Do we really experience only one kind of feeling at a time?

In DN 15:28.7 = MN 74:10.1 we find the following argument.

At a time when you feel a pleasant feeling, you don’t feel a painful or neutral feeling; you only feel a pleasant feeling. At a time when you feel a painful feeling, you don’t feel a pleasant or neutral feeling; you only feel a painful feeling. At a time when you feel a neutral feeling, you don’t feel a pleasant or painful feeling; you only feel a neutral feeling.

The idea that only one kind of feeling can be experienced at a time became an oft-repeated adage of Buddhist psychology, but it is not empirically obvious that it is the case. One can, for example, enjoy the taste of cake while feeling guilty about eating it; or experience meditative bliss while also feeling sharp back pain. In fact it seems to me that it’s usually the case that we experience a mix of feelings, and only in exceptional moments is it all pain or all pleasure.

How is it that the suttas teach something that seems so disconnected from experience?

This is usually explained with the theory of momentariness: each occurrence of feeling lasts but a moment, so when we seem to be experiencing a mix of feelings, it is really a rapid oscillation between different types.

The problem with this explanation is that there is no theory of momentariness in the suttas. Perhaps it could be argued that this passage suggests that such a theory is implied. The problem then is the context: this argument is only presented twice, and in both times as part of an argument with a non-Buddhist (in MN 74 this is Dīghanakha, and in DN 15 it is a hypothetical). Even if it were the case that the Abhidhammic system of mind moments were current in the suttas, it is unreasonable to suppose that non-Buddhists were familiar with it or accepted it.

Moreover, the commentaries to these two passages say nothing about momentariness, and don’t really seem to recognize the problem. Bhikkhu Bodhi doesn’t comment on this issue in his translations, and in fact I can’t find anywhere that discusses the problem.

On the contrary, the Buddha’s method of argument was to start with something that was easily apparent so that they would have a shared basis with the person they are discussing with. Thus he begins by establishing that there are three feelings. These are things that are readily apparent in experience.

If we think of the mind in a modern sense, as being correlated with a complex network of interrelated brain functions, it is easy to imagine that there are multiple conflicting feelings. The brain is not instantaneous; it takes time for things to propagate, and many different things are going on at the same time. And it seems to me that the mind is the same: feelings are a complex web.

Might it be a sectarian argument? Analayo says that of the parallels to MN 74, SA 969 says nothing of exclusiveness and instead points to the conditionality of feelings. However, versions found in the Tibetan Pravajravastu and Sanskrit and Tibetan versions of the Avadānaśātaka agree with the Pali in talking of exclusiveness. It’s notable that these are later texts. I can’t find a relevant study of DN 15, but a cursory glance at the Chinese parallels suggests that at least some of them have the exclusivity argument.

If it is a later insertion, then, it seems to be a widespread one which represents an understanding of feelings that is broader than just one school.

It all leaves me feeling rather uneasy—how can such a basic teaching be so in conflict with experience? But at the same time, kind of excited—perhaps the apparent conflict might lead to a deeper understanding. I just seem to have all of these feelings going on at the same time!

Is there a way of understanding that resolves this issue? It will have to be one that does not depend on Abhidhamma or on any subtle philosophy or psychology. It has to be something that is obvious enough to serve as an axiom in an argument with someone who is not a Buddhist. And I have to admit, I can’t see it.


My interpretation os that the terms aren’t so much “pleasant painful and neutral” as “good bad and indifferent” in that the vedana is not so much a “feeling” as it is an assesment, not of any individual sensation but of our relation to an experience as a whole, so its like a categorisation into positive, negative and neutral, and the argument is basically arithmetic or logical: a positive number is positive and not zero or negative, etc, theres no overlap.

So basically we read phassa not as a particular sensation but as a gestalt, lile a whole sensual experience, and we read vedana as liking it or loathing it which underwites the thana of seekimg more of “it”

Like its not “what” we’re feeling, its how were feeling “about” it.


Greetings Bhante :slightly_smiling_face:

Perhaps being aware of the arisen feeling is to do with attention.

There may be multiple feelings associated with an experience/object, and one can be aware of all of them by focusing or placing attention on each aspect. As one surveys all the aspects of the experience/object different feelings will arise and cease depending on what aspect one has focused on, delicious eating or guilt, or bliss or pain in the back. However, I’d say that you can’t experience them simultaneously. When i focus on the happy parts i feel pleasant feeling, when i focus on the dukkha parts i feel unpleasant feeling. I don’t think i can actually feel/experience the unpleasant while attention is engaged in the pleasant. But i can shift/manipulate it, depending on where i focus. I can turn a pleasant feeling into an unpleasant one (even with the same object) just by focusing on a different aspect…

Shifting focus on purpose is skillful means, which illustrates how perception works… feeling doesn’t arise without causes, and the role of attention is pivotal. In your example of meditation bliss and backpain, one would purposefully keep attention on the bliss until the backpain was no longer perceived. If the backpain is so great that the bodily sensations demand attention, then the feeling experienced will be unpleasant. If it is in the ‘in between’ zone then it might be that attention oscillates … but too much oscillation of attention will make it impossible to stay absorbed, and one will be bounced around by whichever aspect gets most attention. I find it inspiring to see how with the taming of the mind, the taming of attention one can have agency and not be a simple slave to conditions.

Just drawing attention to another perspective :slightly_smiling_face: :pray: :sunflower:


Perhaps, as has been hinted at in the previous comments, it is about the instance of pain, pleasure, or neutral. At the moment that we feel a sensation, the feeling can’t be split into three different components. Pain is pain, pleasure is pleasure and no sensation is no sensation. We can’t feel all three at the same time in the same context. The pain in my back is not blissful. If it goes away, then the pain has subsided, or become neither pain nor bliss.

I hope you find this answer helpful.

According to SN 22.82 (= SA 58), an individual body-and-mind component (i.e. the five aggregates) also has the experience or feeling of ease-and-joy (sukhaṃ somanassaṃ). This is the flavour (assāda) of life. Nevertheless, the feeling of ease-and-joy is also anicca, dukkha, the unstable nature (vipariṇāma-dhammam).

Hmm, okay, but that doesn’t really address the case of contact and feeling arising in different senses, where it is clearly not a gestalt but quite different things.

I feel like this is the meditator’s version of the same argument of the Abhidhammika. It’s not really mixed, it just seems like it’s mixed, and if you look at it more closely you’ll see that.

Again, this might be plausible if we were talking about instructions for advanced vipassana. But we’re not: we’re talking about establishing a common ground on something plainly apparent with someone who is not even a Buddhist. Not to put to fine a point on it, but I’ve been meditating for nearly 30 years and it isn’t obvious to me. This point always seemed a bit dubious, but I set it aside thinking that I’d get it sooner or later. Now I’m beginning to wonder whether the problem is me.

Also, if we shift the question from “feeling” to “attention” I’m not sure that gains us anything. Let’s limit it to just visual perception. Normally we tend to focus on one main thing at the center of our vision, while other things are vaguer and in the periphery. But they’re not absent. I can tell the difference between seeing one thing in the middle of a field of other things, and just seeing one thing and nothing else.

Even a basic thing like a computer can run multiple tasks simultaneously. If a chip can multithread, why can’t the mind? There’s a reason why chips have multiple cores: it’s hella more efficient. Otherwise you just get stuck on things all the time.

I’m not convinced this is true, but leaving that aside, it adds an extra constraint not found in the text. It doesn’t say, “you can’t feel two different instances of the same kind of feeling at the same time”, it says, “you can’t feel two different feelings at the same time”.


that’s an excellent point. however I still think my broader argument stands, if it’s not the feeling itself, but rather the categorization of the feeling into desirable or undesirable or neither that counts, then there isn’t a problem, whatever arisen sensation there is, if we are motivated to go chasing after it then it is sukhā vedanā if we are motivated to avoid it it’s dukkhā vedanā and if the sensation has no motivational consequence, i.e it’s a neutral or indifferent sensation then it’s adukkhamasukhā vedanā.


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Feelings are like a simultaneous bar graph of emotions. Some moments of feelings can even stretch out for years until we fully process each single feeling into dissolution or extinction as an event horizon annihilates each long or short moment for the next moment to come in a temporary stance of impermanent nature, and the feeling associated with that one, until the next event horizon annihilates that one. Because some moments, being they Perfectly good, even last forever. You know that saying. Don’t consider it “Eternalist” jargon, but something that may set you free.

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Well this provision rather complicates things, as what we’re talking about isn’t really totally obvious unless someone has a least some mindfulness and skill with observing the arising and ceasing of feelings.

Rather than answering directly, let me take an oblique angle on this using your example of eating cake and of perceptions both of relishing in the deliciousness as well as guilt in having relished in the deliciousness or perhaps guilt at eating what shouldn’t be eaten or of some other aspect that arouses guilt in you.

I’d say this is directly related to wandering attention ‘post-experience’… As one is simply experiencing (yum yum) and then one notices the associated feeling. Yum Yum relishing… a bit of mindfulness comes up because you have previously been conditioning yourself to keep an eye out for sense indulgence (or whatever is causing the guilt to arise, but I’ll use sense restraint as a convenience in this example). Catching it you are reminded of sense restraint and realise that you didn’t have it in place and ‘indulged’ in the sensual pleasure. So the pleasant feeling was in regard to sensory pleasure and then unpleasant feeling arose due to guilt at not having been as mindful as one felt one should have been… It is a result of changing focus of attention. It isn’t 2 feelings simultaneously about the same thing, it is 2 different feelings about 2 different aspects, and dependent on attention.

So everyone can relate to that I think… The things I find useful in discriminating and illuminating the processes is to watch how this sequence can be influenced in differing conditions. eg mindfulness established - (attention established) on a specific attitude rather than just automatically reacting to whatever conditions are there - in this case attenuated attention on sense restraint. One would approach the cake while keeping in mind ‘i take this food for nutriment of the body and not for sense indulgence’. Would the same sequence arise as when just being swept along? mmm yum yum :yum: In my experience no it doesn’t. But unless one actually engages in the practice it is pretty invisible - it is just dry theory and not a lived experience that gives confidence.

In this way one can see that feeling is conditioned by a variety of things, and that one can use this knowledge (as in Right Effort) to lead to positive and beneficial states etc… (Sorry I just can’t take the practice out of the equation) The relevance of Right Effort is that the resultant states are based in either positive/pleasant feeling or negative/unpleasant feeling or neutral feeling. Basically understanding and using cause and effect

The Buddha makes pretty clear that view and attention both affect perception. I used to be on lots of diets… In the past I conditioned myself to see cake as the enemy :smile::joy:… now ( a lot older and a little wiser) I look at cake and think - ok it is what it is - the feelings that arise are pretty neutral - but they haven’t always been so. So what changed? My View (even down to Nama level, and sankhara level) it is reconditioning… I think this can be pretty universally understood.

In dealing with people with no Buddhist leanings, and specifically in the past when working with psychological interventions, this type of thing can be part of a therapeutic response… ie it is understandable by non-Buddhists, but does need to be explained and experienced by putting it in practice. Basic re-conditioning and cognitive behavioural therapy and now even mindfulness based cognitive therapy :smile: utilises exactly this kind of thing. But you didn’t want a psychological theory either… so I don’t know

Many things that the Buddha talked about weren’t immediately obvious to all listeners, so I wouldn’t hold that as some kind of universal standard. But if you had an hour or two to explain about the mechanics of how feelings arise, and to lead through some examples of showing the conditionality, most people would understand to at least some degree. Of course one has to be able to move beyond identifying completley with feeling - Feeling is Me/Self - at least to a small degree.

Though this doesn’t really get to the central point of your original question - can you experience both pleasant and unpleasant feelnig simultaneously… My view is that you can’t, they are sequential, and yes I suppose I’m saying

And not knowing what the Abhidhamma says about it, that hasn’t influenced my view which comes straight from the suttas and practice.

So there’s a few meandering thoughts :smile:

Finally I can’t resist including a pic from yesterday morning, which illustrates my feeling of trying to see clearly through the mist of our own conditioning. Might be misty… but the view is clearing up :smiley:

Thanks for the nice exchange and wishing you much health and happiness :pray: :slight_smile: :anjal: :dharmawheel:


I’ll just leave this here. Hopefully this makes sense. I dont have knowledge of technical vocabulary used in English grammar and so forth. I might be using some terms in my own way.

I would say the question or atleast the paradigm that gave rise to this question needs to be examined.

For me, ‘feeling’ is first person subjective, even in the deepest meditative state. The word ‘feeling’ should be considered like the word ‘knowing’. Knowing two knowings at one time, does not compute.

[actually for me all Nama(citta/cetasika) dhammas are first person subjective. ok, i belive they can be object of a subsequent set of nama dhammas, but that is a different story]

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Would you consider that ever present avijja suggests that we are currently mired in it (and that we are not getting the true picture of what is going on -nicca, sukkha, atta)? It takes samadhi for panna to arise, without samadhi there is no panna. Where there is samadhi it can slow down the process of perceiving and see that consciousness is rapidly sampling stimuli from various sense organs. And that when you speed it up you get the ‘mixed’ reality that is apparent to us. For all purposes it is multitasking, by timesharing. Abhidhamma isn’t all wrong and neither is everything in the commentaries (Sure, some of it might be inaccurate…). The Buddha doesn’t divide reality into conventional and ultimate - he merely talks of conventional life and rupa, vedeana, sanna, sankhara when he wants to refer to the ultimate reality. So though not named the division is still there. And we know that fie aggregates are anicca, dukkha and anatta. Objects in ultimate reality is as close as he can get to observing reality at its clearest.

I agree with @viveka that many things are going on, but that attention can deal with only one thing at a time. This is attention conditioned by samadhi, which sees things clearly.

Yes, there is. It is called impermanence of khandhas.

The Buddha didn’t deviate from his doctrine of anatta, when he spoke to uninitiated. This is an example of anicca being treated the same way.

Maybe the issue is apparent to them!

I think putting conditions that will limit your insight, is not helpful. :pray:

Interesting question, Bhante.

Current neurophysiology might shed some light on this.
Several studies, such as Science | AAAS, indicate there is in fact simultaneious (if less efficient) processing in the brain when processing more than one task, which may include parallel processing of multiple feelings.

So multiple feelings or thought-tasks are present, processed, and “known” pre-consciously one-at-a-time with respect to each process, as conditions arising in the conditional aspect of the body called “brain.”
But, as we know, the mind is also a “seamstress” rapidly, and usually pre-consciously, weaving together many pre-conscious processes into coherent feelings or sensations that appear to be simultaneous.

The point is, perhaps both sides have a point in terms of the suttas:
What subjectively appears as “back pain at the same time as bliss”, thanks to the weaving together of waking conscious is, in fact, an illusion because of the rapid toggling back-and-forth of the two processes, which are really experienced only one at a time.

There’s only one frame at a time during a movie and if our minds processed visual stimuli more rapidly we’d see each one, one at a time. But the toggling and combining of the brain and mind see it all at once. In this sense, multiple feelings are subjectively experienced simultaneously. But, in fact, they are not so.

Assuming the Buddha’s depth of passana allowed him to see the “only one at a time, frame by frame” aspect of feelings, along the lines of the study cited above, the weaving together of conscious experience that has them subjectively appear to be simultaneous would of course also be seen into.
Usual wakeful consciousness → “simultaneous feelings”; ultra-mindfulness → only ever one at a time, which the Buddha taught as the deep reality of feelings.

Perhaps in this context the teaching was offered as a skillful way to teach people to settle down and focus their minds rather than swinging from one feeling to the next, especially as the mind can be distracted by focusing on different feelings that appear to be simultaneous in consciousness, competing for attention. But can only theorize about this…

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These are the thoughts that cross my mind…

DN15 begins with discussing vedana, categorizing it as

feeling born of contact through the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind
cakkhusamphassajā vedanā sotasamphassajā vedanā ghānasamphassajā vedanā jivhāsamphassajā vedanā kāyasamphassajā vedanā manosamphassajā vedanā

Its only later that it talks about three kinds of vedana, in relation to which might be considered as Self.

Reverend, there are three feelings:
‘tisso kho imā, āvuso, vedanā—
pleasant, painful, and neutral.
sukhā vedanā dukkhā vedanā adukkhamasukhā vedanā.
Which one of these do you regard as self?’
Imāsaṁ kho tvaṁ tissannaṁ vedanānaṁ katamaṁ attato samanupassasī’ti?

Putting the two together, it seems to me that the three feelings are being discussed in relation to each one of the sense organs. This is also in accordance with MN59 where the Buddha analyses feelings further.

In one explanation I’ve spoken of two feelings. In another explanation I’ve spoken of three feelings, or five, six, eighteen, thirty-six, or a hundred and eight feelings.
Dvepānanda, vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, tissopi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, pañcapi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, chapi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, aṭṭhārasapi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, chattiṁsapi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena, aṭṭhasatampi vedanā vuttā mayā pariyāyena.
I’ve explained the teaching in all these different ways.
Evaṁ pariyāyadesito kho, ānanda, mayā dhammo.
This being so, you can expect that those who don’t concede, approve, or agree with what has been well spoken will argue, quarrel, and fight, continually wounding each other with barbed words.

So, in the examples offered

If one is to analyze these examples, there is sukkha vedana born of contact of the cake with the Tongue, while the dukkha vedana is born of contact of the cake eating thought with the Mind. Similarly, there is sukkha vedana born of Mind contact during meditation, while there is also dukkha vedana born of Body contact.

These are separate feelings (vedana) to be considered in relation to each of the separate sense organs.

One can only feel one of the three possibilities viz pleasant/ painful/ neutral feeling in relation to each sense organ at any particular time.

That does not preclude the possibility of feeling two different kinds of feeling from two different sense organs sensing different aspects of the same experience.

:pray: :thinking: :slightly_smiling_face:


I think these type of ideas only take us backward rather than forward on the spiritual path. The Buddha has compared consciousness to a monkey that jumps from branch to branch to illustrate how quickly what we call our consciousness, mind or thoughts change.
So for me, even the mere suggestion that our feelings are mixed rather than momentary is a waste of time because it makes us forget the bigger picture which is the impermanance that is all pervasive.
With Metta

Thanks everyone for your genuine and careful responses! I’m trying, I really am, but I’m still not persuaded. Here’s why!

You’ve just read your answer into your assumptions. What if the pleasant feeling arises and then guilt arises which continues along at the same time as the pleasure? Here’s the evidence!

It’s definitely true that “feeling” (vedanā) lies very close in meaning to “knowing”, if fact coming from one of the roots “to know” (vid). But as with Viveka’s previous approach, which shifted from feeling to attention, I’m not sure how shifting from feeling to knowing actually solves the problem. If I look out my window I see light and my mind rapidly recognizes trees and buildings, meanwhile I am aware of a sense of existential unease from unread emails. It doesn’t seem obvious to me that they cannot be simultaneous.

As I said in the original post, this argument is used exclusively as a self-evident axiom that is assumed to be a shared understanding with non-Buddhists. So any argument that requires special practices and insights doesn’t represent how this is presented in the suttas.

No-one said it was. The Abhidhamma interpretation is not wrong because it’s Abhidhamma, it’s wrong because it doesn’t make sense that understanding of Abhidhamma concepts were assumed to be shared with non-Buddhists.

Ahh, you must be new here!

I’m not putting in conditions, the context is.

Interesting article, thanks. The basic idea is that the brain can split tasks between the two hemispheres, but not more than that.

Neuroscientist Scott Huettel of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, isn’t convinced of the two-task limit on human multitasking ability. “This shows there are conditions in which you can’t add a third task, but it depends on the type of task and whether it draws on other parts of the brain,” he says.

For example, people are remarkably good at eating while doing other things, he says, because the practiced motor skills involved in eating don’t overlap too heavily with those that interpret visual cues, control language, or run other complex processes.

This is talking about simultaneously accomplishing multiple complex and purpose driven tasks, which is surely more demanding than simply experiencing two feelings at the same time.

To be clear, I don’t believe that brain processes are the same as the mind, but clearly they are closely related. And it simply doesn’t make sense to think of the brain as running on a single thread. It does all kinds of things at the same time, all interrelated in complex ways and manifesting in consciousness in complex ways.

There is a long history in modern Buddhism of saying “we are scientific”, then rejecting the findings of science that disagree with us. In this case, however, I think we have something to learn about how the mind works.

Again, this is the same problem. The position is presented in the suttas as a self-evident axiom. Any response that argues “it seems like this, but it really is that” is simply ruled out by the context.

True, the analysis does proceed from the six senses in DN 15. But not in MN 74; and even in DN 15 it is presented inside the larger analysis as a self-contained argument. It doesn’t say, “if talking to someone who believes feeling is self, first establish the fact that there are feelings that arise based on six senses, then infer from that that only the same kind of feeling can arise in one sense door at one time”.

No, it says (paraphrasing): “obviously only one kind of feeling can arise at a time”. The more I hear complex arguments explaining how to infer this or reason it or experience it in deeper meditations the more I become convinced of my original point, which is that it is far from obvious.

Again, the sutta does not make this kind of distinction about overlapping domains.


If we are asking how an Iron Age non-Buddhist Indian would understand it, does it make sense then to discuss physiology, neuroscience etc? Perhaps it would be better to look at something more like Samkhya.

The momentariness of feelings depends on the faculty that perceives them. If a perceiving subject is at the distinct end of the spectrum - applying will, focus, attention, direction - then the feeling will appear as arising and falling, as momentary. Because the perceiving subject relates itself to time in a distinct way. This is obviously the “vipassana perceiver”.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the naive perceiver, not concerned with dhamma, philosophy, or even hyper-effective work/concentration. This subject relates itself differently to time, it is not too distinct from the unconscious - which is structured as a field, not as distinct elements. The field-nature of the unfocused consciousness allows more complexity and chaos. And like in a painting, a daydream, a poem, a symbol, or flavors in complex wine, many emotions exist simultaneously - not as distinct units, but blended into a field-like experience with smeared time and proximity to the unconscious modality.

And many of our every day experiences are somewhere in between, with a more or less differentiated subject, with a more or less precise relation to time, with more or less distance to the unconscious field-modality.

Once again, I’m not asking for an explanation of momentariness—which I understand just fine, thanks—I’m asking how a naive observer with no meditation practice can simply be assumed to understand that only one feeling is experienced at a time…

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I think if we are to accept this passage as not simply mistaken, then the best way to take it is in a generalized sense that understands the context of the argument. After all, as you have said, this is meant to be a clear argument that is not super technical or meditation-specific, let alone Buddhist-Abhidhamma-technical specific.

So those who say ‘feeling is my self’ regard as self that which is evidently impermanent, a mixture of pleasure and pain, and liable to rise and fall.
DN 15

The main context is that feelings obviously come and go, and so to treat them as one self is quite odd. Part of this seems to be that “because they come and go, they change into a different feeling.” So the idea is that a general feeling tone arises, and it will go away and turn into a different one, and thus specific feelings are unreliable.

I think that if we take this as primary context along with the idea that this is meant to be straightforward, this generalized statement holds true. There are obvious exceptions. I think part of what @josephzizys said applies as well that we should understand vedanā as the tone for a whole experience. If we are sitting down in meditative bliss and feeling back pain, still, we are going to regard that whole experience generally as a pleasant one, a painful one, or neutral.

If we are experiencing the bliss of meditation but have bodily pain for instance, I’d say that’s probably a generally positive feeling — otherwise it would be difficult for there to be the bliss from samādhi. There is some discomfort, sure, but the experience as a whole when we step aside from technical analysis and division of feelings is just generally pleasant. If we could categorize it as “the experience of having back pain while also experiencing mental bliss,” we could say “that’s a generally pleasant experience.”

I find that this more generalized sense of the word makes sense when we question its usage and all experience generally. Do we ever experience pure pleasure, pure pain, or pure neutral feeling and nothing else whatsoever when having sensual experiences? It seems each chunk in our stream of consciousness is full of different contacts, but overall, even with diversity, we experience this part of the stream as something good, bad, or indifferent.

I also think this section of the sutta, in the same part on feeling and the self, contributes to this notion:

‘Feeling is definitely not my self. My self does not experience feeling.’ You should say this to them,
‘But reverend, where there is nothing felt at all, would the thought “I am” occur there?’”
“No, sir.”
DN 15

I’m not sure how obvious this is either if we take vedanā to mean a specific localized sensation. Perhaps we should re-evaluate how we relate to the word vedanā itself if we find that this usage does not conform to how we use the word ‘feeling’ in English. Maybe there are some underlying connotations or associations being overlooked that this nuance helps us capture.

If you say “okay, your self does not feel, but if you felt no sensations (of pleasant, painful, neutral), would you even have the notion of ‘I am’?” It seems to me that most people would say “… yes.” Especially if they think “the self does not feel” lol. Who cares if there are no sensations?

Ajahn Brahm has translated vedanā as ’experience(s)’. This was indirectly discussed some already with mention of the root vid-, gestalts, etc. There are plenty of faults with this as a translation, but it does seem to me that this captures something in the understanding and usage of the word. If we say “yes, but if you didn’t even have any experiences (which can be generally pleasant, painful or neutral), you wouldn’t even have a notion of ‘I am’.” This I think people can get behind and it makes a lot more sense. It is what I mean by how a “chunk of the stream of consciousness” is experienced in such a way generally. There is nuance, but this is an obvious, clear, way to relate to our experience and to the concept that also seems to match the context and the understanding of the scope of the word at the time.

Also, I’d note that there are:

  • Suttas which define consciousness as that which cognizes, and the say what it cognizes is pleasant, painful, and neutral vedanā
  • Passages which say that consciousness, feeling, and perception are intertwined
  • Passages which say that perception-less beings exist, and thus perhaps saññā does not account for all experience generally. Note too that the nirodha samāpatti specifically includes the cessation of saññā and vedanā

I think these points contribute to the above understanding of the word/concept of vedanā itself.

Would love feedback especially on this second point of the scope of the word. Hope this was helpful. And to repeat myself some: this is if we accept the passage, not that we must :slight_smile:

Mettā :pray:


But here you assume that naive observers were addressed with such a teaching. This isn’t the case. The context implies an understanding of just-before conditionality. Or, in DN 9 the samaye is applied to all jhanas.

Such an audience doesn’t need a transfer from daily experience to philosophical psychology - they have done their homework.