Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

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Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:55 am

Greetings,

"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" can be translated as "all formations are suffering".

How does one come to see this truth for themselves experientially, rather than to simply accept it as a matter of faith, or as a working hypothesis?

For what purpose must it be known experientially to be true?

:meditate:

Feel free to explore this question in any way you deem might be profitable.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:17 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" can be translated as "all formations are suffering".
The interesting question: What sankhara/formations are meant here?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:26 am

Greetings Tilt,

Interesting question indeed, and there's more than a few possibilities to select from!

Firstly, from Bhikkhu Bodhi's introduction to the Samyutta Nikaya (on the reasons he translated the term as he did...)

SANKHARA

In MLDB (Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha) I had changed Ven Nanamoli's expermental rendering of sankhara as 'determinations' back to his earlier choice, 'formations'. Aware that this word has its own drawbacks, in preparing this translation I had experimented with several alternatives. Thos most attractive of these were 'constructions', but in the end I felt that this term too often led to obscurity. Hence, like the land-finding crow which always returns to the shop when land is not close by (see Vism 657; Ppn 21:65), I had to fall back on 'formations', which is colourless enough to take on the meaning being imparted by the context. Sometimes I prefixed this with the adjective 'volitional' to bring out the meaning more clearly.
Sankhara is derived from the prefix sam (=con), "together", and the verb karoti, "to make". The noun straddles both sides of the active-passive divide. Thus sankharas are both things which put together, construct, and compound other things, and the things that are put together, constructed, and compounded.
In Samyutta Nikaya (SN) the word occurs in five major doctrinal contexts:

As the second factor in the formula for depenedent origination, sankharas are the kammically active volitions responsible, in conjunction with ignorance and craving, for generating rebirth and sustaining the forward movement of samsara from one life to the next. Sankhara is synonymous with kamma, to which it is etymologically related, both being derived from karoti. These sankharas are distinguished as threefold by their channel of expression, as bodily, verbal, and mental (II 4, 8-10, etc); they are also divided by ethical quality into the meritorious, demeritorious and imperturbable (II 82, 9-13). To convey the relevent sense of sankhara I have rendered the term 'volitional formations." The word might also have been translated "activities", which makes explicit the connection with kamma, but this rendering would sever the connection with sankhara in contexts other than dependent origination, which it seems desirable to preserve.
(2) As the fourth of the five aggregates, sankhara is defined as the six classes of volitions (cha cetanakaya, III 60, 25-28), that is, volition regarding the six types of sense objects. Hence again I render it volitional formations. But the sankharakhanda has a wider compass than the sankhara of dependent origination series, comprising all instances of volition and not only those that are kammically active. In the Abhidhamma Pitaka and the commentaries, the sankharakhanda further serves as an umbrella category for classifying all mental concomittants of consciousness apart from feeling and perception. It thus includes all wholesome, unwholesome, and variable mental factors mentioned but not formally classified among the aggregates in the Sutta Pitaka
(3) In the widest sense, sankhara comprises all conditioned things, everything arisen from a combination of conditions. In this sense all five aggregates, not just the fourth, are sankharas (see III 132, 22-27), as are all external objects and situations (II 191, 11-17). The term here is taken to be of passive derivation - denoting what is conditioned, constructed, compounded - hence I render it simply as 'formations', without the qualifying adjective. The notion of sankhara serves as the cornerstone of a philosophical vision which sees the entire universe as constituted of conditioned phenomena. What is particularly emphasised about sankharas in this sense is their impermanence. Recognition of their impermanence brings insight into the unreliable nature of all mundane felicity and inspires a sense of urgency directed towards liberation from samsara (see 150:20; 22:96)
(4) A triad of sankharas is mentioned in connection with the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling: the bodily formation, the verbal formation, and the mental formation (IV 293, 7-28). The first is in-and-out breathing (because breath is bound up with the body); the second, thought and examination (because by thinking one formulates the ideas one expresses by speech); the third, perception and feeling (because these things are bound up with mind). Two of these terms - the bodily formation and the mental formation - are also included in the expanded instructions on minfulness of breathing (V 311, 21-22; 312,4-5).
(5) The expression padhanasankhara occurs in the formula for the four iddhipadas, the bases of spiritual power. The text explains it as the four right kinds of striving (V 268, 8-19). I render it 'volitional formations of striving'. Though strictly speaking, the expression signifies energy (viriya) and not volition (cetana), the qualifier shows that these formations occur in an active rather than passive mode.
Apart from these main contexts, the word sankhara occurs in several compounds – ayusankhara (II 266, 19; V 262, 22-23) jivitasankhara (V 152, 29-153,2) bhavasankhara (V 263, 2) – which can be understood as different aspects of the life force.
The past participle connected with sankhara is sankhata, which I translate as ‘conditioned’. Unfortunately I could not render the two Pali words into English in a way that preserves the vital connection between them: ‘formed’ is too specific for sankhata[i], and ‘conditions’ too wide for [i]sankhara (and it also encroaches on the domain of paccaya). If ‘constructions’ had been used for sankhara, sankhata would become ‘constructed’, which preserves the connection, though at the cost of too stilted a translation. Regrettably, owing to the use of different English words for the pair, a critically important dimension of meaning in the suttas is lost to view. In the Pali, we can clearly see the connection: the sankharas, the active constructive forces instigated by volition, create and shape conditioned reality, especially the conditioned factors classified into the five aggregates and the six internal sense bases, and this conditioned reality itself consists of sankharas in the passive sense, called in the commentaries sankhata-sankhara.
Further, it is not only this connection that is lost to view, but also the connection to Nibbana. For Nibbana is the asankhata, the unconditioned, which is called thus precisely because it is neither made up by sankharas nor itself a sankhara in either the active or passive sense. So, when the texts are taken up in the Pali we arrive at a clear picture in fine focus: the active sankharas generated by volition perpetually create passive sankharas, the sankhata dhammas or conditioned phenomena of the five aggregates (and, indirectly, of the objective world); and then, through the practice of the Buddha’s path, the practitioner arrives at the true knowledge of conditioned phenomena, which disables the generation of active sankharas, putting an end to the constructing of conditioned reality and opening the door to the Deathless, the asankhata, the unconditioned, which is Nibbana, the final liberation from impermanence and suffering.


Nyanatiloka's Buddhist Dictionary is always worth a look...
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/bu ... dic3_s.htm

saṅkhāra: This term has, according to its context, different shades of meaning, which should be carefully distinguished.

(I) To its most frequent usages (s. foll. 1-4) the general term 'formation' may be applied, with the qualifications required by the context. This term may refer either to the act of 'forming or to the passive state of 'having been formed' or to both.

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.

2. The aforementioned three terms, kāya-, vacī- and citta-s. are sometimes used in quite a different sense, namely as (1) bodily function, i.e. in-and-out-breathing (e.g. M. 10), (2) verbal function, i.e. thought-conception and discursive thinking, (3) mental-function, i.e. feeling and perception (e.g. M. 44). See nirodhasamāpatti.

3. It also denotes the 4th group of existence (saṅkhārakkhandha), and includes all 'mental formations' whether they belong to 'kammically forming' consciousness or not. See khandha, Tab. II. and S. XXII, 56, 79.

4. It occurs further in the sense of anything formed (saṅkhata, q.v.) and conditioned, and includes all things whatever in the world, all phenomena of existence. This meaning applies, e.g. to the well-known passage, "All formations are impermanent... subject to suffering" (sabbe saṅkhāra aniccā ... dukkhā). In that context, however, s. is subordinate to the still wider and all-embracing term dhamma (thing); for dhamma includes also the Unformed or Unconditioned Element (asaṅkhata-dhātu), i.e. Nibbāna (e.g. in sabbe dhammā anattā, "all things are without a self").

(II) Saṅkhāra also means sometimes 'volitional effort', e.g. in the formula of the roads to power (iddhi-pāda, q.v.); in sasaṅkhāra- and asaṅkhāra-parinibbāyī (s. Anāgāmī, q.v.); and in the Abhidhamma terms asaṅkhārika- (q.v.) and sasaṅkhārika-citta, i.e. without effort = spontaneously, and with effort = prompted.

In Western literature, in English as well as in German, saṅkhāra is sometimes mistranslated by 'subconscious tendencies' or similarly (e.g Prof Beckh: "unterbewußte Bildekräfte," i.e. subconscious formative forces). This misinterpretation derives perhaps from a similar usage in non-Buddhist Sanskrit literature, and is entirely inapplicable to the connotations of the term in Pāḷi Buddhism, as listed above under I, 1-4. For instance, within the dependent origination, s. is neither subconscious nor a mere tendency, but is a fully conscious and active karmic volition. In the context of the 5 groups of existence (s. above I, 3), a very few of the factors from the group of mental formations (saṅkhārakkhandha) are also present as concomitants of subconsciousness (s. Tab. I-III), but are of course not restricted to it, nor are they mere tendencies.


As is the PTS Dictionary...
http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :2800.pali

Sankhāra

Sankhāra [fr. saŋ+kṛ, not Vedic, but as saŋskāra Epic & Class. Sk. meaning "preparation" and "sacrament," also in philosophical literature "former impression, disposition, " cp. vāsanā] one of the most difficult terms in Buddhist metaphysics, in which the blending of the subjective -- objective view of the world and of happening, peculiar to the East, is so complete, that it is almost impossible for Occidental terminology to get at the root of its meaning in a translation. We can only convey an idea of its import by representing several sides of its application, without attempting to give a "word" as a def. trsln. -- An exhaustive discussion of the term is given by Franke in his Dīgha translation (pp. 307 sq., esp. 311 sq.); see also the analysis in Cpd. 273 -- 276. -- Lit. "preparation, get up"; appld: coefficient (of consciousness as well as of physical life, cp. viññāṇa), constituent, constituent potentiality; (pl.) synergies, cause -- combination, as in S iii.87; discussed, B. Psy., p. 50 sq. (cp. DhsA 156, where paraphrased in defn of sa -- sankhāra with "ussāha, payoga, upāya, paccaya -- gahaṇa"); composition, aggregate. 1. Aggregate of the conditions or essential properties for a given process or result -- e. g. (i.) the sum of the conditions or properties making up or resulting in life or existence; the essentials or "element" of anything ( -- ˚), e. g. āyusaṅkhāra, life -- element D ii.106; S ii.266; PvA 210; bhavasankhāra, jīvitasaṅkhāra, D ii.99, 107. (ii.) Essential conditions, antecedents or synergy (co -- ordinated activity), mental coefficients, requisite for act, speech, thought: kāya˚, vacī˚, citta˚, or mano˚, described respectively as "respiration," "attention and consideration," "percepts and feelings," "because these are (respectively) bound up with," or "precede" those M i.301 (cp. 56); S iv.293; Kvu 395 (cp. trsln 227); Vism 530 sq.; DhsA 8; VbhA 142 sq. -- 2. One of the five khandhas, or constitutional elements of physical life (see khandha), comprising all the citta -- sampayutta -- cetasikā dhammā -- i. e. the mental concomitants, or adjuncts which come, or tend to come, into consciousness at the uprising of a citta, or unit of cognition Dhs 1 (cp. M iii.25). As thus classified, the saṅkhāra's form the mental factor corresponding to the bodily aggregate or rūpakkhandha, and are in contrast to the three khandhas which represent a single mental function only. But just as kāya stands for both body and action, so do the concrete mental syntheses called sankhārā tend to take on the implication of synergies, of purposive intellection, connoted by the term abhisaṅkhāra, q. v. -- e. g. M iii.99, where saṅkhārā are a purposive, aspiring state of mind to induce a specific rebirth; S ii.82, where puññaŋ, opuññaŋ, āṇeñjaŋ s. abhisankharoti, is, in D iii.217 & Vbh 135, catalogued as the three classes of abhisankhāra; S ii.39, 360; A ii.157, where s. is tantamount to sañcetanā; Miln 61, where s., as khandha, is replaced by cetanā (purposive conception). Thus, too, the ss. in the Paṭiccasamuppāda formula are considered as the aggregate of mental conditions which, under the law of kamma, bring about the inception of the paṭisandhiviññāṇa, or first stirring of mental life in a newly begun individual. Lists of the psychologically, or logically distinguishable factors making up the composite saṅkhārakkhandha, with constants and variants, are given for each class of citta in Dhs 62, etc. (N.B. -- Read cetanā for vedanā, § 338.) Phassa and cetanā are the two constant factors in the s -- kkhandha. These lists may be compared with the later elaboration of the saṅkhāra -- elements given at Vism 462 sq. -- 3. sankhārā (pl.) in popular meaning. In the famous formula (and in many other connections, as e. g. sabbe sankhārā) "aniccā vata sankhārā uppādavaya -- dhammino" (D ii.157; S i.6, 158, 200; ii.193; Th 1, 1159; J i.392, cp. Vism 527), which is rendered by Mrs. Rh. D. (Brethren, p 385 e. g.) as "O, transient are our life's experiences! Their nature 'tis to rise and pass away," we have the use of s. in quite a general & popular sense of "life, physical or material life"; and sabbe sankhārā means "everything, all physical and visible life, all creation." Taken with caution the term "creation" may be applied as t.t. in the Paṭiccasamuppāda, when we regard avijjā as creating, i. e. producing by spontaneous causality the sankhāras, and sankhārā as "natura genita atque genitura" (the latter with ref. to the foll. viññāṇa). If we render it by "formations" (cp. Oldenberg's "Gestaltungen," Buddha 71920, p. 254), we imply the mental "constitutional" element as well as the physical, although the latter in customary materialistic popular philosophy is the predominant factor (cp. the discrepancies of "life eternal" and "life is extinct" in one & the same European term). None of the "links" in the Paṭicca -- samuppāda meant to the people that which it meant or was supposed to mean in the subtle and schematic philosophy (dhammā duddasā nipuṇā!) of the dogmatists. -- Thus sankhārā are in the widest sense the "world of phenomena" (cp. below ˚loka), all things which have been made up by pre -- existing causes. -- At PvA 71 we find sankhārā in lit. meaning as "things" (preparations) in defn of ye keci (bhogā) "whatever." The sabbe s. at S ii.178 (trsln "all the things of this world") denote all 5 aggregates exhausting all conditioned things; cp. Kvu 226 (trsln "things"); Mhvs iv.66 (: the material and transitory world); Dh 154 (vi -- sankhāragataŋ cittaŋ=mind divested of all material things); DhsA 304 (trsln "kamma activities," in connection avijjā -- paccaya -- s˚); Cpd. 211, n. 3. -- The defn of sankhārā at Vism 526 (as result of avijjā & cause of viññāṇa in the P. -- S.) is: sankhataŋ abhisankharontī ti sankhārā. Api ca: avijjā -- paccayā sankhārā sankhāra -- saddena āgata -- sankhārā ti duvidhā sankhārā; etc. with further def. of the 4 sankhāras. <-> 4. Var. passages for sankhāra in general: D ii. 213; iii.221 sq., M ii.223 (imassa dukkha -- nidānassa sankhāraŋ padahato sankhāra -- ppadhānā virāgo hoti); S iii.69 (ekanta -- dukkhā sankhārā); iv.216 sq. (sankhārāṇaŋ khaya -- dhammatā; id. with vaya˚, virāga˚, nirodha˚ etc.); Sn 731 (yaŋ kiñci dukkhaŋ sambhoti sabbaŋ sankhāra -- paccayā; sankhārānaŋ nirodhena n'atthi dukkhassa sambhavo); Vism 453, 462 sq. (the 51), 529 sq.; DhA iii.264, 379; VbhA 134 (4 fold), 149 (3 fold), 192 (āyūhanā); PvA 41 (bhijjana -- dhammā). <-> Of passages dealing with the sankhāras as aniccā, vayadhammā, anattā, dukkhā etc. the foll. may be mentioned: Vin i.13; S i.200; iii.24; iv.216, 259; v.56, 345; M iii.64, 108; A i.286; ii.150 sq.; iii.83, 143; iv.13, 100; It 38; Dh 277, 383; Ps i.37, 132; ii.48; 109 sq.; Nd2 444, 450; also Nd2 p. 259 (s. v. sankhārā).
-- upekkhā equanimity among "things" Vism 161, 162. -- ûpasama allayment of the constituents of life Dh 368, 381; cp. DhA iv.108. -- khandha the aggregate of (mental) coefficients D iii.233; Kvu 578; Tikp 61; DhsA 345; VbhA 20, 42. -- dukkha the evil of material life, constitutional or inherent ill VbhA 93 (in the classification of the sevenfold sukkha). -- paccayā (viññāṇaŋ) conditioned by the synergies (is vital consciousness), the second linkage in the Paṭicca -- samuppāda (q. v.) Vism 577; VbhA 152 sq. -- padhāna concentration on the sankhāras M ii.223. -- majjhattatā=˚upekkhā VbhA 283. -- loka the material world, the world of formation (or phenomena), creation, loka "per se," as contrasted to satta -- loka, the world of (morally responsible) beings, loka "per hominem" Vism 205; VbhA 456; SnA 442.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:28 am

Its good to see that transcription effort getting such great usage!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Reductor » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:29 am

How is sankhara stressful, and how does one see that?

If you define it as 'what has come to be or is coming to be', like the body, or feelings, then you might say that stress comes when they change against our will. But this is obvious, for who hasn't noticed this fact already? Feeling good while eating a decedent meal gives way to indigestion, orgasm gives way to neutrality. Happy gives way to sad. Easy to see, if you choose one series of events to pay attention to, eg contemplation of food while you're eating, the act of having sex, getting up in the morning, showers (who doesn't hate when the hot water runs out? :smile: )

But if you consider the other side of sankhara, the volition, then the answer is more subtle, and does require mental stillness. For when the mind is much quieter than normal life, then each time the mind changes the object its focusing on you can see that this change of focus was volitional. This change of focus, when it happens in a state otherwise still, is jarring. Even very, very, very slight changes of focus are jarring, because they are based on a comparison of one state of being to another. 'not still enough!' so attention is directed more closely to the breath. 'not alert enough' 'where is the space' 'where is nibbana'. Each time there is a desire for something to 'be', then there is a change of focus, and what 'was' is now lost and often lamented, or what is gained is good, but just doesn't seem good enough, not for long.

In the end there is a realization that to compare the current state to a possible future state will result in shifting attention, which is bothersome. Comparing the current state to a past one is the same. Becoming attached to the current state and not hankering over the past or future state is better, but still not good enough. Even if you stop hankering over past things and future things, you realize that the current stillness and peace is also being willed, and with one perception of 'not quite', the mind will change places again, and what is lost will be longed for, what gained will not be satisfactory.

... Boy, that was long winded. Ha.

As you might gather, I do feel that the most subtle manifestations of sankhara and the dukkha arising therefrom are not easily knowable without jhana. So, I would suggest to anyone, anywhere, no matter what their life is like, that they give some thought to developing jhana. In regular mental states the changing of attention is so fast and all pervasive that it is not really noticed in and of itself - because there is no 'stillness' to contrast it to.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:34 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,

Interesting question indeed, and there's more than a few possibilities to select from!
I know, which is why I asked. In "Sabbe sankhara dukkha" is often take to refer to anything whatsoever, which is why we get "rocks are dukkha," which is not quite correct.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:47 am

Greetings thereductor,

Nice post.

... Boy, that was long winded. Ha.


Would it be fair to summarise your post as the following (or does this misrepresent your point, or exclude pertinent information)...?

Through the (relative) tranquilizing, or thinning out of formations, their 'jarring' and 'volitional' nature can be observed, and this leads to dispassion towards them.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:59 am

Hi retro, all,
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,
"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" can be translated as "all formations are suffering".
How does one come to see this truth for themselves experientially, rather than to simply accept it as a matter of faith, or as a working hypothesis?

I think one can only see this truth in relation to sabbe sankhārā aniccā and sabbe dhammā anattā. One has to see that things are conditioned and depend on other things which are also conditioned and that they're impermanent, because a thing can only be pleasant when it is "my permanent thing". To see its impermanence truly presents at the same time its unpleasantness and its emptiness of self. In my opinion to see the truth of one of the three characteristics means to see all three characteristics.
One has to develop insight in the nature of things to a level where these truths are seen directly. Not by mental concepts constantly explaining one's own supposition to oneself.
The only way I can think of which would enable someone to see it experientially is citta-bhāvanā.
I use the aspect of aniccā. With samādhi there is detachment of a certain degree which blanks the "my" of "my permanent thing" leaving only "permanent thing". Investigating this "permanent thing" unearths the truths. One discerns its dependence which removes the assumed independend entity of the "thing". What remains is just "permanent conditioned correlation". Now it becomes clear that "permanent" is a discrepancy within that phenomenon. How could there be "permanence"? This is the point where one truly sees the changing, impermanent nature of phenomena and simultaneously sees the unpleasantness of all conditioned phenomena.
MN147 wrote:"And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: 'This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am'?" - "No, Lord"

retrofuturist wrote:For what purpose must it be known experientially to be true?

Is there anything which can be considered as true before one has experienced it by oneself?

This was my attempt,
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:04 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" can be translated as "all formations are suffering".
The interesting question: What sankhara/formations are meant here?

I don't know why it should be an interesting question. It says all formations (sabbe). Which ones aren't included in "all"?
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Tilt,
Interesting question indeed, and there's more than a few possibilities to select from!
I know, which is why I asked. In "Sabbe sankhara dukkha" is often take to refer to anything whatsoever, which is why we get "rocks are dukkha," which is not quite correct.

You act on the assumption of an independent "rock" in and of itself?
best wishes, acinteyyo
Last edited by acinteyyo on Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:05 am

acinteyyo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

"Sabbe sankhara dukkha" can be translated as "all formations are suffering".
The interesting question: What sankhara/formations are meant here?

I don't know why it should be an interesting question. It says all formations (sabbe). Which ones aren't included in "all"?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Oaky, then what is included in all? Is a rock suffering?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Reductor » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:08 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings thereductor,

Nice post.

... Boy, that was long winded. Ha.


Would it be fair to summarise your post as the following (or does this misrepresent your point, or exclude pertinent information)...?

Through the (relative) tranquilizing, or thinning out of formations, their 'jarring' and 'volitional' nature can be observed, and this leads to dispassion towards them.

Metta,
Retro. :)


Yes, that is fair enough.

The other important thing to be seen is how volition works, because volition is a fantastically minute event, based on perception/feeling. There is really no clear distinction there, as there is no clear distinction between perception, feeling and consciousness. When a volition occurs, it is drawing on all past experiences, which are responsible for the perceptions that have arisen. A perception of something which is different to the current arises, and from this contrast there is a choice made. It is here change happens, and the stress of this moment is seen; and also seen is how this small stress is dependent (inextricably tied) to all previous existence. It is born from it.

To become truly dispassionate for this one formation is like becoming dispassionate for all existence up to that point, and all existence following from it; the formations following from there seem to stop. I suspect that this gentle seeing and stopping results in complete cessation if it is carried long enough. (here's to hoping! *fingers crossed*)
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:11 am

tiltbillings wrote:Oaky, then what is included in all? Is a rock suffering?

Sorry, I was to slow in my post above.
Okay, is there a rock in and of itself?
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:19 am

Greetings Acinteyyo,

acinteyyo wrote:I think one can only see this truth in relation to sabbe sankhārā aniccā and sabbe dhammā anattā. One has to see that things are conditioned and depend on other things which are also conditioned and that they're impermanent, because a thing can only be pleasant when it is "my permanent thing".

Is that necessarily so, though? I watched the Astro Boy movie several months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, though not once did I consider it "my permanent thing". I don't even think I'll buy the DVD.

acinteyyo wrote:To see its impermanence truly presents at the same time its unpleasantness and its emptiness of self.


How so? With reference to the example of the Astro Boy movie, I don't see how your conclusion necessarily follows.

Is there anything which can be considered as true before one has experienced it by oneself?


Good question.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:40 am

By "sankhara", is it not meant the mental act of reifying, of "making" formations?

The reason I ask is that one position is that there are no formations really. That delusion makes formations. And as anything else that is delusory, they are inherently dukkha.

If so, then a rock false identity is a formation, and that is inherently stressful, this "making of formations." But when the "housebuilder" has been seen and all his works recognized as delusory formations, then there is no more dukkha.

?
_/|\_

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:46 am

Greetings,

To what extent is a rock, part of the world?

SN 35.82: Loka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"The ear disintegrates. Sounds disintegrate...

"The nose disintegrates. Aromas disintegrate...

"The tongue disintegrates. Tastes disintegrate...

"The body disintegrates. Tactile sensations disintegrate...

"The intellect disintegrates. Ideas disintegrate. Consciousness at the intellect consciousness disintegrates. Contact at the intellect disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"Insofar as it disintegrates, it is called the 'world.'"


As I understand it "rock" isn't part of the world of our experience, other than via contact with the six senses.

Rock, in and of itself, independent of our experience of it, is (in my opinion) not what the Buddha was concerned with. Even the "formation" of a rock from lava or whatever isn't relevant because "with the cessation of ignorant comes the cessation of sankharas". Why would an objective rock cease, simply because we stop being ignorant? It wouldn't.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:56 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Acinteyyo,
acinteyyo wrote:I think one can only see this truth in relation to sabbe sankhārā aniccā and sabbe dhammā anattā. One has to see that things are conditioned and depend on other things which are also conditioned and that they're impermanent, because a thing can only be pleasant when it is "my permanent thing".

Is that necessarily so, though? I watched the Astro Boy movie several months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, though not once did I consider it "my permanent thing". I don't even think I'll buy the DVD.
We have to be careful to not mix up conventional language and absolute truths. You enjoyed it, okay. What was it what you have been enjoying. Your feelings which arose in dependence to the movie? If you didn't consider them as "my permanent feeling" how could you enjoy it? If there would have just been some pleasant feelings in dependence to the movie, this would be all, wouldn't it? But what you say is "I watched the Astro Bay movie ... and thoroughly enjoyed it." Wasn't there something which made an "I" and is now saying "I enjoyed my feelings" thinking those "feelings" were permanent at least for the time "I" experienced them? But is truth like this?
retrofuturist wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:To see its impermanence truly presents at the same time its unpleasantness and its emptiness of self.

How so? With reference to the example of the Astro Boy movie, I don't see how your conclusion necessarily follows.

I often notice that people tend to seek impermanence outside of themselves. If we take my assumption above (you enjoyed your feelings) for granted, you should see how the conclusion follows necessarily. The feelings were in fact impermanent conditioned correlations identified or tagged as "pleasant feelings". Since they depend on impermanent causes, they are impermanent too. What is impermanent must be unpleasant, because it contains its ending in itself. Doesn't matter how long or short it may be pleasant in the end it must vanish, but usually one still grasps and this is what gives rise to suffering when the pleasant feelings vanish. Out of that there is the becoming of craving for having this pleasant feelings again. And here we go again... you know what I'm trying to say?
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:03 am

acinteyyo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Oaky, then what is included in all? Is a rock suffering?

Sorry, I was to slow in my post above.
Okay, is there a rock in and of itself?


Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

To what extent is a rock, part of the world?

SN 35.82: Loka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Then a certain monk went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, he said to the Blessed One: "'The world, the world' it is said. In what respect does the word 'world' apply?

"Insofar as it disintegrates, monk, it is called the 'world.' Now what disintegrates? The eye disintegrates. Forms disintegrate. Consciousness at the eye disintegrates. Contact at the eye disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the eye — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"The ear disintegrates. Sounds disintegrate...

"The nose disintegrates. Aromas disintegrate...

"The tongue disintegrates. Tastes disintegrate...

"The body disintegrates. Tactile sensations disintegrate...

"The intellect disintegrates. Ideas disintegrate. Consciousness at the intellect consciousness disintegrates. Contact at the intellect disintegrates. And whatever there is that arises in dependence on contact at the intellect — experienced as pleasure, pain or neither-pleasure-nor-pain — that too disintegrates.

"Insofar as it disintegrates, it is called the 'world.'"


As I understand it "rock" isn't part of the world of our experience, other than via contact with the six senses.

Rock, in and of itself, independent of our experience of it, is (in my opinion) not what the Buddha was concerned with. Even the "formation" of a rock from lava or whatever isn't relevant because "with the cessation of ignorant comes the cessation of sankharas". Why would an objective rock cease, simply because we stop being ignorant? It wouldn't.

You think an object of the world is the "formation" of a rock? Sure that wasn't what the Buddha was concerned with. "With the cessation of ignorance comes the cessation of formations..." doesn't mean that the worldly "formation of a rock" ceases and with it the "rock", it means that the formations cease which makes a "rock" out of the "things of the world". There is no objective rock. This is nothing but a supposition. The world of the puthujjana is nothing but the five aggregates of grasping. It is cetanā among others which makes a "worldly thing" becoming a "rock" and not lava or whatever. Hope I didn't misunderstand you ;)
best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:16 am

Greetings,

I don't think observing impermanence of dhammas is enough to know that they are suffering. The hedonist knows all to well the impermanence of sensuous pleasures, but it doesn't stop their relentless quest to pursue them... the hedonist sees them as sukha, not dukkha.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Sabbe sankhara dukkha - how to observe this Dhamma?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Apr 26, 2010 8:20 am

tiltbillings wrote:
acinteyyo wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Oaky, then what is included in all? Is a rock suffering?

Sorry, I was to slow in my post above.
Okay, is there a rock in and of itself?


Recall that from the perspective of the Buddha’s teachings in the Pali, the ‘All’ {SN IV 15} is composed entirely of phassa, contact between sense base and sense object. We can only directly know phenomena within this ‘world of experience’, so from the Theravadin perspective, we cannot know whether there really exists a ‘brain’ or a ‘body’ apart from moments of intellectual consciousness, of seeing (the image of a brain), and so on. The discourses of the Pali describe an individual world of experience as composed of various mental and physical factors, nama and rupa. These two are not the separate, independent worlds that Rene Descartes envisioned.

"…the Buddha spoke of the human person as a psychophysical personality (namarupa). Yet the psychic and the physical were never discussed in isolation, nor were they viewed as self-subsistent entities. For him, there was neither a ‘material-stuff’ nor a ‘mental-stuff’, because both are results of reductive analyses that go beyond experience."53

The physical and mental aspects of human experience are continually arising together, intimately dependent on one another.

53 Kalupahana 1976: 73, refers to D.15{II,62}, where the Buddha speaks of both
physicality and mentality mutually dependent forms of contact (phassa).
Physicality is described as contact with resistance (pat.ighasamphassa),
mentality as contact with concepts (adhivacanasamphassa).


STRONG ROOTS by Jake Davis, page 190-1. http://www.dharma.org/bcbs/Pages/docume ... gRoots.pdf

So when you say "rocks are dukkha" is not quite correct, about what kind of rocks are you talking about? If you are talking about "rocks" according to your definiton above then the sentence "rocks are dukkha" is correct, because it is an experience (real or imagination, doesn't matter), which is a sankhara, impermanent, unpleasant and not-self. If you're talking about a "rock" outside of experience, then I don't know what you're talking about.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

:anjali:


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