I’m currently studying MN 10 and The Buddha mentions feeling “material” or “spiritual” feelings. What exactly is meant by these? What is the difference? I get pleasant, painful, neutral. But material vs. spiritual, not sure. Also, internally/externally, is that referring to inside and outside the body?
Usually known as ‘feelings of the flesh or not of the flesh.’ In path progress it is essential to replace feelings of the flesh with those not of the flesh, which are defined as related to tranquillity:
" “Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality.”
—Majjhima Nikaya 14
Pleasant feelings not of the flesh are officially defined as resulting from jhana, but in practice they extend to any pleasant feeling associated with the path:
“And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)”
—Majjhima Nikaya 137
The importance of cultivating pleasant feelings not of the flesh is demonstrated in the Anapanasati sutta second tetrad, where recognition and development of those feelings is an exercise. This follows ‘the sensitivity to the entire body’ developed in the first tetrad. So the ability of the breath to result in pleasant feeling constitutes the main theme of Anapanasati.
The terms in question are sāmisa and nirāmisa, “of the flesh” and “not of the flesh”, respectively. Alternatively, “worldly” and “not of the world”, or “material” and “non-material”. The PTS definition of nirāmisa indicates that to be “not of the world” or “of the flesh” is to be free of sensuality, i.e. not associated with the five senses. This is clearly illustrated in SN 36.31, where we find nirāmisa as a direct reference to jhana, and sāmisa as being of the senses. Highly likely this is distinction being emphasized in MN 10.
OK, that makes more sense, thanks!