Sankhara aggregate

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barcsimalsi
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by barcsimalsi » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:30 pm

Spiny Norman wrote: It might be significant that in the suttas consciousness, perception and feeling are described as inseparable. Does this imply that the activity of the sankhara aggregate is separable, another level of experience?
Image
Take a domino maze as an illustration.
The way i see it, sankhara aggregate is more like the arrange pattern of the dominos whereas consciousness, perception and feeling represent the type of domino which upon contact is conditioned to hit the next following the arrange pattern. Generally, i don't think they can be separated.

Please don't expect this to be a perfect explanation to the nature of aggregates, just sharing some thoughts here... :candle:

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daverupa
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:48 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote: So Sankhara isn't a thing, it's the willful/"doing-it" aspect of experience that facilitates upadana, or facilitates nibbana, or is free of upadana altogether.
And, of course, there's consciousness of all this, rising-&-falling right along with the rest, as well as the body to which consciousness-of is bound.
I think it's helpful to view the aggregates generally as activities or processes. So could the sankhara aggregate be seen as the activity of decision making?
I think I'll prefer to say 'concomitant volition' over 'deciding', because it's the nexus which determines (!) an aggregate as upadana or not, which isn't always a decision per se. Also, 'deciding' feels more like either sanna or manas activity, to me.

The various translations of the word-play over the aggregates in SN 22.79 is worth studying in this regard (though perhaps the difference between sanna and vinnana is not well-stated there).

Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
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.
...and aggregate sets underlie the function of each & any sense sphere, which are to be seen as old kamma.

So while consciousness-of (vinnana) & sanna & vedana are conjoined, sankhara is not; its utter lack is a feature of jhana, and otherwise developing an awareness of them & calming them is a primary concern of anapanasati.

Ultimately the foregoing methods arrest sankhara, preventing papanca and facilitating dispassion and cessation and clear seeing of things as they are. No need for an act of will might be another way to discuss this.

And, finally, avoiding dark, bright, and mixed volitions, the Blessed One approves of volitions integrous to the Path, such as sammasankappa, as this leads to the ending of kamma.

:heart:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

vinasp
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by vinasp » Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:24 pm

Hi everyone,

SANKHARA PASSIVE.

In its passive sense sankhara means things which are constructed. What are these things? Everything found in ordinary samsaric experience. So almost everything in the teachings, all twelve items in Dependent Origination, all of the things classed as aggregates, are sankharas - constructed.

The only thing which is not constructed (asankhata) is nibbana.

sabbe sankhara anicca - all constructed things are impermanent.
sabbe sankhara dukkha - all constructed things are painful.
sabbe dhamma anatta - all mental objects are not-self.

So my normal state-of-mind is constructed, my 'self' and my world are constructed. And these are perpetuated by being continuously re-constructed.
This is samsaric existence.

SANKHARA ACTIVE.

The volitional activities which are constructing all this are sankharas in the active sense. Our problem is that we cannot see this process. The reason for this is, that it is not just new-volition but mostly old-volition which is doing the constructing. Old habits still operating in the present keep
re-creating the same old thing over and over again.

The present state-of-mind is already a constructed thing, and full of constructed things. The volitional activities which are constructing the next state-of-mind would be classed as sankhara khandha.

"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, ..." [BB, MLDB, MN 149.3]

Regards, Vincent.

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faraway
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by faraway » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:02 pm

daverupa wrote:
The various translations of the word-play over the aggregates in SN 22.79 is worth studying in this regard (though perhaps the difference between sanna and vinnana is not well-stated there).

Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
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.
I think this is the confusing part for general people, most of people would classify the four khandha besides rupa khandha (form) as nama (mental phenomena), so when the above passage said "They construct conditioned form as form", so sankhara can construct form (?), and even sankhara can construct sankhara (?), so what is sankhara anyway? :juggling:

But if sankhara-khandha means intention as stated in Sattatthana Sutta (SN 22.57), then it fits as mental phenomena.


But still, I have a question to shed my curiosity, is there sutta that tell four khandha (vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana) besides rupa khandha are classfied as nama (mental phenomena)?

santa100
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by santa100 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:27 pm

faraway wrote:I think this is the confusing part for general people, most of people would classify the four khandha besides rupa khandha (form) as nama (mental phenomena), so when the above passage said "They construct conditioned form as form", so sankhara can construct form (?), and even sankhara can construct sankhara (?), so what is sankhara anyway?
Because sankhara is such a broad term which includes both active and passive meanings (refer to vinasp's post above and Ven. Bodhi's "Sankhara" essay.)
faraway wrote:But still, I have a question to shed my curiosity, is there sutta that tell four khandha (vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana) besides rupa khandha are classfied as nama (mental phenomena)?
From MN 9:
And what is mentality-materiality, what is the origin of mentality-materiality, what is the cessation of mentality-materiality, what is the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, and attention—these are called mentality. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements—these are called materiality."
Also notice Ven. Bodhi's note from his "In the Buddha's Words":
Though I render nama as name[or mentality], this should not be taken too literally. Nama is the assemblage of mental factors involved in cognition: feeling, perception, volition, contact, and attention (vedana, sañña, cetana, phassa, manasikara). These are probably called “name” because they contribute to the conceptual designation of objects. It should be noted that in the Nikayas, namarupa does not include consciousness (viññana). Consciousness is the condition for namarupa, just as the latter is the condition for consciousness, so that the two are mutually dependent

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daverupa
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:40 pm

faraway wrote:is there sutta that tell four khandha (vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana) besides rupa khandha are classfied as nama (mental phenomena)?
Nope, as far as I'm aware. Namarupa is 'name and form', not 'mind and body'.

One place you can find something along those lines is
SN 12.2 wrote:And what, bhikkhus, is name-and-form? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, attention: this is called name. The four great elements and the form derived from the four great elements: this is called form. Thus this name and this form are together called name-and-form.
But there's no reason to consider that namarupa needs to encompass the aggregates, especially since sankhara already happened in the dependent origination chain & vinnana isn't part of namarupa, while in addition 'contact' is based on sense spheres which follow namarupa in the chain.

---

There can be nonphysical rupa, which seems to be confusing for most people. But rupa is the four elements or form derived therefrom; this last can be a nonphysical dhamma registering as all five aggregates, without being arupa.

Imagine a unicorn. There you go. Nonphysical rupa. Or imagine the feel of a breeze - again, nonphysical rupa.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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faraway
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by faraway » Thu Jun 12, 2014 3:47 pm

santa100 wrote:
faraway wrote:But still, I have a question to shed my curiosity, is there sutta that tell four khandha (vedana, sanna, sankhara, vinnana) besides rupa khandha are classfied as nama (mental phenomena)?
From MN 9:
And what is mentality-materiality, what is the origin of mentality-materiality, what is the cessation of mentality-materiality, what is the way leading to the cessation of mentality-materiality? Feeling, perception, volition, contact, and attention—these are called mentality. The four great elements and the material form derived from the four great elements—these are called materiality."
No "sankhara" word mentioned in the pali text source as nama (unless the intention/cetana is accepted as equal or synonym to sankhara), and yes no vinnana as well.
3. Katamaṃ panāvuso nāmarūpaṃ? Katamo nāmarūpasamudayo? Katamo nāmarūpanirodho? Katamā nāmarūpanirodhagāminī paṭipadā?Ti. Vedanā, saññā, cetanā, phasso, manasikāro - idaṃ vuccatāvuso nāmaṃ.

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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by pegembara » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:25 am

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

SANKHARA PASSIVE.

In its passive sense sankhara means things which are constructed. What are these things? Everything found in ordinary samsaric experience. So almost everything in the teachings, all twelve items in Dependent Origination, all of the things classed as aggregates, are sankharas - constructed.

The only thing which is not constructed (asankhata) is nibbana.

sabbe sankhara anicca - all constructed things are impermanent.
sabbe sankhara dukkha - all constructed things are painful.
sabbe dhamma anatta - all mental objects are not-self.

So my normal state-of-mind is constructed, my 'self' and my world are constructed. And these are perpetuated by being continuously re-constructed.
This is samsaric existence.

SANKHARA ACTIVE.

The volitional activities which are constructing all this are sankharas in the active sense. Our problem is that we cannot see this process. The reason for this is, that it is not just new-volition but mostly old-volition which is doing the constructing. Old habits still operating in the present keep
re-creating the same old thing over and over again.

The present state-of-mind is already a constructed thing, and full of constructed things. The volitional activities which are constructing the next state-of-mind would be classed as sankhara khandha.

"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, ..." [BB, MLDB, MN 149.3]

Regards, Vincent.
I like the way you put it.The dhamma in sabbe dhamma anatta refers to both the conditioned/constructed and unconditioned/unconstructed/unmade ie. nibbana.
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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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:32 am

daverupa wrote:Ultimately the foregoing methods arrest sankhara, preventing papanca and facilitating dispassion and cessation and clear seeing of things as they are. No need for an act of will might be another way to discuss this.
Is this related to that well-known passage: "In the seen, only the seen...." ( Advice to Bahiya )?
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:35 am

vinasp wrote: SANKHARA PASSIVE.
SANKHARA ACTIVE.
So is the first descriptive of the the aggregates generally, and the second descriptive of the sankhara aggregate specifically?
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:40 am

daverupa wrote:The various translations of the word-play over the aggregates in SN 22.79 is worth studying in this regard (though perhaps the difference between sanna and vinnana is not well-stated there).

Here is Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation:
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.
Thanks, but I'm not sure what this means, despite looking at the other translations in Mike's thread.
How do volitional formations construct conditioned form? And how do volitional formations construct volitional formations?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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daverupa
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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:31 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
daverupa wrote:Ultimately the foregoing methods arrest sankhara, preventing papanca and facilitating dispassion and cessation and clear seeing of things as they are. No need for an act of will might be another way to discuss this.
Is this related to that well-known passage: "In the seen, only the seen...." ( Advice to Bahiya )?
Yes, I think this points up the lack of making manifold, the lack of papanca-ing, the lack of self-reference in terms of that, and so forth.
Spiny Norman wrote:How do volitional formations construct conditioned form? And how do volitional formations construct volitional formations?
I think it's pointing out that it takes an ignorant act of will - however subtle or quick - to see an entity in place of a dependent process, which facilitates wandering on.

Otherwise, I'd be inclined to think that this describes the aggregates as being old kamma without giving them an independent ontological status. The five aggregates are parsed according to acts of will, not because they exist as five 'things' that interact.

---

The conversation should always be at the level of lived experience, not standing-to-the-side objective descriptions. This is why we would say an aggregate was acting as fuel or not, rather than saying that there are two different sorts of aggregates, the fuel kind and the nonfuel kind.

...possibly, it takes one sort of sankhara to treat an aggregate as fuel, and another sort of sankhara to lead to the cessation of that treatment while the aggregates yet persist for a time, by way of a sort of sankhara that leads to the cessation of certain dark, bright, & mixed sankhara.

Even the Path, as the one useful sort of sankhara, is abandoned, as a raft should be on the far shore.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:25 am

I think the activity of the sankhara aggregate can be viewed as how we react to the the more immediate level of experience represented by the other four aggregates - this reaction includes how we think, feel and act.
If this is correct it would suggest that the activity of the sankhara aggregate is pivotal in creating self-view, and also the main "target" for our practice.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by acinteyyo » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:04 pm

vinasp wrote:Hi everyone,

SANKHARA PASSIVE.

In its passive sense sankhara means things which are constructed. What are these things? Everything found in ordinary samsaric experience. So almost everything in the teachings, all twelve items in Dependent Origination, all of the things classed as aggregates, are sankharas - constructed.

The only thing which is not constructed (asankhata) is nibbana.

sabbe sankhara anicca - all constructed things are impermanent.
sabbe sankhara dukkha - all constructed things are painful.
sabbe dhamma anatta - all mental objects are not-self.

So my normal state-of-mind is constructed, my 'self' and my world are constructed. And these are perpetuated by being continuously re-constructed.
This is samsaric existence.

SANKHARA ACTIVE.

The volitional activities which are constructing all this are sankharas in the active sense. Our problem is that we cannot see this process. The reason for this is, that it is not just new-volition but mostly old-volition which is doing the constructing. Old habits still operating in the present keep
re-creating the same old thing over and over again.

The present state-of-mind is already a constructed thing, and full of constructed things. The volitional activities which are constructing the next state-of-mind would be classed as sankhara khandha.

"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, ..." [BB, MLDB, MN 149.3]

Regards, Vincent.
:goodpost:
This might be nearer to Ven. Nanaviras position about sankhará as you think...

best wishes, acinteyyo
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

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Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by vinasp » Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:01 am

Hi everyone,

I think that we should explore the relationship between sankhara and volition and kamma. "Padmasiri de Silva points out that sankhara is often considered synonymous with the concept of volition or kamma." [Boisvert 1995, p. 96.]

We have already seen examples of sankhara described as volition. Here is a discourse, SN 35.146 which speaks of kamma.

"Bhikkhus, I will teach you new and old kamma, the cessation of kamma, and the way leading to the cessation of kamma. Listen to that and attend closely, I will speak.

And what, bhikkhus, is old kamma? The eye is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt.146

The ear is old kamma ... The mind is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt. This is old kamma.

And what, bhikkhus, is new kamma? Whatever action one does now by body, speech, or mind. This is called new kamma.

And what, bhikkhus, is the cessation of kamma? When one reaches liberation through the cessation of bodily action, verbal action, and mental action. This is called the cessation of kamma.

And what, bhikkhus, is the way leading to the cessation of kamma? It is this noble eightfold path, right view .... right concentration............"

[BB, TCDB, p. 1231, part of SN 35.146 - Kamma.]

My comments.

The 'eye' is old volition. The misconception of the eye as permanent, a source of pleasure, and related to self, is the result of past volitional thinking.
This misconception was generated by volition, as something to be known.

Or one could say that the habit of regarding the eye as permanent, as pleasure, as mine, was formed in the past by volition.

Whatever action one does now is new kamma. Note the use of 'one', all actions based on the view of self are called kamma, and (some?) produce results in samsaric existence.

Liberation removes the view of self, so there is no more kamma.

But are there still actions? It would be interesting to see the original Pali.

Regards, Vincent.

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