Sorry to revive a sleeping thread, but I stumbled onto this same issue and was confused by a comparison of the Bodhi and Sujato versions of mn118 :
‘cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī assasissāmī’ti sikkhati, ‘cittasaṅkhārapaṭisaṃvedī passasissāmī’ti sikkhati;
He trains thus: ‘I shall breathe in experiencing the mental formation’; he trains thus: ‘I shall breathe out experiencing the mental formation. ’
They practice breathing in experiencing these emotions. They practice breathing out experiencing these emotions.
Personally I prefer “Mental formations” as in the Bodhi version as the strongest translation of
While “formations” is indeed unweildy, and requires some domain knowledge to fully grok, IMHO that complexity is inherent to the concept. The relationship between
cittasaṅkhāraṃ, the more general
saṅkhāra (any type of formation, as in DHP verse 1) and the aggregate
saṅkhāra (which is explicitly not a
vedana) seems important, especially given the nuance of the subtle difference between this verse and the previous two.
Experiencing the “emotions” (IMHO avoiding that word entirely would be best for clarity’s sake) of
sukha themselves is exactly what we were doing in the previous verses. This new command should be something different, and in this case, it seems to be to investigate a new mental aspect of these feelings, the mental formations/ideas/thoughts of them, rather than the body-based direct
vedana from the previous verses.
I hope that makes sense! Investigating this confusion has been an interesting experience so I’m glad the translations didn’t match!
On referring to the previous verses
Originally, based on the Bodhi version (and another version that was read aloud to me during a retreat) I thought that
cittasaṅkhāraṃ in this context was more general, and referred to any mental objects that may be present, rather than specifically those associated with the
sukha developed in the previous verse.
Assuming you have the right sense of it (I was going to debate it, but I’m won over by comparing it to the 4 foundations section later in the sutta) it’s very good that your translation clarifies this explicitly. The Bodhi version, regardless of me liking “mental formations” better, was leading me astray by being too ambiguous.
Really, it almost feels like the most meaningful translation would need a more words to convey the whole meaning that I’m getting from your previous posts, i.e. something like:
They practice breathing in experiencing the mental formations associated with these states. They practice breathing out experiencing the mental formations associated with these states.
Not that I’m asking you to change it to that necessarily, but I’m curious if this comes across to anyone as conceptually accurate, or if I’m still missing the point. To me this really seems like a fresh instruction that fits logically in the flow of the other verses.
Update: Found this interesting StackExchange thread on the subject
It lead me to the Cūḷavedallasutta that I’d read before but only in English:
Perception and feeling are mental. They’re tied up with the mind, that’s why perception and feeling are mental processes.”
Saññā ca vedanā ca cetasikā ete dhammā cittappaṭibaddhā, tasmā saññā ca vedanā ca cittasaṅkhāro”ti.
So there’s clearly at least one place where the Buddha defines
cittasaṅkhāro as including
vedana , and thus my statement above that they should be mutually-exclusive isn’t very well founded.
Still, it really is repetitive if the verse isn’t asking us to investigate something other than the