Sankhara aggregate

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
vinasp
Posts: 1675
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:49 pm
Location: Bristol. United Kingdom.

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by vinasp » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:13 am

Hi everyone,

1. We know that sankhara (fabricator) is sometimes explained as volition.

2. We know that the volition through which one performs actions is called kamma.

3. Therefore sankhara (fabricator) is volition through which one performs actions which produce a result.

4. So sankhara, volition, and kamma are all the same thing?

5. But there is a distinction between new and old kamma - actions, volitions, sankharas, fabricators.

Please correct me if you think any of this is wrong.

Regards, Vincent.

Dinsdale
Posts: 6075
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 21, 2014 8:33 am

vinasp wrote: 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.
I'm not sure I understand this. It seems to imply that an Arahant doesn't "do" bodily, verbal or mental action, which would presumably mean no volition and no activity in the sankhara aggregate?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
acinteyyo
Posts: 1691
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Bavaria / Germany

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by acinteyyo » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:17 am

vinasp wrote:So sankhara, volition, and kamma are all the same thing?
I think that we should not understand "sankhará" as actual things but rather as a classification.
For example: We could say that cats, dogs, mice and rabbits (among other animals) are animals but it wouldn't be quite right to say animals are cats. (Cats are a part of the group called "animals" but the group "animals" isn't just cats.)
The same problem arises if one says sankhará are kamma and volition. Which is not quite right. It would be better to say kamma and volition are sankhata (fabricated) and sankhará (fabrications) thus avoiding the former inappropriate phrasing which probably leads to confusion.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

LXNDR
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 5:15 am

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by LXNDR » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:23 am

vinasp wrote: 4. So sankhara, volition, and kamma are all the same thing?
maybe different functions of the same thing

Bhumija sutta (SN 12.25) seems to support this view

Dinsdale
Posts: 6075
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:29 am

acinteyyo wrote:It would be better to say kamma and volition are sankhata (fabricated) and sankhará (fabrications) thus avoiding the former inappropriate phrasing which probably leads to confusion.
I'm still not clear on the distinction between sankhata and sankhara. Are sankhata the resultant formations, a subset of the sankharas which includes both causal and resultant formations? And how do these 2 categories relate to the sankhara aggregate?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Sat Jun 21, 2014 11:49 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
vinasp wrote: 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.
I'm not sure I understand this. It seems to imply that an Arahant doesn't "do" bodily, verbal or mental action, which would presumably mean no volition and no activity in the sankhara aggregate?
The arahant can perform acts aligned with the Path because these acts are not conducive to brightness or darkness, and thus continuation. When the body keels over, then there's kamma-cessation wholly.
Spiny Norman wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:It would be better to say kamma and volition are sankhata (fabricated) and sankhará (fabrications) thus avoiding the former inappropriate phrasing which probably leads to confusion.
I'm still not clear on the distinction between sankhata and sankhara. Are sankhata the resultant formations, a subset of the sankharas which includes both causal and resultant formations? And how do these 2 categories relate to the sankhara aggregate?
Think of a line graph going along for a distance.

Sankhara as an aggregate is a snapshot of some span of this line. The other ways to conjugate the term are describing the line has having either increasing or decreasing slope, as it were, and so forth. So the word is surrounding this velocity of intent, and each time it's used it has to frame up part of this line image depending on the sentence, context and so forth.

So each aggregate can be though of as an old sankhara, each aggregate is delineated as a sankhara-act and is thus a sankhara-thing as such, though not a thing-thing objectively, and so on.

The word is loose on this matter, not stuck in numbered boxes, because intention is such a central concern of the Dhamma - there is a word to catch it wherever it matters.
  • "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]

chownah
Posts: 7575
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by chownah » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:00 pm

daverupa,
You wrote, "The arahant can perform acts aligned with the Path because these acts are not conducive to brightness or darkness, and thus continuation". I am reasonably sure that it was not your intention but it does seem as if your arahant has forgotten to discard the raft. Seems to me that an arahant could perform whatever act because they are no longer bound by the path because of their mastery of intention.......I guess......don't know for sure........
chownah
P.S. Maybe with arahants there arises action but no acts......I guess......don't know for sure.......
chownah

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:21 pm

My reference is, for example, in teaching. Whether the audience attends or not, the teaching is done as a sankhara, but this is not something conducive to further becoming, aligned with the Path as it is. I'm sorry for the obtuse meaning.

The Buddha rested his back, went on alms-round, etc.
SN 22.122 wrote:"Then which things should an arahant attend to in an appropriate way?"

"An arahant should attend in an appropriate way to these five clinging-aggregates as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a dissolution, an emptiness, not-self. Although, for an arahant, there is nothing further to do, and nothing to add to what has been done, still these things — when developed & pursued — lead both to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now and to mindfulness & alertness."
  • "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]

User avatar
acinteyyo
Posts: 1691
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Bavaria / Germany

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by acinteyyo » Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:33 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:It would be better to say kamma and volition are sankhata (fabricated) and sankhará (fabrications) thus avoiding the former inappropriate phrasing which probably leads to confusion.
I'm still not clear on the distinction between sankhata and sankhara. Are sankhata the resultant formations, a subset of the sankharas which includes both causal and resultant formations? And how do these 2 categories relate to the sankhara aggregate?
Devarupas simile is a good way to describe it.
However let me simply rephrase it. I hope if I put it this way, it'll be more accessible for you.
"It would be better to say kamma and volition are fabricated/constructed/determined and they are fabrications or fabricators (Ven. Nanavira used the word "determinations") because they fabricate/determine other phenomena as well."

"sankhata" is an adjective meaning something like "fabricated", "constructed", "determined" or "conditioned". I've also heard "conconcted".
"sankhara" is a noun meaning something like "fabrication", "construction", "determination" or "condition".
These 2 terms relate to the sankhara aggregate in so far as they denominate phenomena which can be aggregated or grouped under a common designation (namely sankhara). Particularly those phenomena which determine other phenomena as well as phenomena which depend on other phenomena or both, e.g. kamma or volition.

Does this make it any clearer?
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.

Dinsdale
Posts: 6075
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:06 pm

acinteyyo wrote:It would be better to say kamma and volition are fabricated/constructed/determined and they are fabrications or fabricators (Ven. Nanavira used the word "determinations") because they fabricate/determine other phenomena as well."
"sankhata" is an adjective meaning something like "fabricated", "constructed", "determined" or "conditioned". I've also heard "conconcted".
"sankhara" is a noun meaning something like "fabrication", "construction", "determination" or "condition".
Thanks. From a practical point of view I can see that if I make a decision to act in a particular way, then that action will have consequences arising conditionally - but also that the decision itself has arisen conditional on other factors. So in this case the decision is both a fabrication and a fabricator, or you could say both a result and a cause.

On the adjective/noun distinction, are you saying that sankhara = sankhata dhamma?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

Dinsdale
Posts: 6075
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Andromeda looks nice

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:11 pm

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
vinasp wrote: 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.
I'm not sure I understand this. It seems to imply that an Arahant doesn't "do" bodily, verbal or mental action, which would presumably mean no volition and no activity in the sankhara aggregate?
The arahant can perform acts aligned with the Path because these acts are not conducive to brightness or darkness, and thus continuation. When the body keels over, then there's kamma-cessation wholly.
So are you saying that until the body keels over there is still some kind of kamma "generated" by an Arahant?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:04 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:So are you saying that until the body keels over there is still some kind of kamma "generated" by an Arahant?
AN 3.33 wrote:"Now, these three are [further] causes for the origination of actions. Which three? Non-greed is a cause for the origination of actions. Non-aversion is a cause for the origination of actions. Non-delusion is a cause for the origination of actions.

"Any action performed with non-greed — born of non-greed, caused by non-greed, originating from non-greed: When greed is gone, that action is thus abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Any action performed with non-aversion — born of non-aversion, caused by non-aversion, originating from non-aversion: When aversion is gone, that action is thus abandoned, destroyed at the root, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.

"Any action performed with non-delusion — born of non-delusion, caused by non-delusion, originating from non-delusion: When delusion is gone, that action is thus abandoned, its root destroyed, made like a palmyra stump, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.
  • "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]

User avatar
TheNoBSBuddhist
Posts: 1614
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:06 pm
Location: Loch Lomond, via the High AND Low road....

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:17 pm

Stumped.

is that a yes, or no?

I can't discern whether that answers Spiny Norman's question or not.... :rolleye:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



Image

Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....

User avatar
daverupa
Posts: 5980
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:58 pm

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by daverupa » Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:55 pm

It's a clarificatory span of data encompassing more than those two simple choices, largely because the use of the word 'kamma' in the question touches on a broad semantic realm that has English scrambling for words with slightly different connotative realms in order to encompass the query with accuracy.

So, using that quote, I'll say that arahants, while the aggregates have yet to finally dissociate, engage with hollow/rootless action which is aligned with the Path and which is nonproductive due to nibbana.

The primary example here is teaching.
  • "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]

User avatar
acinteyyo
Posts: 1691
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:48 am
Location: Bavaria / Germany

Re: Sankhara aggregate

Post by acinteyyo » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:09 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:On the adjective/noun distinction, are you saying that sankhara = sankhata dhamma?
I think you could say so.
Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Johnnymac, Pondera, Yahoo [Bot] and 88 guests