starter wrote:MN 118: "On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — close attention to in-&-out breaths [feeling the rapture and pleasure while breathing?] — is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in & of themselves."
How to interpret close attention to in-&-out breaths [feeling the rapture and pleasure while breathing?] which is classed as a feeling?
The phrase is "assāsapassāsānaṃ sādhukaṃ manasikāraṃ", lit: "proper mental attention towards the in and out breaths". It is explained in the commentary at some length:
"proper mental attention" should be understood thus:
sādhukaṃ manasikāra nti pītipaṭisaṃveditādivasena uppannaṃ sundaramanasikāraṃ. kiṃ pana manasikāro sukhavedanā hotīti. na hoti, desanāsīsaṃ panetaṃ. yatheva hi "aniccasaññābhāvanānuyogamanuyuttā" "ti ettha saññānāmena paññā vuttā, evamidhāpi manasikāranāmena vedanā vuttāti veditabbā.
"through the influence of the experience of rapture, there arises good mental attention. 'What, so is mental attention the pleasant feeling?' It is not, but that is merely the head of the exposition. Just as, for example, in 'aniccasaññābhāvanānuyogamanuyuttā', wisdom is spoken of by the name of recognition, thus, here too, feeling is called by the name of mental attention."
In that group of four, in the first pada, feeling is spoken of by the head of rapture; in the second pada it is spoken of as 'pleasure' in the same way; in the pair of padas on mental formations, with the words "the recognition and feeling mental factors, these dhammas are bound to the mind, formations of the mind", with the words "putting aside vitakka and vicaara, all other dhammas associated with the mind are grouped together in mental formations", feeling is spoken of by name of mental formations. Having grouped all that by the name of mental attention, here "proper mental attention" is said.
etasmiṃ catukke paṭhamapade pītisīsena vedanā vuttā, dutiyapade sukhanti sarūpeneva vuttā. cittasaṅkhārapadadvaye "saññā ca vedanā ca cetasikā, ete dhammā cittapaṭibaddhā cittasaṅkhārā" "ti (paṭi0 ma0 1.174) vacanato "vitakkavicāre ṭhapetvā sabbepi cittasampayuttakā dhammā cittasaṅkhāre saṅgahitā" "ti vacanato cittasaṅkhāranāmena vedanā vuttā. taṃ sabbaṃ manasikāranāmena saṅgahetvā idha "sādhukaṃ manasikāra "nti āha.
I think the important point here is that "vedana" is that which experiences (vedayati) the object. Mental attention is that which allows the experience of the object, and so is associated with vedana.
Hope that helps.