A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:07 am

Feeling (vedanā), as the second of the five aggregates (khandha), is divided into five different kinds:
bodily agreeable (sukha)
bodily disagreeable (dukkha)
mentally agreeable (somanassa)
mentally disagreeable (domanassa)
indifferent/neutral (upekkhā)
- Are all feelings based on the senses other than the mind and touch—i.e., sights, sounds, odours and tastes—mental feelings (and not bodily feelings)?
- Bodily feelings (agreeable and disagreeable) are only those related to touch?
- Neutral feeling is only a mental feeling?

Would the following be correct?

Bodily impressions/touch = Only agreeable, or disagreeable*
Mental impressions = Agreeable, disagreeable or neutral
- Except: sights, sounds, odours, tastes = Always neutral*
*Initial feeling from sense-impression (phassa).

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 6141
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by DooDoot » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:57 am

samseva wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:07 am
Feeling (vedanā), as the second of the five aggregates (khandha), is divided into five different kinds:
bodily agreeable (sukha)
bodily disagreeable (dukkha)
mentally agreeable (somanassa)
mentally disagreeable (domanassa)
indifferent/neutral (upekkhā)
The above division appears found in certain suttas (such as SN 48.36 and SN 36.22) however its not a topic I have studied previously. I am quickly browsing a few suttas now, out of curiosity. My previous impression is "domanassa" is generally a "sankhara" (rather than "vedana"), namely, the culmination of suffering, as follows:
Birth is a condition for old age and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness and distress to come to be.

jātipaccayā jarāmaraṇaṃ sokaparidevadukkhadomanassupāyāsā sambhavanti.

That is how this entire mass of suffering originates.

Evametassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti.

https://suttacentral.net/sn12.2/en/sujato
My opinion is it is not appropriate to call something that has arisen from craving, attachment & thinking a "feeling" ("vedana"). When grief or sadness ("domanassa") occurs, such as grief over the death of a loved one, I personally think this grief is a "sankhara" rather than a "vedana" (even though it includes painful feelings within it). A grieving person thinks "I have lost my love". Although this type of thinking ("sankhara") causes pain, I think the overall characteristic of the mental arising should be viewed as a "sankhara" ("mental fabrication").

:reading:

I notice in SN 36.22 the fivefold feelings are called "indriya" ("faculties"):
And what are the five feelings?
Katamā ca, bhikkhave, pañca vedanā?

The faculties of pleasure, pain, happiness, sadness, and equanimity. …
Sukhindriyaṃ, dukkhindriyaṃ, somanassindriyaṃ, domanassindriyaṃ, upekkhindriyaṃ—
I think the 1st question that should be answered is why are these five "feelings" called "indriya" here; when the other classifications of feelings are not called "indriya"? :shrug:
samseva wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:07 am
- Are all feelings based on the senses other than the mind and touch—i.e., sights, sounds, odours and tastes—mental feelings (and not bodily feelings)?
The above appears to be not so because the standard teaching appears to be all three standard feelings (pleasant, painful & neither) feelings arise from all six sense contacts; as follows:
Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant....

Bhikkhus, dependent on the ear and sounds, ear-consciousness arises…Dependent on the mind and mind-objects, mind-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant...

https://suttacentral.net/mn148/en/bodhi
I think the 1st question that should be answered is why is the five-fold classification of "feelings" called "indriya"? :shrug:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

Srilankaputra
Posts: 733
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:56 am
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by Srilankaputra » Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:44 pm

hi samseva,

I think these are different ways of investigating vedana. It depends on the practitioner which one he chooses.
The Blessed One said: "And which one-hundred-and-eight exposition is a Dhamma exposition? There is the exposition whereby I have spoken of two feelings, the exposition whereby I have spoken of three feelings... five... six... eighteen... thirty-six... one hundred and eight feelings.

"And which are the two feelings? Physical & mental. These are the two feelings.

"And which are the three feelings? A feeling of pleasure, a feeling of pain, a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain. These are the three feelings.

"And which are the five feelings? The pleasure-faculty, the pain-faculty, the happiness-faculty, the distress-faculty, the equanimity-faculty. These are the five feelings.

"And which are the six feelings? A feeling born of eye-contact, a feeling born of ear-contact... nose-contact... tongue-contact... body-contact... intellect-contact. These are the six feelings.

"And which are the eighteen feelings? Six happiness-explorations, six distress-explorations, six equanimity-explorations. These are the eighteen feelings.

"And which are the thirty-six feelings? Six kinds of household happiness & six kinds of renunciation happiness; six kinds of household distress & six kinds of renunciation distress; six kinds of household equanimity & six kinds of renunciation equanimity.These are the thirty-six feelings.

"And which are the one hundred and eight feelings? Thirty-six past feelings, thirty-six future feelings, and thirty-six present feelings. These are the one hundred and eight feelings.

"And this, monks, is the one-hundred-and-eight exposition that is a Dhamma exposition."

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html
O seeing one,we for refuge go to thee!
O mighty sage do thou our teacher be!

Paccuppannañca yo dhammaṃ,
Tattha tattha vipassati

“Yato yato mano nivāraye,
Na dukkhameti naṃ tato tato;
Sa sabbato mano nivāraye,
Sa sabbato dukkhā pamuccatī”ti.

santa100
Posts: 3781
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by santa100 » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:29 pm

samseva wrote:- Are all feelings based on the senses other than the mind and touch—i.e., sights, sounds, odours and tastes—mental feelings (and not bodily feelings)?
- Bodily feelings (agreeable and disagreeable) are only those related to touch?
- Neutral feeling is only a mental feeling?
Many different ways to slice and dice feeling (see MN 59) As 3-fold: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral; or as 5-fold: pleasure, pain, happiness, sadness, and equanimity; then the 5-fold's bodily section is further divided:
Bodily: 1. eye; 2. ear; 3. nose; 4. tongue; 5. body; Where item 5, body, is either pleasant or painful, but no neutral feeling. The first 4 items can be all 3: pleasant, painful, or neutral (according to Abhidhamma).
Therefore, neutral feeling can be either bodily or mental, but in terms of bodily, it'd only apply to eye, ear, nose, and tongue, but not body.
SN 48.36 wrote:And what, bhikkhus, is the equanimity faculty? Whatever feeling there is, whether bodily or mental, that is neither comfortable nor uncomfortable: this, bhikkhus, is called the equanimity faculty."
Last edited by santa100 on Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SarathW
Posts: 12480
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by SarathW » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:36 pm

Relevant to the Abhidhamma, two other classifications of vedanaa must be mentioned.

Five Kinds:
bodily agreeable feeling — kaayikaa sukhaa vedanaa (sukha)
bodily disagreeable feeling — kaayikaa dukkhaa vedanaa (dukkha)
mentally agreeable feeling — cetasikaa sukhaa vedanaa (somanassa)
mentally disagreeable feeling — cetasikaa dukkhaa vedanaa (domanassa)
indifferent or neutral feeling — adukkha-m-asukhaa vedanaa (upekkhaa)
Six Kinds:
Feelings born of eye-contact, ear-contact, nose-contact, tongue-contact, body-contact and mind-contact.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el322.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

SarathW
Posts: 12480
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by SarathW » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:45 pm

Would the following be correct?
Good question.
There is a disagreement in Sutta and the Abhidhamma.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:44 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:57 am
[...]
Although I had found SN36.22, SN48.36 and MN148 are very useful. Thanks!
DooDoot wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:57 am
My previous impression is "domanassa" is generally a "sankhara" (rather than "vedana"), namely, the culmination of suffering, [...]
Although domanassa and somanassa are from the mind, they aren't saṅkhāra. At least, from my understanding, they're mind phenomena, but they are classified as feeling, in the sense that, from a wholesome or unwholesome action of mind—i.e., saṅkhāra—there is a resulting feeling from that mental action, which is either pleasant, painful or neutral (somanassa, somanassa or upekkhā).

However, with grief, this would in fact be saṅkhāra, and not domanassa. Grief would rather be aversion to an event, such as the death of a loved one. From the aversion—and also the attachments (clinging/upādāna) to the person—there results large amounts of suffering and mental pain (dukkha, or domanassa).

The common misunderstanding with vendanā is that, especially in Western and English contexts, feelings and emotions are grouped together. Vedanā, however, is feeling (rather than 'feelings'), as in a basic psychological mechanism of the mind.
DooDoot wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:57 am
I think the 1st question that should be answered is why are these five "feelings" called "indriya" here; when the other classifications of feelings are not called "indriya"?
Re indriya in SN36.22, the five feelings (vedanā) are part of the 22 indriya. It could maybe also be because the Buddha, on a single occasion, described the five feelings in a general way, such as 'to be human is to have the ability/faculty of feeling pain, pleasure and neutral feeling'. In SN36.22, being highly comprehensive, with all the different classifications of the five feelings (as well as in MN 148), vedanā is used.

Thanks again for MN148, it is descriptive and helpful—especially MN148.34:
MN148.34 (transl., Bhikkhu Bodhi) wrote:Bhikkhus, dependent on the eye and forms, eye-consciousness arises; the meeting of the three is contact; with contact as condition there arises a feeling felt as pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant. When one is touched by a pleasant feeling, if one does not delight in it, welcome it, and remain holding to it, then the underlying tendency to lust does not lie within one. When one is touched by a painful feeling, if one does not sorrow, grieve and lament, does not weep beating one’s breast and become distraught, then the underlying tendency to aversion does not lie within one. When one is touched by a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, if one understands as it actually is the origination, the disappearance, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in regard to that feeling, then the underlying tendency to ignorance does not lie within one. Bhikkhus, that one shall here and now make an end of suffering by abandoning the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling, by abolishing the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling, by extirpating the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, by abandoning ignorance and arousing true knowledge—this is possible.

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:59 am

SarathW wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:45 pm
Would the following be correct?
Good question.
There is a disagreement in Sutta and the Abhidhamma.
Yes, I think there might be important differences with the Sutta and Abhidhamma descriptions of vedanā!
santa100 wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:29 pm
Therefore, neutral feeling can be either bodily or mental, but in terms of bodily, it'd only apply to eye, ear, nose, and tongue, but not body.
SN 48.36 wrote:And what, bhikkhus, is the equanimity faculty? Whatever feeling there is, whether bodily or mental, that is neither comfortable nor uncomfortable: this, bhikkhus, is called the equanimity faculty."
Although indriya is used instead of vedanā, SN48.36 is very revealing in contrasting with the Abhidhammic classication of bodily impressions (of them only resulting in painful or pleasant, but not neutral feeling).

With SN48.36, it could very much simplify the classifications of vedanā as being pleasant/painful/neutral for all sense-impressions, both physical and mental. This would especially be helpful for Satipaṭṭhāna/vedanānupassanā! However, there being indriya instead of vedanā in the original Pāḷi doesn't yet make it 100% conclusive. :smile:

SarathW
Posts: 12480
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by SarathW » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:33 am

The way I understand equanimity is only mental, not bodily.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 6141
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by DooDoot » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:37 am

samseva wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:44 am
Re indriya in SN36.22, the five feelings (vedanā) are part of the 22 indriya
Are the 22 indriya from Abhidhamma? If so, they could be later additions to the suttas, similar to MN 117, MN 111, etc.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:41 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:37 am
samseva wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 1:44 am
Re indriya in SN36.22, the five feelings (vedanā) are part of the 22 indriya
Are the 22 indriya from Abhidhamma? If so, they could be later additions to the suttas, similar to MN 117, MN 111, etc.
Maybe. It is difficult to differentiate what is what. Although, Nyanatiloka Thera says the following in his Buddhist Dictionary:
indriya: ‘faculties’, is a name for 22, partly physical, partly mental, phenomena often treated in the Suttas as well as in the Abhidhamma. They are: [...]

User avatar
DooDoot
Posts: 6141
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by DooDoot » Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:01 am

samseva wrote:
Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:41 am
Maybe. It is difficult to differentiate what is what. Although, Nyanatiloka Thera says the following...
VBB's notes from #210 about SN 48.31 on page 1933 of his SN appear to be about Abhidhamma. SN 48.31 is below:
“Mendicants, there are these five faculties.
“Pañcimāni, bhikkhave, indriyāni.

What five?
Katamāni pañca?

The faculties of pleasure, pain, happiness, sadness and equanimity.
Sukhindriyaṃ, dukkhindriyaṃ, somanassindriyaṃ, domanassindriyaṃ, upekkhindriyaṃ—

These are the five faculties.”
imāni kho, bhikkhave, pañcindriyānī”ti.
Possibly, I see these distinctions as useful in respect to practise such as in SN 36.6, where an unavoidable physical feeling gives rise to mental feeling. This said, I doubt it changes much because when physical feeling arises any resultant aversion is to be prevented or abandoned. I personally think it makes little difference. Whether one bodily feeling is discerned or two feelings (mental & physical) are discerned, the mind still needs to avoid aversion (craving).
Last edited by DooDoot on Sun Feb 17, 2019 6:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/paticcasamuppada
https://soundcloud.com/doodoot/anapanasati

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sun Feb 17, 2019 4:25 am

Bhikkhu Bodhi's note on SN48.36:
212. According to the Abhidhamma, all bodily feeling, that is, feeling arisen through bodily sensitivity (kāyappasāda), is either pleasant or painful; there is no neutral feeling based on bodily sensitivity. Hence Spk explains the bodily equanimity as feeling arisen based on the other four senses, the eye, etc. The word upekkhā, translated as equanimity, has two main denotations. In relation to feeling it denotes neutral feeling, adukkhamasukhā vedanā, feeling which is neither painful nor pleasant.[/b] As a mental quality, [... (describing upekkhā as 'equanimity')].

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Sun Feb 17, 2019 5:27 am

It would seem that—at least for the Abhidhammic interpretation—feelings would rather be classed as:
Bodily impressions
- Touch = Only agreeable, or disagreeable*
- Sights, sounds, odours, tastes = Always neutral*
Mental impressions = Agreeable, disagreeable or neutral*
*Initial feeling from sense-impression (phassa).
It would also mean that in the fivefold Abhidhammic division of vedanā, neutral feeling (upekkhā), along with pleasure and pain, could be either physical or mental.

However, there are apposing sources regarding if sights, sounds, odours, tastes are classed in bodily, or mental feelings.

For the Sutta interpretation, I guess it would at least be:
Bodily impressions
- Touch = ?*
- Sights, sounds, odours, tastes = ?*
Mental impressions = Agreeable, disagreeable or neutral*
*Initial feeling from sense-impression (phassa).

User avatar
samseva
Posts: 2177
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:59 pm

Re: A Better Understanding of Feeling (Vedanā)

Post by samseva » Mon Feb 18, 2019 3:43 am

It would seem that, similarly to SN 48.36, bodily feeling based on the Suttas—in contrast to Abhidhamma, of which bodily feeling can only be pleasant or painful—could be neutral as well (along with pleasant and painful feeling). This is described in SN 36.7 (although not being completely conclusive, since, in a way, everything is 'dependent on this body'). 
SN 36.7 (transl., Bhikkhu Bodhi; Pāḷi, VRI edition) wrote:Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a body that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in the body and in neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to the body and in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.

Tassa ce, bhikkhave, bhikkhuno evaṃ satassa sampajānassa appamattassa ātāpino pahitattassa viharato uppajjati adukkhamasukhā vedanā, so evaṃ pajānāti – ‘uppannā kho myāyaṃ adukkhamasukhā vedanā. Sā ca kho paṭicca, no appaṭicca. Kiṃ paṭicca? Imameva kāyaṃ paṭicca. Ayaṃ kho pana kāyo anicco saṅkhato paṭiccasamuppanno. Aniccaṃ kho pana saṅkhataṃ paṭiccasamuppannaṃ kāyaṃ paṭicca uppannā adukkhamasukhā vedanā kuto niccā bhavissatī’ti! So kāye ca adukkhamasukhāya ca vedanāya aniccānupassī viharati, vayānupassī viharati, virāgānupassī viharati, nirodhānupassī viharati, paṭinissaggānupassī viharati. Tassa kāye ca adukkhamasukhāya ca vedanāya aniccānupassino viharato…pe… paṭinissaggānupassino viharato, yo kāye ca adukkhamasukhāya ca vedanāya avijjānusayo, so pahīyati.
_____

Regarding feelings based on sights, sounds, odours and tastes, I was still not certain if these were classed as a bodily feeling or mental feeling. Although, it could logically come under mental feeling.

In Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations of the MN/SN/AN, almost all of the many instances where 'bodily feeling' is mentioned, it is used with the stock expression:
[...] bodily feelings have arisen that are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, harrowing, disagreeable [...]”
It would clearly be false to consider feelings based of sights, sounds, odours and tastes largely capable of causing feelings that are 'racking, sharp, piercing...'.

There is also Bhikkhu Bodhi's note of which he mentions 'bodily sensitivity (kāyappasāda)', the word seemingly based on the Abhidhamma, of which the compound doesn't seem to be in PED. Although, note the contradiction with bodily equanimity being equated to feelings based of sights, sounds, odours and tastes.
Note 212, SN 48.36, Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:212 According to the Abhidhamma, all bodily feeling, that is, feeling arisen through bodily sensitivity (kāyappasāda), is either pleasant or painful; there is no neutral feeling based on bodily sensitivity. Hence Spk explains the bodily equanimity as feeling arisen based on the other four senses, the eye, etc.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Aniccato, JohnK, mikenz66, retrofuturist, thepea and 140 guests