Are volition (saṅkhāra) and consciousness (viññāṇa), mental processes?

Hi,

In MN 44, when Visakha asks about mental processes, Ven. Dhammadinnā replies that perception (saññā) and sensations (vedanā) are mental processes (cittasaṅkhāra). But why didn’t she also cite volition and consciousness as mental processes?

“But ma’am, what is the physical process? What’s the verbal process? What’s the mental process?”
“Breathing is a physical process. Placing the mind and keeping it connected are verbal processes. Perception and feeling are mental processes.”

Thanks in advance

May all beings be happy

As my understanding, this is to prevent confusion. Take note that, there is 1 Pali word “saṅkhāra” for 2 words: “process” and “choice/volition”

Also, there is a relationship between “saṅkhāra” and “viññāṇa” (consciousness) in the Dependent Origination. In that case, all 3 types of “saṅkhāra” will contribute to the cause of “viññāṇa” (consciousness).

For “viññāṇa”: If you include only “viññāṇa” (consciousness) inside 1 type of “saṅkhāra” as “cittasaṅkhāra” (mental processes), you will not fully describe the Dependent Origination as it is.

For “saṅkhāra”: If you include “saṅkhāra” as a word pointing to 3 types of “saṅkhāra” inside just 1 type of “saṅkhāra” as “cittasaṅkhāra” then it does not make much sense. (For example, we use the word “mammal” to point to plenty of animals including human, it does not make much sense to suddenly include “mammal” exclusively inside the category of “human”)

The Sutta emphasizes dependently arisen nature of consciousness or heart which is always associated with feeling and perception. Sankhara here are things upon other things depend, which could be render as conditions or determinations, phrase “mental processes” doesn’t take into account dependent arising: when this is (perception and feeling) - this is (consciousness).

Intentions of course are also sankhara for consciousness (they are inseparable part of almost any experience - almost since the last meditative attainment before the cessation of perception and feeling can be reached only by:

If any recluses or brahmins describe the entering upon this base to come about through a measure of determinations regarding what is seen, heard, sensed, and cognized, that is declared to be a disaster for entering upon this base.945 For this base, it is declared, is not to be attained as an attainment with determinations; this base, it is declared, is to be attained as an attainment with a residue of determinations.* That is conditioned and gross, but there is cessation of determinations.’ Having known ‘There is this,’ seeing the escape from that, the Tathāgata has gone beyond that. MN 102
*Sasankhārāvasesasamāpatti

But since perception and feeling as sankharas are present in all 8 attainments for the sake of didactic they are mentioned and not intentions.

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