quest of sensuality, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself [bhava; kamma] wrongly in these three
ways—with the body, with speech, and with the mind

SN 14.12

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:43 pm

1. As the 2nd link of the formula of dependent origination, (paṭiccasamuppāda, q.v.), saṅkhāra has the active aspect, 'forming, and signifies kamma (q.v.), i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volitional activity (cetanā) of body (kāya-s.), speech (vacī-s.) or mind (citta- or mano-s.). This definition occurs, e.g. at S. XII, 2, 27. For s. in this sense, the word 'kamma-formation' has been coined by the author. In other passages, in the same context, s. is defined by reference to (a) meritorious kamma-formations (puññābhisaṅkhāra), (b) demeritorious k. (apuññabhisaṅkhāra), (c) imperturbable k. (āneñjābhisaṅkhāra), e.g. in S. XII, 51; D. 33. This threefold division covers karmic activity in all spheres of existence: the meritorious kamma-formations extend to the sensuous and the fine-material sphere, the demeritorious ones only to the sensuous sphere, and the 'imperturbable' only to the immaterial sphere.

https://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic3_s.htm
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:21 pm

SarathW wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:43 pm
1. As the 2nd link of the formula of dependent origination, (paṭiccasamuppāda, q.v.), saṅkhāra has the active aspect, 'forming, and signifies kamma (q.v.), i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volitional activity (cetanā) of body (kāya-s.), speech (vacī-s.) or mind (citta- or mano-s.). This definition occurs, e.g. at S. XII, 2, 27. For s. in this sense, the word 'kamma-formation' has been coined by the author. In other passages, in the same context, s. is defined by reference to (a) meritorious kamma-formations (puññābhisaṅkhāra), (b) demeritorious k. (apuññabhisaṅkhāra), (c) imperturbable k. (āneñjābhisaṅkhāra), e.g. in S. XII, 51; D. 33. This threefold division covers karmic activity in all spheres of existence: the meritorious kamma-formations extend to the sensuous and the fine-material sphere, the demeritorious ones only to the sensuous sphere, and the 'imperturbable' only to the immaterial sphere.

https://www.budsas.org/ebud/bud-dict/dic3_s.htm
This is just an opinion. I started the thread to examine SN 12.51 & to question the very quote you posted. I think SN 12.51 might deem the above quote to be wrong. For example, kamma in sensual, material & immaterials spheres sounds like "becoming", per AN 3.76.

SarathW
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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by SarathW » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:34 pm

Now I see your point.
Sankhara is the past kamma.
Thanha, Upathdana and Bhava are present kamma.
See the chart on Page 337

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/buddh ... gsurw6.pdf
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:32 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:09 am
... meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations might be the 9th condition of dependent origination, i.e., types of clinging (upadana). Any opinions? What do we think about this?
I was browsing a book about Abidhamma yesterday, which (obviously correctly) said, in the context of dependent origination, the word 'sankhara' is the suttas is plural while the word 'sankhara' in Abidhamma is singular. This is because Abidhamma has the view that sankhara means meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations and, since these are merely thought or volitional formations, only one type of (either meritorious, demeritorious or imperturbable) formation can arise in one moment. This seems to support the case that sankhara in the suttas, being plural, is not meritorious, demeritorious & imperturbable formations.

When sankhara (kaya, vaci & citta sankhara) are taken as defined in MN 44, all three sankhara can arise together.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:52 am

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:32 am
can arise in one moment
Are you of the opinion that cittakkhana in accordance with Theravāda Abhidhamma are discreet temporal units? Or are they a conceptual framework for stressing moment-to-moment (in a general sense, as in "any given frame of time") general impermanence?
子念昔貧,志意下劣,今於父所,大獲珍寶,并及舍宅、一切財物。甚大歡喜,得未曾有。
The son thought of past poverty, outlook humble, now having from father a treasure harvest, also father's house, all his wealth. Great joy - to have what was never before had.

Τῆς πατρῴας, δόξης σου, ἀποσκιρτήσας ἀφρόνως, ἐν κακοῖς ἐσκόρπισα, ὅν μοι παρέδωκας πλοῦτον· ὅθεν σοι τὴν τοῦ Ἀσώτου, φωνὴν κραυγάζω· Ἥμαρτον ἐνώπιόν σου Πάτερ οἰκτίρμον, δέξαι με μετανοοῦντα, καὶ ποίησόν με, ὡς ἕνα τῶν μισθίων σου.
Your fatherly due I withheld unthinking, in evil I wasted your wealth; a prodigal cries, "I've erred, father, receive the repentant as serf."

妙法蓮華經 Κοντάκιον τοῦ Ἀσώτου

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:07 am

Coëmgenu wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:52 am
Are you of the opinion that cittakkhana in accordance with Theravāda Abhidhamma are discreet temporal units? Or are they a conceptual framework for stressing moment-to-moment (in a general sense, as in "any given frame of time") general impermanence?
Thanks C but, sorry, I can't provide an opinion because I have not studied this matter. Yesterday, I read maybe four paragraphs of a book. But based on your description, cittakkhana sound like both of the above. Regards

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:24 am

DooDoot wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:09 am
Any opinions? What do we think about this?
I just fail to understand the importance of the subtle distinction you are making. It gives the impression that certain links of DO is more relevant to end suffering than others, while by definition, they all depend on and affect each other.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by dylanj » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:51 am

susukhaṃ vata nibbānaṃ,
sammā­sambud­dha­desitaṃ;
asokaṃ virajaṃ khemaṃ,
yattha dukkhaṃ nirujjhatī


Oh! extinction is so very blissful,
As taught by the One Rightly Self-Awakened:
Sorrowless, stainless, secure;
Where suffering all ceases


etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ panītaṁ yadidaṁ sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭi nissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānaṁ

This is peaceful, this is excellent, that is: the stilling of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all attachments, the destruction of craving, detachment, cessation, extinction.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:12 am

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:24 am
I just fail to understand the importance of the subtle distinction you are making.
The distinction is as follows:

1. There are thoughts that just pop or erupt ('asava') out of the mind by themselves; such as the distracting thoughts in meditation.

2. Then there are further thoughts which think about the thoughts that pop out of the mind by themselves.

For example, a bad memory spontaneously pops out of the mind, such as "I hate him". Then another thought judges that thought: "I am a Buddhist; I should not have hateful thoughts". The 2nd thought is attachment (upadana).
Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one objectifies.

MN 18

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Bundokji
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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:42 am

DooDoot wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:12 am
Bundokji wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:24 am
I just fail to understand the importance of the subtle distinction you are making.
The distinction is as follows:

1. There are thoughts that just pop or erupt ('asava') out of the mind by themselves; such as the distracting thoughts in meditation.

2. Then there are further thoughts which think about the thoughts that pop out of the mind by themselves.

For example, a bad memory spontaneously pops out of the mind, such as "I hate him". Then another thought judges that thought: "I am a Buddhist; I should not have hateful thoughts". The 2nd thought is attachment (upadana).
Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives. What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one objectifies.

MN 18
So, thoughts that pops up by themselves (which you described as spontaneous) are not volitional but natural as a response to a certain stimuli, while thoughts judging other thoughts are born out of a sense of ownership of the original thought not seeing the not-self nature of it. Is this correct?
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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Re: What are constructed formations in SN 12.51?

Post by DooDoot » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:56 am

Bundokji wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:42 am
So, thoughts that pops up by themselves (which you described as spontaneous) are not volitional but natural as a response to a certain stimuli...
Actually, I am referring to thoughts that appear even prior to stimuli; that is; thoughts that just pop out of the brain/mind.
while thoughts judging other thoughts are born out of a sense of ownership of the original thought not seeing the not-self nature of it. Is this correct?
Yes.

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