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.
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).
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.