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Saṃjñā

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Saṃjñā (Sanskrit; Pali: Sañña) is a Buddhist term that is typically translated as "perception" or "cognition." It can be defined as grasping at the distinguishing features or characteristics.

Saṃjñā is identified within the Buddhist teachings as follows:

Definitions

Theravada

Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

The characteristic of perception is the perceiving of the qualities of the object. Its function is to make a sign as a condition for perceiving again that "this is the same," or its function is recognizing what has been previously perceived. It becomes manifest as the interpreting of the object...by way of the features that had been apprehended. Its proximate cause is the object as it appears. Its procedure is compared to a carpenter's recognition of certain kinds of wood by the mark he has made on each.

According to the Theravada tradition, saññā experiences the same object as the Citta it accompanies but it performs its own task: it 'perceives' or 'recognizes' the object and it 'marks' it so that it can be recognized again.

The Atthasālinī (I, Part IV, Chapter 1, 110) provides the following two definitions for saññā:

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Mahayana

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is the absolutely specific characteristic of conceptualization (saṃjñā)? It is to know by association. It is to see, hear, specify, and to know by way of taking up the defining characteristics and distinguishing them.

Mipham Rinpoche states:

Perception consists of the grasping of distinguishing features.
In terms of support, they can be divided into six types: perceptions resulting from contact, the meeting of the eye and so forth, up until the mind.
Furthermore, the are distinguishing characteristics in regard to sense objects... and... in regard to names...

Alexander Berzin gives the following informal explanation:

Then there is distinguishing (’du-shes, Skt. Samjna). And so it takes a special feature of the object, of the appearing object—so, the hologram—and it gives some significance to it, some conventional significance to it. In other words, within a sense field it distinguishes between, for instance, light and dark. I mean, we’re seeing a huge amount of information, and in order to deal with it we need to distinguish one little piece from everything else. That’s distinguishing.

Within the five aggregates

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Saṃjñā is identified as one of the five aggregates, as shown in the following diagram

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In the Early Buddhist literature

In the early Buddhism Theravadin texts of the Nikayas/Āgamas, saṃjñā/Sañña is the third of the five aggregates (Skt.: Skandha; Pali: khandha) which can be used to skillfully delineate phenomenological experiences during meditation. Whether as one of the five aggregates, meditative concentration (Samādhi) on the passing and rising (P. vipassana, S. vipaśyanā) of Sañña can lead to Mindfulness (P.sati, S. smṛti), clear comprehension (P. Sampajanna, S. samprajaña) Enlightenment and Arhantship (see Table).

In the Pali Canon, Sañña is frequently defined as:

"It perceives blue, it perceives yellow, it perceives red, it perceives white."
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In post-canonical Pali commentaries, the Visuddhimagga likens Sañña to "a child without discretion."

Alternate translations

Alternate translations for the term Vedana are:

See also

Source

Wikipedia:Saṃjñā