What is Sankahara Dukkha?

There is three type of Dukkha.
Viparinama (results of attachment), Dukhadukha (results of aversion) and Sankahara Dukkha(results of ignorance).
This is explained in SN5.1 Dukkahata Sutta.
Cau you explain what Sankhara Dukkha means?

This video in the Sinhalese language

In a nutshell, this is Dukhkha due to our endless continuation in Samsara.
With Metta

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But how does this relate to ignorance?
ie: Attachment and aversion is a result of ignorance which is already covered.

Ignorance is the lack of understanding the four noble truths and ignorance is also the first link of Dependent Origination. DO explains why we continue in Samsara. So, if we continue in Samsara due to ignorance, every birth leads us to Dukhkha. ( jati paccaya jara marana, soka parideva etc). Hence ignorance leads to Dukhkha.

With Metta

What I am saying is in DO, attachment and aversion is already accounted under Tanha. (Kama, Bhava, Vibhava)

Your first question = "Cau you explain what Sankhara Dukkha means?
Your new question = “What I am saying is in DO, attachment and aversion is already accounted under Tanha. (Kama, Bhava, Vibhava)”

Can you explain how these two questions relate to each other.

With Metta

Viparinama Dukkha is the result of attachment to pleasant feelings.
Dukkhadukha is the result of the aversion to unpleasant feelings.
Sankhara Dukkha is the result of equanimous feelings (Upekkha )

The question is how equanimous feelings becomes Sankhara Dukkha.

I’m not sure where this comes from, but it’s not in the suttas. The suttas say that ignorance is the counterpart of equanimity (because when something is boring we don’t pay attention to it). But when there is mindfulness and clarity, of course, equanimity leads to wisdom. A perhaps underappreciated nuance of this is that in the suttas, the equanimity that leads to wisdom is almost always presented as a very high dhamma, which emerges from the deep bliss of jhana, not before.

Perhaps there is a confusion here between two sense of the word saṅkhāra.

  • In dependent origination, saṅkhāra means “volition” or “choice”, i.e. the morally potent actions we make because of ignorance, which lead to rebirth. Here it is a synonym of kamma.
  • In the three kinds of suffering, saṅkhāra means “condition”, i.e. any conditioned phenomena, in other words, everything except for Nibbana. So the meaning of saṅkhāradukkha is simply that everything is suffering to some degree because it is not as peaceful as Nibbana.

To further explain the three kinds of dukkha, think about eating icecream. Yum! delicious, right? :ice_cream: Eating icecream is pleasant, and causes pleasant feelings.

But of course if you eat 6 or 7 of them, you get a sore tummy—that’s dukkhadukkha, inherently painful feelings.

However, what of the second icecream? That’s not painful at all. But still, it’s not quite as pleasant as the first one. The pleasant feelings are a little less intense; they cannot be maintained unchangingly, but must always be worked at, varied, adjusted so you can even keep close to the inital pleasure. This is viparināmadukkha, the suffering in deterioration.

Finally, what of the first one? That is pure, unalloyed bliss, no pain at all, and no sense of satiation, just a blessed burst of pleasure! But still, no matter how pleasant it is, it is never as good as Nibbana. It is still suffering because of the unavoidable unpeacefulness of conditioned things. This is saṅkhāradukkha.


Yes this is my understanding too.
It appears there is an additional Dukkha is coming due to ignorance. (first two are related to attachment and aversion) First two are related to pleasant feeling and unpleasant feeling. So the left over is Upekkha with ignorance.

Please read the Chapter 2 of “What the Buddha taught” by Ven Walpola Rahula.

With Metta

The link:

But the third form of dukkha as conditioned states (samkhara-dukkha) is the
most important philosophical aspect of the First Noble Truth, and it requires some
analytical explanation of what we consider as a ‘being’, as an ‘individual’, or as ‘I’.
What we call a ‘being’, or an ‘individual’, or ‘I’, according to Buddhist philosophy, is
only a combination of ever-changing physical and mental forces of energies, which
may be divided into five groups or aggregates (pancakkhandha). The Buddha says :
‘In short these five aggregates of attachment are dukkha’. Elsewhere he distinctly
defines dukkha as the five aggregates: ‘O bhikkhus, what is dukkha? It should be
said that it is the five aggregates of attachment’. Here it should be clearly
understood that dukkha and the five aggregates are not two different things; the
five aggregates themselves are dukkha.

Does this mean Samkhara-dukkha encompass all Dukkha?

Wow bhante, that is indeed very well put and helpful. :anjal:

I will never have ice cream the same way! :smile:


There is only Dukhkha. In short the five aggregates of clinging are Dukhkha.SN 56.11.
With Metta

At the start the ice cream was satisfactory. At the end it was unsatisfactory.

So form (ice cream) is neither inherently satisfactory nor inherently unsatisfactory. It’s devoid of both; empty like a lump of foam.

At the start the ice cream felt good, but this pleasant feeling arose and passed away, like a water bubble.

At the start the ice cream was perceived as satisfactory, but this perception was replaced by the 6th or 7th scoop by the perception that ice cream is unsatisfactory. So perception is like a mirage.

No matter how you dissect it, you’re not going to find stable happiness (or unhappiness) in the intention to eat ice cream. So intention is devoid of heartwood, like the trunk of a plantain tree.

Consciousness first said that ice cream is satisfactory. Then it said ice cream is unsatisfactory. Which is it truly? Ice cream couldn’t possibly be both satisfactory and unsatisfactory. If something is truly satisfactory can it also be unsatisfactory? Consciousness deceives us at both extremes of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. We see that satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) really has nothing to do with ice cream, but everything to do with changing perception, feeling, and consciousness. So consciousness is like a magician’s trick.


The start of the ice-cream had pleasant feeling (sukkha vedana), yet even pleasant feeling (sukkha vedana) is unsatisfactory as it is impermanent (anicca). This is the Truth of unsatisfactoriness (dukkha sacca), rather than the feeling of unpleasantness (dukkha vedana).

Watching the moment by moment arising and passing away of any phenomena, one sees that that is nothing but suffering, even if it is the most pleasant sensation.

He knows without doubt or hesitation that whatever arises is merely dukkha that what passes away is merely dukkha and such knowledge is his own, not depending on anyone else. SN 12.15

with metta

Does this mean Samkhara-dukkha encompass all Dukkha?

Yes, that seems correct.

Then the question come whether all Devas and Brahma also have the Viparinama Dukkha and Dukkha-dukkha?

I wasn’t saying the ice cream is actually satisfactory at the start. Only pointing out how consciousness cognizes it.