Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

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Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:11 am

Saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ

My question:
How do sankhara fabricate vinnana?
How do vinnana arise with the arising of sankhara?

---
For this discussion, the meanings of sankhara and vinnana are to be understood as available in the Pali Nikayas. For example:
Sankhara:
"And why do you call them 'fabrications'? Because they fabricate fabricated things, thus they are called 'fabrications.' What do they fabricate as a fabricated thing? For the sake of form-ness, they fabricate form as a fabricated thing. For the sake of feeling-ness, they fabricate feeling as a fabricated thing. For the sake of perception-hood... For the sake of fabrication-hood... For the sake of consciousness-hood, they fabricate consciousness as a fabricated thing. Because they fabricate fabricated things, they are called fabrications.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"There are these three fabrications: bodily fabrication, verbal fabrication, mental fabrication. These are called fabrication.

"From the origination of ignorance comes the origination of fabrication. From the cessation of ignorance comes the cessation of fabrication. And the way of practice leading to the cessation of fabrication is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Vinnana:
"There are these six classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, intellect-consciousness. This is called consciousness.

"From the origination of fabrication comes the origination of consciousness. From the cessation of fabrication comes the cessation of consciousness. And the way of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:48 am

Very simply put it, you raise your question due to your previous fabrications! :)
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:13 am

SarathW wrote:Very simply put it, you raise your question due to your previous fabrications! :)

How?
(My question specifically is: how do consciousness arise with the arising of fabrications?)
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:19 am

Buy reading a Buddhist book you conditioned your mind to think that there is something called “Sankhara”
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:22 am

I understand that something can condition other things. But the question is: how do vinnana (six consciousness) arise due to sankhara (bodily, verbal, and mental (past volitional?) fabrications)? How does that process (of fabrications conditioning/causing consciousness) work?
Last edited by SamKR on Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:27 am

There are no two things called Vinnanam and Sankhara.
They both the same. They arise in tandem. They condition each other.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:33 am

SarathW wrote:There are no two things called Vinnanam and Sankhara.
They both the same.

No, they are not the same - as can be seen in their definitions.
SarathW wrote:They arise in tandem. They condition each other

This is true, I think, but does not answer my question.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SarathW » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:37 am

When you eliminate ignorance you see everything as one! :)
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:39 am

SarathW wrote:When you eliminate ignorance you see everything as one! :)

I don't understand what you mean by "see everything as one". Could you explain more?
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby chownah » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:46 am

SamKR,
Is this what you are looking for? It is from MN28:

Dependent Co-arising
"Now if internally the eye is intact but externally forms do not come into range, nor is there a corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. If internally the eye is intact and externally forms come into range, but there is no corresponding engagement, then there is no appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness. But when internally the eye is intact and externally forms come into range, and there is a corresponding engagement, then there is the appearing of the corresponding type of consciousness.

"The form of what has thus come into being is gathered under the form clinging-aggregate. The feeling of what has thus come into being is gathered under the feeling clinging-aggregate. The perception of what has thus come into being is gathered under the perception clinging-aggregate. The fabrications of what has thus come into being are gathered under the fabrication clinging-aggregate. The consciousness of what has thus come into being is gathered under the consciousness clinging-aggregate. One discerns, 'This, it seems, is how there is the gathering, meeting, & convergence of these five clinging-aggregates. Now, the Blessed One has said, "Whoever sees dependent co-arising sees the Dhamma; whoever sees the Dhamma sees dependent co-arising."[4] And these things — the five clinging-aggregates — are dependently co-arisen.[5] Any desire, embracing, grasping, & holding-on to these five clinging-aggregates is the origination of stress. Any subduing of desire & passion, any abandoning of desire & passion for these five clinging-aggregates is the cessation of stress.' [6] And even to this extent, friends, the monk has accomplished a great deal......
........
........"

It continues on.....

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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:00 am

Thanks, chownah, but that does not seem to answer my question. I understand that due to "eye" and "forms" there appears eye-consciousness as described in your quote, but how does that eye-consciousness co-arise with "eye" and "forms"? I think such eye-consciousness may appear depending upon something else too, and that "something else" is sankhara. Then the quesiton is how does sankhara (bodily, verbal, mental) give rise to eye-consciousness? Perhaps, sankhara fashions the "eye", "range" and "corresponding engagement" thus fashioning consciousness.

I don't find any suttas that directly answer my questions (if there are, it would be great). That is why I posted my question in Open Dhamma forum so that I may get other members' personal opinions and understandings/insights as well
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby chownah » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:09 am

You are right, I didn't answer your question......somehow I got off track...sorry for that. It's a good question you are asking and I'll be thinking about it while I go make sure the water level in the rice paddy is where I want it and I'll be checking back later to see how the discussion is proceeding.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:55 am

SamKR wrote:
Saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ

My question:
How do sankhara fabricate vinnana?
It depends upon what is meant by "fabricate." Ven Bodhi's "conditions" is far less problematic.
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: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby reflection » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:36 am

Based on my understanding, a few things that may give some insight:


Like other terms, the terms sankhara and vinnana are used quite widely in the suttas. They both have varying meanings depending on context. For example in some places we see vinnana as a synonym for mind. Now, in the first of the quotes you gave, the Buddha is speaking about the 5 aggregates and in the two others he is speaking about dependent origination, so since he is using the terms in different contexts, he does not necessarily mean the same thing.

Let me start with explaining my understanding of the dependent origination link, because this one is by far the most common in the suttas, so the most important to understand. First, dependent origination is about conditionality, but not necessarily instant conditionality. For example birth is a condition for death, but they don't happen at the same time. Then second, dependent origination sankhara is not all sankhara. It says ignorance leads to sankhara, so the sankhara being spoken about are those based on ignorance, which are not all sankhara. It speaks of those leading to birth, like we see here for example:
"Any brahmans or contemplatives who do not know, as it actually is present, that 'This is stress'; who do not know, as it actually is present, that 'This is the origination of stress'... 'This is the cessation of stress'... 'This is the path of practice leading to the cessation of stress': They revel in (thought-) fabrications leading to birth; they revel in fabrications leading to aging; they revel in fabrications leading to death; they revel in fabrications leading to sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

and here the opposite, when ignorance ceases those fabrications won't arise anymore:
He neither fabricates nor wills for the sake of becoming or un-becoming. This being the case, he is not sustained by anything in the world (does not cling to anything in the world). Unsustained, he is not agitated. Unagitated, he is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/stud ... izing.html


So sankhara here is sankhara that are based on ignorance, the unskillful kamma leading to birth of consciousness, birth of name and form, those are the sankhara in DO. Here we see this process of consciousness in DO being about birth:
"'From consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form.' Thus it has been said. And this is the way to understand how from consciousness as a requisite condition comes name-and-form. If consciousness were not to descend into the mother's womb, would name-and-form take shape in the womb?"
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

So this is how sankhara leads to consciousness in terms of dependent origination. That's why the suttas say "beings are born of kamma".


In the five aggregates the meaning of sankhara is a bit wider as it naturally must include all sankhara, not just those based on ignorance. The sutta also confirms it is speaking of all sankhara whatsoever. So defining sankhara here, it is all sankhara, all that is creating and changing form, feeling etc. Also the breath is a sankhara in this context, one that obviously is not based on ignorance. You can also see that in the sutta he speaks in another way about sankhara with respect to consciousness. He doesn't say one conditions (paccaya) the other.

So when speaking of sankhara creating consciousness here, it speaks of how due to sense contact there arises consciousness in general. There is a process going on to turn an object via the respective sense, into contact, into consciousness. This process in itself is what the Buddha called a sankhara as well. An important part of this process is turning the attention towards the thing that one of conscious of and I think that's the main sankhara the Buddha is pointing to. But, this is not necessarily an unwholesome sankhara, not a rebirth producing sankhara.

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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby santa100 » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:55 pm

From Ven. Bodhi's instroduction to "The Middle Length Discourse":
According to the usual interpretation, the series of twelve factors extends over three lives and divides into causal and resultant phases. The gist of it can be briefly explained as follows. Because of ignorance (avijjā)—defined as non-knowledge of the Four Noble Truths—a person engages in volitional actions or kamma, which may be bodily, verbal, or mental, wholesome or unwholesome. These kammic actions are the formations (sankhārā), and they ripen in states of consciousness (viññāṇa)—first as the rebirth-consciousness at the moment of conception and thereafter as the passive states of consciousness resulting from kamma that matures in the course of a lifetime.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Tue Jul 23, 2013 10:46 pm

tiltbillings wrote:It depends upon what is meant by "fabricate." Ven Bodhi's "conditions" is far less problematic.

Yes,maybe "conditions" is a better one, or maybe other translations are also okay for other contexts.

reflection wrote:Based on my understanding, a few things that may give some insight:
Like other terms, the terms sankhara and vinnana are used quite widely in the suttas. They both have varying meanings depending on context. For example in some places we see vinnana as a synonym for mind. Now, in the first of the quotes you gave, the Buddha is speaking about the 5 aggregates and in the two others he is speaking about dependent origination, so since he is using the terms in different contexts, he does not necessarily mean the same thing.

Yes there are varying meanings depending on context. It may also have following three meanings: fabricators or fabricating processes or fabricated things. In the most general way perhaps sankhara can be understood as "thing upon which something else depends" (Ven. Nanavira). But, in the dependent origination the Buddha must have used the word with a specific meaning (bodily, verbal, and mental sankhara).

reflection wrote:Let me start with explaining my understanding of the dependent origination link, because this one is by far the most common in the suttas, so the most important to understand. First, dependent origination is about conditionality, but not necessarily instant conditionality. For example birth is a condition for death, but they don't happen at the same time. Then second, dependent origination sankhara is not all sankhara. It says ignorance leads to sankhara, so the sankhara being spoken about are those based on ignorance, which are not all sankhara. It speaks of those leading to birth ...
... So this is how sankhara leads to consciousness in terms of dependent origination. That's why the suttas say "beings are born of kamma".
... So sankhara here is sankhara that are based on ignorance, the unskillful kamma leading to birth of consciousness, birth of name and form, those are the sankhara in DO....
... In the five aggregates the meaning of sankhara is a bit wider as it naturally must include all sankhara, not just those based on ignorance ...

Thanks, reflection. But don't all sankhara (including five aggregates) directly or indirectly arise due to ignorance?
Also, if the sankhara in the dependent origination are to be understood as "Kamma" then the question is: how do these kamma sankhara give rise to such consciousness leading to birth? Does this question fall under Acinteyya?

reflection wrote:So when speaking of sankhara creating consciousness here, it speaks of how due to sense contact there arises consciousness in general. There is a process going on to turn an object via the respective sense, into contact, into consciousness. This process in itself is what the Buddha called a sankhara as well. An important part of this process is turning the attention towards the thing that one of conscious of and I think that's the main sankhara the Buddha is pointing to. But, this is not necessarily an unwholesome sankhara, not a rebirth producing sankhara.

Yes, I also like to understand it as a process, but I am not clear how this process works.
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby reflection » Tue Jul 23, 2013 11:50 pm

Hi,

In my understanding:

Yes there are varying meanings depending on context. It may also have following three meanings: fabricators or fabricating processes or fabricated things. In the most general way perhaps sankhara can be understood as "thing upon which something else depends" (Ven. Nanavira). But, in the dependent origination the Buddha must have used the word with a specific meaning (bodily, verbal, and mental sankhara).

For myself I usually translate it as 'activities' (mainly in context of the 5 aggregates). Later on I came across some translators using this terminology also and I think it is a useful one. In other words, it is something that is active, that moves, creates, wills, that does. Sankhara here being a collection of all sorts of things, but sharing the 'activity' aspect which we don't find in the other aggregates. For example, consciousness in itself is not 'active', it is not moving.

Thanks, reflection. But don't all sankhara (including five aggregates) directly or indirectly arise due to ignorance?

In a sense, yes, but it is indirectly. All aggregates are here because of ignorance in past lives. If there was no ignorance in past lives, we would be nibbana-ed and there would be no more aggregates. However, in dependent origination the link is directly from ignorance to sankhara. But ignorance does not lead directly to the birth/arising of aggregates. The important link between those is the acting on ignorance. If there theoretically would be only ignorance but no acts, no intentions, there is no kamma.

Only if ignorance actually is acted upon (which it naturally will be), it gives rise to kamma fabrications, it gives rise to the birth, the rearising of the aggregates. This acting upon ignorance (aka kamma) is how I see sankhara in context of dependent origination. And since intention/kamma is of central importance in the entire Dhamma, it's quite logical the Buddha wouldn't leave it out of dependent origination. Now I didn't know what would define a 'usual interpretation', but it seems to me the quote by Bhikkhu Bodhi says this 'usual interpretation' is saying the same as I'm saying. So perhaps you can find more there.

Also, if the sankhara in the dependent origination are to be understood as "Kamma" then the question is: how do these kamma sankhara give rise to such consciousness leading to birth? Does this question fall under Acinteyya?

Kamma, or intentions. How it roughly happens is at death there is no letting go because one still is attached to the six senses, there is still a sankhara based on sustenance/clinging (upadana). This sankhara, which is also based on other sankharas, initiates the new birth. Here you can combine the two life-to-life transitions of dependent origination into one to get the full picture. They basically describe the same process. Trying to understand this is not accinteyya, that would be for example to try and figure out exactly what kamma leads to what rebirth.

Yes, I also like to understand it as a process, but I am not clear how this process works.

So for clarity, now we're back to sankhara as one of the five aggregates, not sankhara in dependent origination. As I said, I think the most important sankhara in this process is the intention that turns towards a particular consciousness. In other words, the mind going out to for example, sounds. In meditation you can get a sense of this when sounds begin to intrude into awareness again after they were not noticed for a while. You see the mind is going after it; this is a sankhara. There is quite a famous story of Ajahn Chah being able to consciously decide whether he would hear sounds or not. With the body consciousness it can also be quite obvious; when pain arises, the mind often moves towards the pain. This is an activity, this is a sankhara. And it is an important one because it can be (but is not necessarily) based on attachment to the senses.

There are other sankhara in the process but these I personally think are of minor importance. For example, the feelings or images arising in the mind are created, are sankhara-ed. Same with other senses.



But we can try to get our head around it, but as I said, seeing things in meditation is more clear. The Buddha's words are like describing the taste of a banana; you can't recreate the taste by thinking about the description of it. At times contemplating these deep teachings may be useful, but I think it is at least just as fruitful to put these things aside and simply still the mind. And then to simply ask ourselves, what am I attached to? And if I die, how would I act upon that attachment?

Hope it creates some clarity. If not, don't break your brain over it. :D Samadhi is important in understanding sankhara:

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby chownah » Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:47 am

tiltbillings wrote:
SamKR wrote:
Saṅkhārapaccayā viññāṇaṃ

My question:
How do sankhara fabricate vinnana?
It depends upon what is meant by "fabricate." Ven Bodhi's "conditions" is far less problematic.

Do you have a link to Ven Bodhi's version of this?
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby SamKR » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:37 pm

Thanks, reflection.

"The individual who has attained internal tranquillity of awareness, but not insight into phenomena through heightened discernment, should approach an individual who has attained insight into phenomena through heightened discernment and ask him: 'How should fabrications be regarded? How should they be investigated? How should they be seen with insight?' The other will answer in line with what he has seen & experienced: 'Fabrications should be regarded in this way. Fabrications should be investigated in this way. Fabrications should be seen in this way with insight.' Then eventually he [the first] will become one who has attained both internal tranquillity of awareness & insight into phenomena through heightened discernment.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

:thumbsup:
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Re: Sankhara-paccaya Vinnanam: How?

Postby reflection » Thu Jul 25, 2013 6:34 pm

You're welcome :anjali:
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