The Connected Discourses of the Buddha - Selections

Chapter 36. Vedanāsaṃyutta: Connected Discourses on Feeling

I. With Verses

1 (1) Concentration
“Bhikkhus, there are these three feelings. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. These are the three feelings.”

A disciple of the Buddha, mindful,
Concentrated, comprehending clearly,
Understands feelings
And the origin of feelings,
Where they finally cease,
And the path leading to their destruction.
With the destruction of feelings
A bhikkhu is hungerless and fully quenched.

2 (2) Pleasure
“Bhikkhus, there are these three feelings. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. These are the three feelings.” [205]

Whether it be pleasant or painful
Along with the neither-painful-nor-pleasant,
Both the internal and the external,
Whatever kind of feeling there is:
Having known, “This is suffering,
Perishable, disintegrating,”
Having touched and touched them, seeing their fall,
Thus one loses one’s passion for them.

3 (3) Abandonment
“Bhikkhus, there are these three feelings. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to lust should be abandoned in regard to pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to aversion should be abandoned in regard to painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance should be abandoned in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.
    “When, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu has abandoned the underlying tendency to lust in regard to pleasant feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion in regard to painful feeling, and the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, then he is called a bhikkhu without underlying tendencies, one who sees rightly. He has cut off craving, severed the fetters, and by completely breaking through conceit, he has made an end to suffering.”

When one experiences pleasure,
If one does not understand feeling
The tendency to lust is present
For one not seeing the escape from it.

When one experiences pain,
If one does not understand feeling
The tendency to aversion is present
For one not seeing the escape from it.

The One of Broad Wisdom has taught
With reference to that peaceful feeling,
Neither-painful-nor-pleasant:
If one seeks delight even in this,
One is still not released from suffering. [206]

But when a bhikkhu who is ardent
Does not neglect clear comprehension,
Then that wise man fully understands
Feelings in their entirety.
Having fully understood feelings,
He is taintless in this very life.
Standing in Dhamma, with the body’s breakup
The knowledge-master cannot be reckoned.

4 (4) The Bottomless Abyss
“Bhikkhus, when the uninstructed worldling makes the statement, ‘In the great ocean there is a bottomless abyss,’ he makes such a statement about something that is nonexistent and unreal. This, bhikkhus, is rather a designation for painful bodily feelings, that is, ‘bottomless abyss.’
    “When the uninstructed worldling is contacted by a painful bodily feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and laments; he weeps and beats his breast and becomes distraught. This is called an uninstructed worldling who has not risen up in the bottomless abyss, one who has not gained a foothold.
    “But, bhikkhus, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful bodily feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament; he does not weep and beat his breast and become distraught. This is called an instructed noble disciple who has risen up in the bottomless abyss, one who has gained a foothold.”

One who cannot endure
The arisen painful feelings,
Bodily feelings that sap one’s life,
Who trembles when they touch him,
A weakling of little strength
Who weeps out loud and wails:
He has not risen up in the bottomless abyss,
Nor has he even gained a foothold. [207]

But one who is able to endure them—
The arisen painful feelings,
Bodily feelings that sap one’s life—
Who trembles not when they touch him:
He has risen up in the bottomless abyss,
And he has also gained a foothold.

5 (5) Should Be Seen
“Bhikkhus, there are these three feelings. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Pleasant feeling, bhikkhus, should be seen as painful; painful feeling should be seen as a dart; neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling should be seen as impermanent.
    “When, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu has seen pleasant feeling as painful, painful feeling as a dart, and neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling as impermanent, he is called a bhikkhu who sees rightly. He has cut off craving, severed the fetters, and by completely breaking through conceit, he has made an end to suffering.”

One who has seen the pleasant as painful
And the painful as a dart,
Seen as impermanent the peaceful feeling
Neither painful nor pleasant:
He is a bhikkhu who sees rightly,
One who fully understands feelings.

Having fully understood feelings,
He is taintless in this very life.
Standing in Dhamma, with the body’s breakup
The knowledge-master cannot be reckoned.

6 (6) The Dart
“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling feels a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. The instructed noble disciple too feels a pleasant feeling, [208] a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Therein, bhikkhus, what is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed worldling?”
    “Venerable sir, our teachings are rooted in the Blessed One, guided by the Blessed One, take recourse in the Blessed One. It would be good if the Blessed One would clear up the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.”
    “Then listen and attend closely, bhikkhus, I will speak.”
    “Yes, venerable sir,” the bhikkhus replied. The Blessed One said this:
    “Bhikkhus, when the uninstructed worldling is being contacted by a painful feeling, he sorrows, grieves, and laments; he weeps beating his breast and becomes distraught. He feels two feelings—a bodily one and a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, and then they would strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by two darts. So too, when the uninstructed worldling is being contacted by a painful feeling … he feels two feelings—a bodily one and a mental one.
    “Being contacted by that same painful feeling, he harbours aversion towards it. When he harbours aversion towards painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling lies behind this. Being contacted by painful feeling, he seeks delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the uninstructed worldling does not know of any escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure. When he seeks delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling lies behind this. He does not understand as it really is the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. When he does not understand these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling lies behind this.
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it attached. [209] If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it attached. This, bhikkhus, is called an uninstructed worldling who is attached to birth, aging, and death; who is attached to sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is attached to suffering, I say.
    “Bhikkhus, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament; he does not weep beating his breast and become distraught. He feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, but they would not strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by one dart only. So too, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling … he feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one.
    “Being contacted by that same painful feeling, he harbours no aversion towards it. Since he harbours no aversion towards painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling does not lie behind this. Being contacted by painful feeling, he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the instructed noble disciple knows of an escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure. Since he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling does not lie behind this. He understands as it really is the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. Since he understands these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling does not lie behind this.
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a painful feeling, [210] he feels it detached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. This, bhikkhus, is called a noble disciple who is detached from birth, aging, and death; who is detached from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is detached from suffering, I say.
    “This, bhikkhus, is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed worldling.”

The wise one, learned, does not feel
The pleasant and painful [mental] feeling.
This is the great difference between
The wise one and the worldling.

For the learned one who has comprehended Dhamma,
Who clearly sees this world and the next,
Desirable things do not provoke his mind,
Towards the undesired he has no aversion.

For him attraction and repulsion no more exist;
Both have been extinguished, brought to an end.
Having known the dust-free, sorrowless state,
The transcender of existence rightly understands.

7 (7) The Sick Ward (1)
On one occasion the Blessed One was dwelling at Vesālī in the Great Wood in the Hall with the Peaked Roof. Then, in the evening, the Blessed One emerged from seclusion and went to the sick ward, where he sat down in the appointed seat and addressed the bhikkhus thus: [211]
    “Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu should await his time mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you.
    “And how, bhikkhus, is a bhikkhu mindful? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having put away covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings … mind in mind … phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having put away covetousness and displeasure in regard to the world. It is in such a way that a bhikkhu is mindful.
    “And how, bhikkhus, does a bhikkhu exercise clear comprehension? Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu is one who acts with clear comprehension when going forward and returning; when looking ahead and looking aside; when drawing in and extending the limbs; when wearing his robes and carrying his outer robe and bowl; when eating, drinking, chewing his food, and tasting; when defecating and urinating; when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, speaking, and keeping silent. It is in such a way that a bhikkhu exercises clear comprehension.
    “A bhikkhu should await his time mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on this very body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a body that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in the body and in pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, [212] the underlying tendency to lust in regard to the body and in regard to pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a painful feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a painful feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the painful feeling has arisen in dependence on a body that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in the body and in painful feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to aversion in regard to the body and in regard to painful feeling is abandoned by him.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this body. But this body is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a body that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in the body and in neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to the body and in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling is abandoned by him. [213]
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a painful feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’ If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands: ‘It is impermanent’; he understands: ‘It is not held to’; he understands: ‘It is not delighted in.’
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached; if he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached.
    “When he feels a feeling terminating with the body, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with the body.’ When he feels a feeling terminating with life, he understands: ‘I feel a feeling terminating with life.’ He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’
    “Just as, bhikkhus, an oil lamp burns in dependence on the oil and the wick, and with the exhaustion of the oil and the wick it is extinguished through lack of fuel, so too, bhikkhus, when a bhikkhu feels a feeling terminating with the body … terminating with life … He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’”

8 (8) The Sick Ward (2)
(As in preceding sutta down to the second injunction: ) [214]
    “A bhikkhu should await his time mindful and clearly comprehending. This is our instruction to you.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in contact and in pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to lust in regard to contact and in regard to pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a painful feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a painful feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the painful feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in contact and in painful feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to aversion in regard to contact and in regard to painful feeling is abandoned by him.
    “Bhikkhus, while a bhikkhu dwells thus, mindful and clearly comprehending, diligent, ardent, and resolute, if there arises in him a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he understands thus: ‘There has arisen in me a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Now that is dependent, not independent. Dependent on what? Dependent on just this contact. But this contact is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen. So when the neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling has arisen in dependence on a contact that is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, how could it be permanent?’ He dwells contemplating impermanence in contact and in neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he dwells contemplating vanishing, contemplating fading away, contemplating cessation, contemplating relinquishment. As he dwells thus, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to contact and in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling is abandoned by him.
    “If he feels a pleasant feeling … (all as in preceding sutta) … He understands: ‘With the breakup of the body, following the exhaustion of life, all that is felt, not being delighted in, will become cool right here.’”

9 (9) Impermanent
“Bhikkhus, these three feelings are impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, subject to vanishing, subject to fading away, subject to cessation. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. These three feelings are impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, subject to vanishing, subject to fading away, subject to cessation.” [215]

10 (10) Rooted in Contact
“Bhikkhus, these three feelings are born of contact, rooted in contact, with contact as their source and condition. What three? Pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.
    “In dependence on a contact to be experienced as pleasant, bhikkhus, a pleasant feeling arises. With the cessation of that contact to be experienced as pleasant, the corresponding feeling—the pleasant feeling that arose in dependence on that contact to be experienced as pleasant—ceases and subsides.
    “In dependence on a contact to be experienced as painful, a painful feeling arises. With the cessation of that contact to be experienced as painful, the corresponding feeling—the painful feeling that arose in dependence on that contact to be experienced as painful—ceases and subsides.
    “In dependence on a contact to be experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant, a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling arises. With the cessation of that contact to be experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant, the corresponding feeling—the neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling that arose in dependence on that contact to be experienced as neither-painful-nor-pleasant—ceases and subsides.
    “Bhikkhus, just as heat is generated and fire is produced from the conjunction and friction of two fire-sticks, but when the sticks are separated and laid aside the resultant heat ceases and subsides; so too, these three feelings are born of contact, rooted in contact, with contact as their source and condition. In dependence on the appropriate contacts the corresponding feelings arise; with the cessation of the appropriate contacts the corresponding feelings cease.”
 

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© Bhikkhu Bodhi, The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Wisdom Publications, 2000)

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