Spiny Norman 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.