It is correct that sankhārā
can have the meaning of "volition". To clear up the words I mean cetanā
when I'm talking about "volition" (a better word would be intention).
can be cetanā
. But I think the term sankhārā
can not be understood just that easily.
I'll come later back to this.
acinteyyo wrote:So do you mean sankhara is a kind of "volitional activity"?
[...]well, isn't it? How would you like to define "sankhara"?
We could also say instead of "volitional activity", "intented action", right? This would be a perfect match, because intention or volition is cetanā
and action or activity is kamma
. The Buddha said about kamma
AN6.63 wrote:Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intending, one does kamma by way of body, speech, & mind.
is in my opinion a very difficult word, because there are much more definitions in the suttas and we have to be very careful to not mix up the different meanings sankhārā
can have according to the applicable context.
In general we can say that sankhārā
means in all contexts
, 'something that something else depends on', that is to say a determination. But we want to find a more detailed definition within the context of D.O.
Interessting is also this passage from the "Paticca-samuppada-vibhanga Sutta: Analysis of Dependent Co-arising" SN12.2, which gives us a definition with respect to D.O.:
"And what are fabrications? These three are fabrications: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, mental fabrications. These are called fabrications.
We can see that there are three sankhārā
: bodily sankhārā
, verbal sankhārā
and mental sankhārā
. Notice the similarity to what is said in AN6.63: [...] one does kamma by way of body, speech and mind
There is another sutta where we can see what bodily, verbal and mental sankhārā
are. The Culavedalla Sutta:
MN44 wrote:"Now, lady, what are fabrications?"
"These three fabrications, friend Visakha: bodily fabrications, verbal fabrications, & mental fabrications."
"But what are bodily fabrications? What are verbal fabrications? What are mental fabrications?"
"In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thoughts & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."
"But why are in-&-out breaths bodily fabrications? Why are directed thoughts & evaluation verbal fabrications? Why are perceptions & feelings mental fabrications?"
"In-&-out breaths are bodily; these are things tied up with the body. That's why in-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech. That's why directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental; these are things tied up with the mind. That's why perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications."
So bodily fabrications are in-and-out breaths, because these things are tied up with the body.
Verbal fabrications are directed thoughts and evaluation, because having first directed one's thoughts and made an evaluation, one then breaks out into speech.
And mental fabrications are perceptions and feelings, because these are things tied up with the mind.
Ven. Ñanavira said on the matter of sankhārā
Now the traditional interpretation says that sankhārā in the paticcasamuppāda context are kamma, being cetanā. Are we therefore obliged to understand in-&-out-breaths, thinking-&-pondering, and perception and feeling, respectively, as bodily, verbal, and mental kamma (or cetanā)? Is my present existence the result of my breathing in the preceding existence? Is thinking-&-pondering verbal action? Must we regard perception and feeling as intention, when the Suttas distinguish between them (Phuttho bhikkhave vedeti, phuttho ceteti, phuttho sañjānāti...(Contacted, monks, one feels; contacted, one intends; contacted, one perceives;...) [SN35.93]
Certainly, sankhārā may, upon occasion, be cetanā; but this is by no means always so. The Cūlavedallasutta tells us clearly in what sense in-&-out-breaths, thinking-&-pondering, and perception and feeling, are sankhārā (i.e. in that body, speech, and mind [citta], are intimately connected with them, and do not occur without them); and it would do violence to the Sutta to interpret sankhārā here as cetanā.
Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to suppose from the foregoing that sankhārā in the paticcasamuppāda context cannot mean cetanā. One Sutta (SN12.51) gives sankhārā in this context as puññābhisankhāra [puññā means merit], apuññābhisankhāra [apuññā means demerit], and āneñjābhisankhāra [āneñjā means imperturbability], and it is clear enough that we must understand sankhārā here as some kind of cetanā. Indeed, it is upon this very Sutta that the traditional interpretation relies to justify its conception of sankhārā in the context of the paticcasamuppāda formulation. It might be wondered how the traditional interpretation gets round the difficulty of explaining assāsapassāsā [in-and-out-breathing], vitakkavicārā [thought-conception and discursive thinking], and saññā [perception] and vedanā [feelings], as cetanā, in defiance of the Cūlavedallasutta passage. The answer is simple: the traditional interpretation, choosing to identify cittasankhāra with manosankhāra, roundly asserts (in the Visuddhimagga) that kāyasankhāra [bodily formation], vacīsankhāra [verbal formation], and cittasankhāra [mental formation], are kāyasañcetanā [bodily intention], vacīsañcetanā [verbal intention], and manosañcetanā [mind intention],—see §16 --, and altogether ignores the Cūlavedallasutta. The difficulty is thus, discreetly, not permitted to arise.
§16 There is nothing to add to what was said about kāyasankhāra, vacīsankhāra, and cittasankhāra, in §5
, except to note that we occasionally encounter in the Suttas the terms kāyasankhāra, vacīsankhāra, and manosankhāra (not cittasankhāra). These are to be understood (SN12.25) as kāyasañcetanā, vacīsañcetanā, and manosañcetanā, and should not be confused with the former triad.[g]
Other varieties of sankhārā met with in the Suttas (e.g. āyusankhārā, 'what life depends on', in Majjhima v,3 <M.i,295>), do not raise any particular difficulty. we shall henceforth take it for granted that the essential meaning of sankhāra is as defined in §11.
§11 Let us now turn to the beginning of the paticcasamuppāda formulation and consider the word sankhāra. The passage from the Cūlavedallasutta quoted in §5 evidently uses sankhāra to mean a thing from which some other thing is inseparable—in other words, a necessary condition. This definition is perfectly simple and quite general, and we shall find that it is all that we need. (If a sankhāra is something upon which something else depends, we can say that the 'something else' is determined by the first thing, i.e. by the sankhāra, which is therefore a 'determination' or a 'determinant'. It will be convenient to use the word determination when we need to translate sankhāra.)
To cut a long story short. I think that within the context of D.O. sankhārā
means "the conditions which must be there for something (e.g. conditions for "volitional activity")" as well as "the conditioned something itself (e.g. "volitional activity")".
Imho one would jump to conclusions seeing sankhārā
only as some kind of "volitional activity" (kamma
). And I only wrote about some of the definitions of sankhārā
which can be found in the sutta within the context of D.O..
So to come back to your question you formerly asked.
TMingyur wrote:After all interpretation of DO as meaning this or that is a manifestation of sankhàra, right?
Yes it is a sankhāra
, but this does not mean that every kind of sankhāra
is the result of ignorance.
best wishes, acinteyyo