Upekkha wrote: “Before I had thought “sabbe sankhara dukkha” was a very deep verse with many implications, including bad kamma vipaka, rebirth process and the apayas. But now it seems it just means the effort/striving needed for thinking a thought is suffering.”
It seems that the “big picture” got lost while discussing finer aspects.
Here is the “Big Picture.”
1. There are two ways that sankhara are associated with suffering.
– ONE: Most sufferings arise LATER. One cultivates sankhara over a period of time and thus cultivate “patisandhi vinnana” for future rebirths.
– TWO: There is also suffering associated in real-time, as one is generating sankhara. Those can be both “mental stress” and associated physical work (effort involved in speaking and doing things). Even when an Arahant does sankhara (not abhisankhara) to engage in daily activities, they are suffering (i.e., some effort is associated with ANY activity). It seems that Upekkha has been mostly focused on this type.
Now, let us focus on the sufferings that arise later, which are the most important.
2. Of the sufferings that arise later, worse sufferings are associated with “apunnabhisankhara” associated with immoral deeds (dasa akusala.) Patisandhi vinnana for such “bad rebirths” are generated via akusala-mula Paticca Samuppada (PS). Here, “avijja paccaya sankhara” specifically refers to “apunnabhisankhara“.
3. Even “good rebirth” in higher realms result due to punnabhisankhara result from akusala-mula PS process. Here “avijja paccaya sankhara” refers to punnabhisankhara done WITHOUT the comprehension of Tilakkhana.
– However, one MUST DO punnabhisankhara. One MUST AVOID apunnabhisankhara, in order to avoid rebirths in the apayas. That way, one will at least be born in good realms so that one can continue on the Path.
4. However, there will be no end to the rebirth process UNTIL one starts doing punnabhisankhara WITH the comprehension of Tilakkhana.
– In this case, one’s actions that are done with the comprehension of Tilakkhana will fall under the “kusala-mula PS” process.
– That is what leads to various stages of magga phala and eventually to the Arahanthood.
– It is to be noted that one at lower stages of magga phala will be doing some akusala-mula PS processes and some others with the kusala-mula PS process.
– When one reaches the Arahanthood, one’s actions will be just actions (without kammic consequences) because those actions WILL NOT fall under either PS process. These are still called sankhara (but not abhisankhara). Since they do not have kammic consequences, they are called “punna kriya” (an Arahant would not do immoral deeds). Those sankhara are still “mildly stressful” and that is why “sabbe sankhara dukkha.” All sufferings end with the death of an Arahant (i.e., Parinibbana.)
I have discussed all this in previous replies above. But I did not realize that Upekkha was focused on just the “real-time suffering” due to sankhara.
– Hopefully, this “big picture” will help.
Per Upekkha’s statement above, “Before I had thought “sabbe sankhara dukkha” was a very deep verse with many implications, including bad kamma vipaka, rebirth process and the apayas…”
Hopefully, it is clear why “sabbe sankhara dukkha” IS a very deep verse with many implications, including bad kamma vipaka, rebirth process, and the apayas.
– The only thing that may not be clear could be that the sankhara generated by an Arahant would also be “mildly stressful”. There will be “an effort” associated with any kind of activity. Furthermore, an Arahant is also subjected to kamma vipaka and thus may suffer via old age, diseases, etc. All suffering ends only at Parinibbana.