nibbåna and anattå
are in the future birth, decay, and death, monks, there will be found sorrow, passion, and despair, I say. Saπkhårå are first, volitions; secondly, what form the formed; and thirdly, the five aggregates, the living being. Volitions, thus, are what form the formed; and what is formed is the living being. Combining these, we get a single phrase, ‘volitions form the living being’, which covers all three meanings. This we shall take as expressing the general sense of saπkhårå. The emphasis, in particular contexts, on any one of these three aspects may be more than on the others, as the quotations show; but if the general sense is entirely forgotten in such contexts, the essential background connecting different uses of the word saπkhårå is lost; and many passages, thus isolated, become hard to understand. If the context does not indicate any one particular aspect, then saπkhårå may be understood in its general sense. It will be seen that the general sense of saπkhårå, ‘volitions form the living being’, describes a process taking place in time—past volitions form present beings, present volitions form future beings. Since the chief characteristic of a temporal process is change, we may say ‘every formation of living beings by volitions is a process of change’, or more shortly, ‘all formations are impermanent’; and we thus arrive at sabbe saπkhårå aniccå. A general sense of saπkhårå has been found by putting together three particular and connected meanings: the result is, as it were, the Lowest Common Multiple. The meanings of dhammå, however, seem to be related rather differently, and the general sense may perhaps best be arrived at by finding a formulation that is true of all of them—a kind of Highest Common Factor. Manañ ca pa†icca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññå~aµ. (Majjhima, 148) Dependent upon the mind and upon things, mind-consciousness arises. Mano anicco: dhammå aniccå: manoviññå~aµ aniccaµ. (Sa¬åyatana Saµyutta, 43) The mind is impermanent: things are impermanent: mind-consciousness is impermanent.
Published on Jun 26, 2013
Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...