After studying MN 9 and the relevant suttas, I came to the tentative conclusion that sankhara in Dependent Origination should porbably be translated as "volition" instead of "formation".
Firstly, in Dependent Origination saṅkhāra and viññāṇa appear to have the same meaning as in the Five Aggregates:
"Saṅkhārasamudayā viññāṇasamudayo, saṅkhāranirodhā viññāṇanirodho, ... " (MN 9)
Secondly, in the Five Aggregates, "saṅkhāras" means "volitions":
SN 22.57 Sattatthana Sutta: Seven Bases
translated from the Pali by
"And what are volitions? These six classes of intention — intention with regard to form, intention with regard to sound, intention with regard to smell, intention with regard to taste, intention with regard to tactile sensation, intention with regard to ideas: these are called fabrications. From the origination of contact comes the origination of volitions. "
And DN 22: intention and carving are covered under the fourth aggregate, which is a clear elaboration of what the Buddha meant for the fourth aggregate -- "volitions" instead of "formations".
"Intention for forms... Intention for sounds... Intention for smells... Intention for tastes... Intention for tactile sensations... Intention for mental objects...
Craving for forms... Craving for sounds... Craving for smells... Craving for tastes... Craving for tactile sensations... Craving for mental objects..."
And SN 12.64 (& similarly in MN 72):
"Just as if there were a roofed house or a roofed hall having windows on the north, the south, or the east. When the sun rises, and a ray has entered by way of the window, where does it land?"
"On the western wall, lord."
"And if there is no western wall, where does it land?"
"On the ground, lord."
"And if there is no ground, where does it land?"
"On the water, lord."
"And if there is no water, where does it land?"
"It does not land, lord."
"In the same way, where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food ... contact ... intellectual intention ... consciousness, where there is no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or grow. Where consciousness does not land or grow, name-&-form does not alight. Where name-&-form does not alight, there is no growth of (karmic) volitions. Where there is no growth of volitions, there is no production of renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you, has no sorrow, affliction, or despair."
Metta to all!
Last edited by starter
on Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.