Thanks for taking the time to reply.
Sylvester wrote:About kāmā
SN 47.6 (S v 146) differentiates between the kāmaguṇa-s and the four satipaṭṭhāna-s. It's worth remembering in this regard that the contemplation of the body satipaṭṭhāna includes objects of contemplation such as mindfulness of breathing, the foul parts of the body, and the stages of corpse decomposition. In light of this differentiation, the body, the tactile sensations associated with the breath, the 32 parts of the body, and the stages of corpse decomposition are not considered to be “strings of sensuality.” SN 47.6:
[Y]ou should not wander into what is not your proper range and is the territory of others. In one who wanders into what is not his proper range and is the territory of others, Mara gains an opening, Mara gains a foothold. And what, for a monk, is not his proper range and is the territory of others? The five strands of sensuality. Which five? Forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. Sounds cognizable by the ear... Aromas cognizable by the nose... Flavors cognizable by the tongue... Tactile sensations cognizable by the body — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, fostering desire, enticing. These, for a monk, are not his proper range and are the territory of others.
Wander, monks, in what is your proper range, your own ancestral territory. In one who wanders in what is his proper range, his own ancestral territory, Mara gains no opening, Mara gains no foothold. And what, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory? The four frames of reference. Which four? There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. This, for a monk, is his proper range, his own ancestral territory.
Surely you wouldn’t suggest that one must be isolated from the five sensory spheres in order to engage in kāyānupassanā?
Sylvester wrote:So it does not make any sense to me to speak of a pleasant or attractive guna as if a guna could be limited by an adjective; only the response will reveal itself to be such or otherwise.
This falls in neatly with the Vipallasa Sutta, AN 4.49 which identifies as a vipallasa the identification of something “not attractive” (asubha) as being “attractive” (subha). Without any objective “attractiveness” to speak of, an observer will still add on the perception of “attractiveness” to the kamaguna.
What constitutes a kāmaguṇa is subjective, based on the apperception of the observer.
Sylvester wrote:Which leads to the question – are there neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant feelings connected to the kamagunas in Jhana? I would suggest that those who assert suffusing the “body” (as in the physical body) with the bliss and pleasure of Jhana would have to overcome the Mahaniddana Sutta’s allowance for only one type of feeling at a time. You can’t assert neutral “bodily” feelings concurrently with “bodily” bliss and pleasure.
You’re missing the distinction between carnal and non-carnal rapture and pleasure (sāmisā pīti & sukha vs. nirāmisā pīti & sukha) [SN 36.31]. And in case you’re going to suggest that non-carnal rapture and pleasure cannot be experienced via the five sense spheres, I’ll refer you to the DN 22 commentary.
Sylvester wrote:I think it is more plausible to read the rupasanna, patighasanna and nanattasanna as conceptions or ideas of anything that has to do with materiality, rather than apperception of form etc. Rupa, patigha and nanatta all involve rupa and its interaction with the indriyas, which in itself the “thing” that defines and delimits space. “Infinite space” as a conceptual category would be untouched by anything, including conceptions, pertaining to form.
AN 9.42: apperception of form (rūpasaññā) is present in the fourth jhāna. I see no good reason to interpret this as “conceptions” of form or “memories” of form, etc. Any such adventitious conceptions and memories that do not pertain to what is being immediately experienced in the fourth jhāna would be an obstacle to the highly refined samādhi of this jhāna.
Sylvester wrote:I’m afraid I can’t agree with your reading of AN 9.37. While Ven Ananda cites the 3 Arupa Attainment as examples of the phenomena “where the eye will be, and forms, and yet one will not be sensitive to that dimension”, there is nothing in there to suggest that these 3 Attainments exhaust the field of the general proposition made by Ven Ananda regarding insensitivity to “that” dimension. The first paragraph was a general axiom, followed by 3 examples but no suggestion that the 3 were exhaustive.
Actually Ven. Ānanda gives four meditative states: the three formless apperception attainments and aññāphala samādhi. Given the importance of the four jhāna-s to the integral eightfold path of the sutta-s, if the jhāna-s were definable in such terms, then this sutta would have included them.
Sylvester wrote:But I cannot help but wonder why we need to insist on reading “kayika” in the pleasure, pain and equanimity faculties as “bodily” (as in the physical body).
Because SN 48.37 expressly differentiates between kāyika/cetasika and kāyosamphassa/manosamphassa with regard to the feeling faculties.
All the best,