BlackBird wrote:Painful feelings bound up with the body and the Dukkha that we are trying to put an end to are two separate things. One couldn't argue that an arahant's body does not give off feelings that are painful. But honestly those painful feelings bound up with the body are irrelevant as they cause no anguish to the Arahant, they do not lead to craving that seeks to be seperated from the painful feeling, they do not lead to craving which seeks to distract one from the painful feeling. No, a painful feeling is experienced with utter equanimity by the arahant, exactly the same as he or she would experience a pleasant feeling or a neutral feeling - There is fundamentally no difference to the arahant. Quite unlike you and I.
The Arahant is free of dukkha.
I think the problem we* who study the dhamma, especially through suttas, have here is that dukkha
in the Buddha's day generally meant one thing -- it did get used to mean physical pain, and the way the body decays through sickness and death -- but in the very specific usage he applies to his particular teachings, it means something much narrower. I like your "anguish" (better than Thanissaro's "stress") because it indicates that it's something one generates oneself.
We all know that the Buddha redefined "karma" -- it's a famous example -- but what I am seeing is that he subtly redefined just about everything. But that there is a pattern, a clue to it provided in the texts, where he quite often defines the field (the where) first, and then goes on to point more and more specifically to what he wants us to see within that field. He starts by defining something the way it is most generally defined -- but this is just the "where" not the "what" -- and then gives more detail. This is the case with the bit reflection refers to:
"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress: Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful."
This is what he does with nutriment, also:
"There are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. From the origination of craving comes the origination of nutriment. From the cessation of craving comes the cessation of nutriment. And the way of practice leading to the cessation of nutriment is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
In the above, he does it at least twice, once defining nutriment, and once defining craving as it relates to nutriment. When we think about "nutriments for the maintenance of beings" of course food is the first thing anyone thinks of. And of course it is required for anything else to happen. But it's not the thing to be done away with. On the other hand, the more specific things to consider are how we make contact in the world, what we want to do in the world, and the way we are thinking about the world.
The second major word that is multi-leveled above is craving. Food becomes food through craving (otherwise it's just stuff growing nearby or animal carcasses), the sort of craving for existence that is natural and normal (food is a requisite, so there is nothing wrong with that very basic desire to eat to sustain life). But the craving he is talking about us needing to really understand is more difficult to see: it's what defines the type of contact he is discussing, what drives intention, what shapes our thoughts.
This style of speaking is found consistently throughout the suttas, and my argument is that it is through mistaking that first generalized definition -- the obvious -- for the Buddha defining what we are supposed to be concerned with, that we have come to believe he teaches literal rebirth, when it seems quite clear to me that he is just using a different style of speech -- a complex, elegant, delicate structure -- that needs to be recognized to be understood.
* With this "we" I am not saying you and/or I, Blackbird, in particular have this problem but "we" as a community.