Goofaholix wrote:Sure, why not, providing we can do so in english.
Well, you see, I'm not so sure about the "obviously not everything excluding Nibanna". As opposed to the classical Mahavihara approach presented by Mike above where sankhara is granted multifarious contextual meanings (and is regarded as "past-life kamma" in the context of paticcasamuppada), I concur with Nanavira Thera when he says (in the short note on SANKHARA) that "the word sankhara
, in all
contexts, means 'something that something else depends on', that is to say, a determination
(determinant)." Furthermore, in section 18 of "A Note On Paticcasamuppada", he writes...
Nanavira Thera wrote:"Since to be sankhata and to be paticcasamuppanna are one and the same thing, we see that each item in the series... is preceded by a sankhára upon which it depends, and that therefore the total collection of items in the series depends upon the total collection of their respective sankhárá. In this sense we might say that the total collection of items is sankhárapaccayá. But since this statement means only that each and every particular item of the series depends upon a particular sankhára, it does not say anything fresh. Sankhárapaccayá, however, can be understood in a different way: instead of 'dependent upon a collection of particular sankhárá', we can take it as meaning 'dependent upon the fact that there are such things as sankhárá'. In the first sense sankhárapaccayá is the equivalent of paticcasamuppanna ('dependently arisen'), and applies to a given series as a collection of particular items; in the second sense sankhárapaccayá is the equivalent of paticcasamuppáda ('dependent arising'), and applies to a given series as the exemplification of a structural principle. In the second sense it is true quite generally of all formulations of paticcasamuppáda, and not merely of this formulation (since any other formulation will consist of some other set of particular items). Paticcasamuppáda is, in fact, a structural principle (formally stated in the first Sutta passage at the head of this Note), and not one or another specific chain of sankhárá. It is thus an over-simplification to regard any one given formulation in particular terms as paticcasamuppáda. Every such formulation exemplifies the principle: none states it. Any paticcasamuppáda series, purely in virtue of its being an exemplification of paticcasamuppáda, depends upon the fact that there are such things as sankhárá; and a fortiori the series ... depends upon the fact of the existence of sankhárá: if there were no such things as sankhárá there would be no such thing as paticcasamuppáda at all, and therefore no such thing as this individual formulation of it. "
Further to that, it is said in the suttas that avijja is dependent upon avijja, thus the entirety of paticcasamuppáda consists of formed dhammas (sankhata dhamma).
Similarly, this applies too to the five aggregates, showing that the five aggregates are classificatory bundles, as opposed to being the discrete and separable building blocks that come together to form a person.
In your opinion are the terms sankhata and sankhara synonymous? Is it the translation that is causing confusion?
Sankhata means formed/determined, whereas sankhara means formation/determination, and sankhara is equivalent to sankhata dhamma (formed dhammas).
However, some people are not so partial to Ven. Nanavira, so to complement the above, I give you these words from (everybody loves) Ajahn Chah.
Ajahn Chah wrote:The Buddha talked about sankhata dhammas and asankhata dhammas -- conditioned and unconditioned things. Conditioned things are innumerable -- material or immaterial, big or small -- if our mind is under the influence of delusion, it will proliferate about these things, dividing them up into good and bad, short and long, coarse and refined. Why does the mind proliferate like this? Because it doesn't know determined reality, it doesn't see the Dhamma. Not seeing the Dhamma, the mind is full of clinging. As long as the mind is held down by clinging there can be no escape, there is confusion, birth, old age, sickness and death, even in the thinking processes. This kind of mind is called the sankhata dhamma (conditioned mind).
Asankhata dhamma, the unconditioned, refers to the mind which has seen the Dhamma, the truth, of the Five Khandhas as they are -- as Transient, Imperfect and Ownerless. All ideas of "me" and "them," "mine" and "theirs," belong to the determined reality. Really they are all conditions. When we know the truth of conditions, as neither ourselves nor belonging to us, we let go of conditions and the determined. When we let go of conditions we attain the Dhamma, we enter into and realize the Dhamma. When we attain the Dhamma we know clearly. What do we know? We know that there are only conditions and determinations, no being, no self, no "us" nor "them." This is knowledge of the way things are.
Seeing in this way the mind transcends things. The body may grow old, get sick and die, but the mind transcends this state. When the mind transcends conditions, it knows the unconditioned. the mind becomes the unconditioned, the state which no longer contains conditioning factors. The mind is no longer conditioned by the concerns of the world, conditions no longer contaminate the mind. Pleasure and pain no longer affect it. Nothing can affect the mind or change it, the mind is assured, it has escaped all constructions. Seeing the true nature of conditions and the determined, the mind becomes free.
This freed mind is called the Unconditioned, that which is beyond the power of constructing influences. If the mind doesn't really know conditions and determinations, it is moved by them. Encountering good, bad, pleasure, or pain, it proliferates about them. Why does it proliferate? Because there is still a cause. What is the cause? The cause is the understanding that the body is one's self or belongs to the self; that feelings are self or belonging to self; that perception is self or belonging to self; that conceptual thought is self or belonging to self; that consciousness is self or belonging to self. The tendency to conceive things in terms of self is the source of happiness, suffering, birth, old age, sickness and death. This is the worldly mind, spinning around and changing at the directives of worldly conditions. This is the conditioned mind.
Dhp 1 wrote:Mind precedes all dhammas. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought.