Does a Buddha have a 'kaya sankhara'?

MN 44 appears to define the term ‘kaya sankhara’ (also found in MN 118) as the ‘in & out breathing’.

MN 44 also appears to define the ‘vaci sankhara’ as ‘initial & sustained thought’ (vittaka & vicara) and the ‘citta sankhara’ as ‘perception & feeling’.

One definition of Nibbana includes the phrase: ''sabba-saṅkhāra-samatho", which I assume means the 'calming of all sankhara".

Generally, the term ‘sankhara’ is related to ‘conditioning’ or ‘fabricating’.

My question is: Does a Buddha have these above three sankhara? Or should the breathing, thought & perception of a Buddha be described in a different way?

Okay, well, this is not a simple matter, but here goes: There’s several different kinds of saṅkhāras.

The three mentioned in MN 44 are fundamental aspects of mind/body processes, and their gradual cessation is what happens through the process of samadhi. So does the Buddha have them? Sure, until he, like anyone else, goes into deep samadhi.

Othertimes saṅkhāras refer to “intention”, which is where it gets a little tricky. On the one hand, an awakened being has intentions just the same as you or I. They make choices and decisions.

But one of the important aspects of these intentions is that, in accordance with dependent origination, they are the creative force that constructs future lives. So in this sense, no, the Buddha (or other arahants) doesn’t have them.

Finally, saṅkhāras sometimes mean “all conditioned phenomena”. In this sense, the Buddha stills has saṅkhāras as long as he is alive (he just doesn’t have craving and attachments). But after parinibbana they are no more; and this is what sabbasaṅkhārasamatho means.

Does that clear things up at all?

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Thank you. The above seems to help clear things up.

In MN 1, it does not state an arahant ‘perceives’ although it states the ordinary person ‘perceives’. Instead, it states an arahant: “fully comprehends”. I thought there may be a distinction like this, although I do know sutta such as the Yamaka Sutta state an arahant has five aggregates, including perception (thus not attributing any special term to the perception of an arahant).

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i think in MN 1 full comprehension and direct knowledge of an arahant is an antithesis to conceiving by an ordinary person rather than to their perception

an ordinary person perceives and then conceives
an arahant perceives but doesn’t conceive because they already possess direct knowledge

Thank you. I personally do not read the sutta like this, which states:

A run-of-the-mill person — perceives earth as earth. Perceiving earth as earth, he conceives [things] about earth, he conceives [things] in earth, he conceives [things] coming out of earth, he conceives earth as ‘mine,’ he delights in earth.

A monk who is a Worthy One — directly knows earth as earth. Directly knowing earth as earth, he does not conceive things about earth, does not conceive things in earth, does not conceive things coming out of earth, does not conceive earth as ‘mine,’ does not delight in earth.

To me, perception is one thing (born from sanna khandha) & conceiving is another thing (born from sankhara khandha).

In my reading, the arahant fully comprehends earth for what is actually is while the ordinary perceives earth but not it is ultimate reality; thus the ordinary person conceives & imagines things about earth, as follows:

Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there is feeling. What one feels, one perceives (labels in the mind). What one perceives, one thinks about. What one thinks about, one objectifies. Based on what a person objectifies, the perceptions & categories of objectification assail him/her with regard to past, present, & future forms cognizable via the eye.

MN 18

I see you made an addition to your post, which I agree with.

I wish to approach this question based on Abhidhamma.

Universal mental factors (sabba citta saadhaaranaa)
Particular mental factors (paki.n.nakaa)
Unwholesome mental factors (akusalaa)
Beautiful mental factors (sobhanaa)

Based on above I would say that Buddha did not have only the unwholesome mental factors.
He possessed all other mental factors Cittas , perception and feelings.

It appears this MN discourse is also paralleled in SN 41.6 / SA 568.

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Hi Deeele,

Have you checked out Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought by Venerable Nanananda? It is basically all about papanca and papanca-sanna-sankha.