Friends, I was reading Ānandasutta AN 3.32 and came across the word sabbasaṅkhārasamatho it says the stilling of all activities what does is mean?

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The following is a list of synonyms:

sabbasaṅkhārasamatho sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo taṇhākkhayo virāgo nirodho nibbānan’ti

So, it means cessation (nirodha), nibbāna… What’s unclear about it?

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Namo Buddhaya!

Sabba there denotes ‘all’

Samatho denotes stilling which has semantic overlap with cessation, calming & extinguishment

Sankharā there is literally constructs/formations/creations, denoting all things sankhata [created] as the opposite of asankhata [unmade/unconstructed].

It is translated as ‘activities’ there by Bhante Sujato. He doesn’t use constructs/formations/creations having to do with genesis. He pins it thus;

Sometimes ‘choices’
Sometimes ‘conditions’
Sometimes ‘activities’.

Sankharas create other sankharas and are conjoined with consciousness-perception-feeling-discernment-attention and associated with contact, these always occur together; form is sometimes generated, sometimes isn’t.

Other words for sankhara are intention and kamma [action], or things ‘willed’ in general.

In the sutta you reference, in as far as i can tell, Bhante Sujato appears to have chosen ‘activities’ as a word for kammas but i can only speculate about his reasons & reasoning.

There are three classifications of sankhara;
bodily, verbal and mental.

For example:
Breaths are bodily sankharas, feelings & perceptions are mental, and applied & sustained thoughts are verbal because having applied & sustained thought one breaks into speech.

A progressive stilling of all sankharas implies first stilling the verbal sankharas, then bodily sankharas and finally mental sankharas.

This can happen in several ways because there are many states of perception & feeling.

Either way this progressive stilling culminates in the attainment of an altogether cessation of perception & feeling. And in as far as there are taints, one’s taints are removed by the seeing with wisdom. If there are no taints in one who attains it, then the attainment obviously doesn’t remove any taints and is just reckoned as a pinnacle of pleasure, a pleasure where nothing is felt because just that is the pleasure there where nothing is felt.

Buddha describes as pleasure not only the feeling of pleasure but wherever & in whatever terms pleasure is discerned, that he describes as pleasure, and he says that all feelings-sankharas come under dukkha [pain/distress/suffering/unplesantness/ill] due to their inconstancy.

I take it to mean the stilling of kamma. So, for example, when touched by a painful feeling one does not fabricate “anger” or “grief” on account of that.

The sutta refers to conceit which is the third last fetter therefore stilling refers to severing the next, restlessness. It should be pointed out in practice stilling is progressive and applies to any level of tranquillity (nibbana) achieved through recognition of impermanence:

“‘I tell you, the ending of the effluents depends on the first jhāna.’ Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhāna: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: ‘This is peace, this is exquisite—the pacification of all fabrications; the relinquishing of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; unbinding.’

—Anguttara Nikaya 9.32

Nibbana is not cessation of perception & feeling. Nibbana is the cessation of craving. Sabbasaṅkhārasamatho means “calming of all activities”. When Nibbana is attained, the breath is calm, speech is calm, the mind is calm therefore not reacting unskillfully to perception & feeling. The word “samatho” does not mean “stilling”. It means “calming”.

Samatha can have the sense of stilling or ‘cessation’ of all sankharas.

Namo Buddhaya!

“There are three fabrications, householder: bodily-fabrications, verbal fabrications, & mental fabrications.”

“Very good, venerable sir.” And, delighting in and approving of Ven. Kamabhu’s answer, Citta asked him a further question: “But what are bodily-fabrications? What are verbal fabrications? What are mental fabrications?”

“In-&-out breaths are bodily fabrications. Directed thought & evaluation are verbal fabrications. Perceptions & feelings are mental fabrications.”
Kamabhu Sutta: With Kamabhu (2)

There are these six calmings. When one has attained the first jhāna, speech has been calmed. When one has attained the second jhāna, directed thought & evaluation have been calmed. When one has attained the third jhāna, rapture has been calmed. When one has attained the fourth jhāna, in-and-out breathing has been calmed. When one has attained the cessation of perception & feeling, perception & feeling have been calmed. Rahogata Sutta: Alone

When a monk is attaining the cessation of perception & feeling, verbal fabrications cease first, then bodily fabrications, then mental fabrications."

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Calming and cessation are obviously referring to the same thing as is evident by the words nirodho nibbānan’ti in that very same sentence, obviously referring to the very same sabbasaṅkhārasamatho.

Therefore obviously referring to a cessation of the three kinds of sankhara and therefore implying the attainment of the cessation of perception & feeling.

It’s not a matter of interpretation, it’s just plain reading of the texts and it has all the textual support in other texts that one could want.

Whether one rejects this in favor of one’s own fringe interpretation doesn’t mattter.

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Yes, a bahubbihi compound describing nibbāna.
(All five are words describing nibbāna)

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This lecture is entirely about that sentence, but uses AN 10.60