Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.
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Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Postby starter » Sat Apr 30, 2011 9:24 pm

Dear Teachers/Friends,

While trying to contemplate the feelings, I was wondering if the teachings in MN 148 (should relinquish whatever pleasure) contradicts those in MN 139 (should pursue the pleasure of jhanas), and if we should pursue pleasure at all.

I just read MN 139 Araṇavibhanga Sutta (The Exposition of Non-Conflict) again and noticed that this sutta was delivered to those who hadn't obtained jhana yet. That's why the Buddha encouraged the abandonment of the five cords of sensual pleasure (low) and the pursuit of the high pleasure of jhana as an approach to developing higher states:

“Here, bhikkhus, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a bhikkhu enters upon and abides in the first jhāna…the second jhāna…the third jhāna…the fourth jhāna. This is called the bliss of renunciation, the bliss of seclusion, the bliss of peace, the bliss of enlightenment. I say of this kind of pleasure that it should be pursued, that it should be developed, that it should be cultivated, and that it should not be feared." [http://www.yellowrobe.com/component/content/article/120-majjhima-nikaya/281-araavibhanga-sutta-the-exposition-of-non-conflict.html]

But for those who have obtained the jhanas, I suppose they must abandon such pleasure in order to do vipasana and gain insight for final liberation.

I understand the usefulness of such an approach for many practitioners. But I'm thinking if it's better for us to develop higher states without "pursuing" the pleasure of such states at all (if we can). Of course we should develop jhana for obtaining tranquility and then insight, but we don't have to be after the pleasure of jhana, which must be abandoned later anyway. It's probably better to contemplate directly anicca-anatta / fading away / cessation / relinquishing of what ever bodily/physical feelings and mental/emotional feelings (pleasure/pain/neutral), as taught by the Buddha:

When concentration through mindfulness of in-&-out breathing is thus developed, thus pursued, then if he senses a feeling of pleasure, he discerns that it is inconstant, not grasped at, not relished. If he senses a feeling of pain, he discerns that it is inconstant, not grasped at, not relished. If he senses a feeling of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, he discerns that it is inconstant, not grasped at, not relished. If he senses a feeling of pleasure, he senses it disjoined from it. If he senses a feeling of pain, he senses it disjoined from it. If he senses a feeling of neither-pleasure-nor-pain, he senses it disjoined from it. When sensing a bodily feeling, he discerns that 'I am sensing a bodily feeling [limited to body].' When sensing a mental/psychological feeling [limited to life], he discerns that 'I am sensing a mental/psychological feeling.' He discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, everything that is experienced, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'

"Just as an oil lamp burns in dependence on oil & wick; and from the termination of the oil & wick — and from not being provided any other sustenance — it goes out unnourished; in the same way, when sensing a feeling limited to the body, he discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to the body.' When sensing a feeling limited to life, he discerns that 'I am sensing a feeling limited to life.' He discerns that 'With the break-up of the body, after the termination of life, everything that is sensed, not being relished, will grow cold right here.'" [http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html]

MN 148 Chachakka Sutta: The Six Sextets
...Dependent on the mind faculty & mind objects there arises consciousness at the mind faculty. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one does not relish it, welcome it, or remain fastened to it, then one's passion-obsession [liking] doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat one's breast or become distraught, then one's resistance-obsession [disliking] doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, & escape from that feeling, then one's ignorance-obsession [negligence] doesn't get obsessed. That a person — through abandoning passion-obsession [liking] with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing resistance-obsession [disliking] with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing — would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible. ...

Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with the eye ... mind faculty, disenchanted with forms ... mind objects, disenchanted with consciousness at the eye ... mind faculty, disenchanted with contact at the eye ... mind faculty, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with craving. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, 'Fully released.' He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.

Well, I tend to think that it's probably better not to pursue pleasure but only develop the higher states ...

What's your opinion on this?

Metta to all,

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby rowyourboat » Sun May 01, 2011 10:50 pm

Hi Starter,

Persuing pleasure.. and abandoning pleasure of the jhanas, sounds like a poor translation more than anything else. I think this is the Buddha simply saying do not worry about the pleasure in jhana. He is not saying to get attached to it, only to have to abandon it later. He has instructed monks to stay away from sensual pleasure, so he has to counter-point it by stating that however the pleasure of jhana (niramisa sukha) is not a problem, as the jhanas are highly conducive to the practice (right cocentration). In any case if a person obtain pre-jhanic samadhi even, some degree of pleasure is unavoidable. Maybe useful to see if there is aversion to pleasure, generally.

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby IanAnd » Mon May 02, 2011 7:52 am

MN 36 Mahasaccaka Sutta
The Greater Discourse to Saccaka
Translated from the Pali by Ñanamoli Thera & Bhikkhu Bodhi

31. "I considered: 'I recall that when my father the Sakyan was occupied, while I was sitting in the cool shade of a rose-apple tree, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, I entered upon and abided in the first jhana, which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born of seclusion.[389] Could that be the path to enlightenment?' Then, following on that memory, came the realization: 'That is the path to enlightenment.'
32. "I thought: 'Why am I afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states?' I thought: 'I am not afraid of that pleasure since it has nothing to do with sensual pleasures and unwholesome states.'[390]

Footnote (from Majjhima Nikaya, The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Publications)
390. This passage marks a change in the Bodhisatta's evaluation of pleasure; now it is no longer regarded as something to be feared and banished by the practice of austerities, but, when born of seclusion and detachment, is seen as a valuable accompaniment of the higher stages along the path to enlightenment. See MN 139.9 on the twofold division of pleasure.
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby starter » Tue May 03, 2011 7:12 pm

Hello Matheesha and IanAnd,

Many thanks for your helpful comments. I've realized that I misunderstood the teachings in MN 148. It's not that we should relinquish whatever pleasure (or pain or neutral feeling), but that we should relinquishing the attachment to the pleasure (or pain or neutral feeling), by sensing it disjoined from it -- contemplating and realizing it's anicca. I've also realized that it's not that we shouldn't have mental/psychological feelings at all, but that we should not delight or sorrow or ignore such feelings, and shouldn't be obsessed by passion-obsession, resistance-obsession or ignorance-obsession and should abandon these obsessions (not feelings).

I'm still a bit confused about upekka. I thought in the 3rd jhana the (primary) mental feelings of pleasure and pain disappear and in the 4th jhana the bodily feelings also disappear. If so, then we still need to reach the stage without mental feelings? Or the arahants still have both (primary) mental and bodily feelings but they don't have the secondary mental feelings -- delight/sorrow in such primary feelings?

Your comments and advice would be very much appreciated. Metta to all,

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby Kenshou » Tue May 03, 2011 8:03 pm

starter wrote:I'm still a bit confused about upekka. I thought in the 3rd jhana the (primary) mental feelings of pleasure and pain disappear and in the 4th jhana the bodily feelings also disappear.
Well not quite. The 3rd jhana still has the factor of sukha (pleasure, etc.), it is piti (joy) that is absent in the 3rd. And when that remaining sukha also ends, that brings us to the 4th jhana. But even then it's not that there is no feeling, no vedana, there is still the feeling of equanimity. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

If so, then we still need to reach the stage without mental feelings? Or the arahants still have both (primary) mental and bodily feelings but they don't have the secondary mental feelings -- delight/sorrow in such primary feelings?
Do you mean this sort of thing? http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html I think your second sentence is correct. Abolishing all mental vedana is not necessary. Just the "second arrow", what you've called "secondary mental feeling".

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby starter » Wed May 04, 2011 12:49 am

Hi Kenshou,

Thanks for your very helpful comments and links.

"And furthermore, with the fading of rapture, he remains equanimous, mindful, & alert, and senses pleasure with the body. He enters & remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.'
-- Sukhha is considered a bodily pleasure. On the 3rd jhana "he" already remains [mentally/psychologically] equanimous without elation or distress.

"But in the case of a well-taught noble disciple, O monks, when he is touched by a painful feeling, he will not worry nor grieve and lament, he will not beat his breast and weep, nor will he be distraught. It is one kind of feeling he experiences, a bodily one, but not a mental feeling. It is as if a man were pierced by a dart, but was not hit by a second dart following the first one."
-- In SN 36.6 [Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow] the Buddha actually only mentioned the bodily feeling as the 1st arrow, and mental feeling as the 2nd arrow. He didn't at all mention the primary mental feeling as the 1st arrow and the secondary mental feeling as the 2nd arrow.

"If so, then we still need to reach the stage without mental feelings (of pleasure and pain)? Or the arahants still have both (primary) mental and bodily feelings but they don't have the secondary mental feelings -- delight/sorrow in such primary feelings?"
-- If judging from the two suttas you kindly provided, the arahants seem to have only bodily pain but not mental sorrow as the 2nd arrow.

However, if judging from MN 148 Chachakka Sutta: The Six Sextets
"...Dependent on the mind faculty & mind objects there arises consciousness at the mind faculty. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain... If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat one's breast or become distraught, then one's resistance-obsession [disliking] doesn't get obsessed ... That a person — through abandoning passion-obsession [liking] with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing resistance-obsession [disliking] with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing — would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible. ... "
-- There seems to be the "primary" mental feeling of pain as the 1st arrow and sorrow as the 2nd for the trainers, who will be able to end all suffering and stress including the primary mental pain?

Are there other relevant suttas for further clarification? I'm interested because it's relevant to our understanding of arahants and conviction in their teachings...

Metta to all,

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby Kenshou » Wed May 04, 2011 2:09 am

starter wrote:-- Sukhha is considered a bodily pleasure. On the 3rd jhana "he" already remains [mentally/psychologically] equanimous without elation or distress.
Oh, yeah, you're right, I didn't notice that you were making a distinction between bodily and mental pleasure in your last post.

Anyway, the gist of your question is whether arahants still experience unpleasant mental feelings? I can't recall a sutta that explicitly states whether they do or not.

On one hand, I think that unpleasant vedana are not necessarily suffering in of themselves. It is possible to find something unpleasant without suffering over it, it's when we resist and get upset about it that there is suffering.

But maybe not, hopefully someone who knows a source will pop in.

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby ground » Wed May 04, 2011 2:28 am

starter wrote:What's your opinion on this?


I think that this topic is misplaced in "Meditation (Vipassana techniques)". If this would not be the case then any topic referring to the 8fold path may be discussed here.

Kind regards

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby Freawaru » Wed May 04, 2011 10:05 am

starter wrote:
Are there other relevant suttas for further clarification? I'm interested because it's relevant to our understanding of arahants and conviction in their teachings...

Metta to all,

Starter


Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka:

Pleasant feeling:

"So when I had taken solid food and regained strength, then — quite secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful mental qualities, I entered & remained in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born from seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the stilling of directed thoughts & evaluations, I entered & remained in the second jhana: rapture & pleasure born of concentration, unification of awareness free from directed thought & evaluation — internal assurance. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the fading of rapture I remained equanimous, mindful, & alert, and sensed pleasure with the body. I entered & remained in the third jhana, of which the noble ones declare, 'Equanimous & mindful, he has a pleasant abiding.' But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain. With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


painful feeling:

"I thought: 'Suppose that I, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, were to beat down, constrain, & crush my mind with my awareness.' So, clenching my teeth and pressing my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I beat down, constrained, & crushed my mind with my awareness. Just as a strong man, seizing a weaker man by the head or the throat or the shoulders, would beat him down, constrain, & crush him, in the same way I beat down, constrained, & crushed my mind with my awareness. As I did so, sweat poured from my armpits. And although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established, my body was aroused & uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"I thought: 'Suppose I were to become absorbed in the trance of non-breathing.' So I stopped the in-breaths & out-breaths in my nose & mouth. As I did so, there was a loud roaring of winds coming out my earholes, just like the loud roar of winds coming out of a smith's bellows... So I stopped the in-breaths & out-breaths in my nose & mouth & ears. As I did so, extreme forces sliced through my head, just as if a strong man were slicing my head open with a sharp sword... Extreme pains arose in my head, just as if a strong man were tightening a turban made of tough leather straps around my head... Extreme forces carved up my stomach cavity, just as if a butcher or his apprentice were to carve up the stomach cavity of an ox... There was an extreme burning in my body, just as if two strong men, grabbing a weaker man by the arms, were to roast & broil him over a pit of hot embers. And although tireless persistence was aroused in me, and unmuddled mindfulness established, my body was aroused & uncalm because of the painful exertion. But the painful feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Should we better not pursue pleasure?

Postby starter » Wed May 04, 2011 4:58 pm

Hello Freawaru,

Your input is much appreciated. Both suttas appear to indicate that the bodily feeling of pleasure or pain didn't cause mental feeling of pleasure or pain. But the 1st sutta mentioned "the pleasant feeling" that arose in the 4th jhana after the disappearance of both bodily and mental pleasure (elation)/pain (distress):

With the abandoning of pleasure & pain — as with the earlier disappearance of elation & distress — I entered & remained in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

It's probably a matter of translation. "The pleasant feeling" in the 4th jhana probably just means the feeling of tranquility.

As to Mingyur's comment "I think that this topic is misplaced in "Meditation (Vipassana techniques)". If this would not be the case then any topic referring to the 8fold path may be discussed here":
-- I don't mind having this thread moved to whatever subforum which the moderator decides more fit. I was only thinking that the contemplation of feelings and the understanding of different types of feelings seem to belong to insight. Of course it all depends on how one interpret vipassana.

Thanks and metta,

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Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Postby starter » Wed May 04, 2011 5:47 pm

Hm ... just to add that it might not be wrong to relinquish the primary mental feelings of elation and distress caused by sensuality if we can, since the practice of the sense restraints and dis-joining sense objects from the mind all appear to aim at minimizing/relinquishing mental feelings of elation and distress caused by sensuality (which might be even more effective in ending the assavas than the contemplation of feelings): with the cessation of contact comes the cessation of feelings. The contemplation of feelings can be done after our failure at the sense door, I suppose.

However, the gladness (pāmojja), rapture (pīti)and pleasure (sukha) that are path factors shouldn't be feared or relinquished, neither should they be attached to as I understand.

Metta to all,

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Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Postby meindzai » Wed May 04, 2011 8:12 pm

Jhanic pleasure is better than sensual pleasure (food wine and women), but not as good as just dropping all of those in favor of Nibanna, and you can get too attached to any of them. It's kind of a step latter. That is my brief and crude take on the subject. Apologies if it is overly so.

-M

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Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Postby bodom » Wed May 04, 2011 10:30 pm

meindzai wrote:Jhanic pleasure is better than sensual pleasure (food wine and women), but not as good as just dropping all of those in favor of Nibanna, and you can get too attached to any of them. It's kind of a step latter. That is my brief and crude take on the subject. Apologies if it is overly so.

-M


Better simplified than complicated.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: How to contemplate feelings?

Postby starter » Sat May 14, 2011 4:55 pm

Hm ... would like to share with you my new understanding about the contemplation of neutral feeling. It's not only about abandoning negligence, but also about abandoning the attachment to and delusion by the neutral feeling. While fighting with the defilements like greed and aversion, we could easily become content and attached to the neutral feeling, or even identify such neutral feeling as nibbana. Therefore such ignorance obsession should be abandoned as well in addition to liking and disliking.

Metta to all,

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