Mmm, that smells good!

Discussion of Abhidhamma and related Commentaries
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JohnK
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Mmm, that smells good!

Post by JohnK »

I have little exposure to Abhidhamma, but am reading Y. Karunadasa's The Theravade Abhidhamma: Inquiry into the Nature of Conditioned Reality. In the section on universal cetasikas, he says of vedana: "...feelings based on the first four physical senses are always neutral." I can only assume that the author is correctly representing the Abhidhamma. (This is not a distinction I recall from the suttas, but that is a separate topic).

So, the common utterance, "that smells good," appears (per Abhidhamma) to be a mis-statement. So, how do I understand the Abhidamma statement correctly?

Perhaps once there is a "that" which smells good, the pleasant vedana is actually associated with a "next" contact -- contact with the mental objectof "that" -- as in "the sauce my Mom makes."
Or, is the pleasant vedana apparently associated with the smell itself, so relatively weak in comparison to the powerful range of vedana associated with tactile contact, that it is just relatively neutral-- and so characterized as neutral in the Abhidhamma?

Edit: Or does it only "smell pleasant" once there is an "I" who is smelling it -- again, the pleasantness is associated with the mental object of "I."
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

SarathW
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Re: Mmm, that smells good!

Post by SarathW »

This is a very interesting question. I have ask this question in many different ways in the past.
Eye.ear,nose and tongue does not have a Kahaya.That is why body (kahayanupassana) is used in Satipathana meditation.
However eye, ear,nose and tongue may have the subtle Rupa.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

char101
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Re: Mmm, that smells good!

Post by char101 »

The cittas that appear at the contact between sense object and the senses are ahetuka vipaka cittas (consciousness as result of past kamma, there are 15 of them). Ahetuka cittas are split into akusala vipaka citta (7 cittas) and kusala vipaka citta (8 citta). Of these ahetuka cittas that appear at the eye, ear, taste, and smell all are only associated with upekkha (indifference). Ahetuka cittas that appear at the body door is associated with sukha (pleasant feeling) or dukha (painful feeling). So the objects that appear at the senses other than the body are all perceived as neutral at the sensing state (phassa).

When do happiness associated with good objects appear then? I belive this appears upon the interpretation phase of the consciousness stream. It is step 9-15 on the list below. There is also somanassa sahagata santirana citta which I recall is the investigation over the sense object associated with happiness. This is exclusive to ahetuka kusala vipaka citta (that is why there are 8 ahetuka kusala vipaka citta while there are only 7 ahetuka akusala vipaka citta). This is because good kamma is more powerful than bad kamma.
1. A bhava"nga that flows by in a passive state when one of the five physical sense organs comes in contact with its object (atiita bhava"nga).
2. A bhava"nga that vibrates for one thought moment (bhava"nga calana).
3. A bhava"nga that cuts off the flow (bhava"nga upaccheda).
4. A citta that turns towards the object through the sense door that has been stimulated (pañcadvaara-vajjana).
5. The appropriate sense consciousness; in the case of the eye, for example, eye consciousness (cakkhu viññaa.na).
6. Next a thought moment — the sampa.ticchana citta — which has the function of receiving the object.
7. When the object has been received another thought moment, called the santiirana citta, arises, performing the function of investigating the object.
8. The act (kamma) itself, especially if it was a weighty one.
9 to 15. The object having been determined, the most important stage from an ethical standpoint follows. This stage, called javana, consists of seven consecutive thought moments all having an identical nature. It is at this stage that good or evil is done, depending on whether the cittas have wholesome or unwholesome roots. Therefore, these javana thought moments have roots and also produce new kamma.
16 and 17. Following the seventh javana the registering stage occurs, composed of two thought moments called tadaalambane. When the second registering citta has perished, the bhava"nga follows, flowing on until interrupted by another thought process.

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... html#citta
To sum it up: we don't feel pleasure or displeasure towards objects of the eye, ear, smell, or taste. We feel pleasure or displeasure towards our interpretation over these objects. Objects that feel as touching the body on the other hand do have associated pleasurable or painful feeling. This is what is called physical pain or physical pleasure.

JohnK
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Re: Mmm, that smells good!

Post by JohnK »

char101 wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 2:05 am
...
To sum it up: we don't feel pleasure or displeasure towards objects of the eye, ear, smell, or taste. We feel pleasure or displeasure towards our interpretation over these objects. Objects that feel as touching the body on the other hand do have associated pleasurable or painful feeling. This is what is called physical pain or physical pleasure.
Thank you for the detailed reply.
I will keep it in mind as I continue to read the book.
The idea that the pleasant or unpleasant vedana comes after the perception/recognition of the object does seem more typical -- for example, recognizing a "friend" vs. a "threatening person" -- the uninterpreted visual image having "neither." (Not so sure about some smells though.)
:anjali:
Those who grasp at perceptions & views wander the internet creating friction. [based on Sn4:9,v.847]

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