Looking for a sutta about that pleasant unpleasant neutral feelings can lead to liberation and away from it

Greetings dear D&D members :anjal:

I’ve been looking for hours for a sutta already, but can’t seem to find this one, to the point I’m starting to doubt it exists, but I’m still 95% sure it does! So if you could please help me find it, I would be grateful and I kindly ask for your help. :pray:

So… the sutta says something like that: there are pleasant feelings that lead to liberation and pleasant feelings that lead to bondage. There are painful feelings that lead to liberation and painful feelings that lead to bondage. There are neutral feelings that lead to liberation and neutral feelings that lead to bondage.

Or something with this meaning…

I think it was in MN, but not sure. I remember that this topic was only part of the sutta and not whole of it.

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it in one of Ajahn Brahmali’s sutta classes, but I’ve checked so many of them today and still can’t find it. Good thing is that I’ve found and read a lot of other great suttas while looking for it, but would still love to find this one.

btw. It’s not MN44, though it was close one.

Anyone ? :slight_smile:

PS: or maybe it was about that pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings can all lead to wisdom or away from it, or be wholesome or unwholesome. But something in this manner.

Hi @Invo :wave: Could it be MN 148? I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for since it talks more about the skilful/unskilful reactions to feelings and underlying tendencies behind those reactions. :thinking: So it doesn’t really differentiate between the feelings themselves in quite the manner I understand you might be looking for… In that sense MN 137 could hit more closer to home, though it also is basically about different kinds of reactions to sense-contact. Anyway, here are a bit long but relevant passages from both suttas, see if they ring any bells. :slight_smile:

MN 148 Unskilful: Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for the arising of what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral. When you experience a pleasant feeling, if you approve, welcome, and keep clinging to it, the underlying tendency to greed underlies that. When you experience a painful feeling, if you sorrow and wail and lament, beating your breast and falling into confusion, the underlying tendency to repulsion underlies that. When you experience a neutral feeling, if you don’t truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, the underlying tendency to ignorance underlies that. Mendicants, without giving up the underlying tendency to greed for pleasant feeling, without dispelling the underlying tendency to repulsion towards painful feeling, without eradicating ignorance in the case of neutral feeling, without giving up ignorance and without giving rise to knowledge, it’s simply impossible to make an end of suffering in the present life.
Ear consciousness … Nose consciousness … Tongue consciousness … Body consciousness … Mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and thoughts. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for the arising of what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral. When you experience a pleasant feeling, if you approve, welcome, and keep clinging to it, the underlying tendency to greed underlies that. When you experience a painful feeling, if you sorrow and wail and lament, beating your breast and falling into confusion, the underlying tendency to repulsion underlies that. When you experience a neutral feeling, if you don’t truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, the underlying tendency to ignorance underlies that. Mendicants, without giving up the underlying tendency to greed for pleasant feeling, without dispelling the underlying tendency to repulsion towards painful feeling, without eradicating ignorance in the case of neutral feeling, without giving up ignorance and without giving rise to knowledge, it’s simply impossible to make an end of suffering in the present life.

MN 148 Skilful: Eye consciousness arises dependent on the eye and sights. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for the arising of what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral. When you experience a pleasant feeling, if you don’t approve, welcome, and keep clinging to it, the underlying tendency to greed does not underlie that. When you experience a painful feeling, if you don’t sorrow or wail or lament, beating your breast and falling into confusion, the underlying tendency to repulsion does not underlie that. When you experience a neutral feeling, if you truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, the underlying tendency to ignorance does not underlie that. Mendicants, after giving up the underlying tendency to greed for pleasant feeling, after dispelling the underlying tendency to repulsion towards painful feeling, after eradicating ignorance in the case of neutral feeling, after giving up ignorance and giving rise to knowledge, it’s totally possible to make an end of suffering in the present life.
Ear consciousness …
Nose consciousness …
Tongue consciousness …
Body consciousness …
Mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and thoughts. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral. When you experience a pleasant feeling, if you don’t approve, welcome, and keep clinging to it, the underlying tendency to greed does not underlie that. When you experience a painful feeling, if you don’t sorrow or wail or lament, beating your breast and falling into confusion, the underlying tendency to repulsion does not underlie that. When you experience a neutral feeling, if you truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape, the underlying tendency to ignorance does not underlie that. Mendicants, after giving up the underlying tendency to greed for pleasant feeling, after dispelling the underlying tendency to repulsion towards painful feeling, after eradicating ignorance in the case of neutral feeling, after giving up ignorance and giving rise to knowledge, it’s totally possible to make an end of suffering in the present life.
Seeing this, a learned noble disciple grows disillusioned with the eye, sights, eye consciousness, eye contact, feeling, and craving.
They grow disillusioned with the ear … nose … tongue … body … mind, thoughts, mind consciousness, mind contact, feeling, and craving. Being disillusioned, desire fades away. When desire fades away they’re freed. When it is freed, they know it is freed.
They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.’”

MN 137 ‘The thirty-six positions of sentient beings should be understood.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it? There are six kinds of lay happiness and six kinds of renunciate happiness. There are six kinds of lay sadness and six kinds of renunciate sadness. There are six kinds of lay equanimity and six kinds of renunciate equanimity.

Lay happiness/Renunciate happiness And in this context what are the six kinds of lay happiness? There are sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasing, connected with the world’s material delights. Happiness arises when you regard it as a gain to obtain such sights, or when you recollect sights you formerly obtained that have passed, ceased, and perished. Such happiness is called lay happiness. There are sounds known by the ear … Smells known by the nose … Tastes known by the tongue … Touches known by the body … Thoughts known by the mind that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasing, connected with the world’s material delights. Happiness arises when you regard it as a gain to obtain such thoughts, or when you recollect thoughts you formerly obtained that have passed, ceased, and perished. Such happiness is called lay happiness. These are the six kinds of lay happiness.
And in this context what are the six kinds of renunciate happiness? When you’ve understood the impermanence of sights—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—happiness arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those sights are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Such happiness is called renunciate happiness. When you’ve understood the impermanence of sounds … smells … tastes … touches … thoughts—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—happiness arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those thoughts are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Such happiness is called renunciate happiness. These are the six kinds of renunciate happiness.

Lay sadness/Renunciate sadness: And in this context what are the six kinds of lay sadness? There are sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasing, connected with the world’s material delights. Sadness arises when you regard it as a loss to lose such sights, or when you recollect sights you formerly lost that have passed, ceased, and perished. Such sadness is called lay sadness. There are sounds known by the ear … There are smells known by the nose … There are tastes known by the tongue … There are touches known by the body … There are thoughts known by the mind that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasing, connected with the world’s material delights. Sadness arises when you regard it as a loss to lose such thoughts, or when you recollect thoughts you formerly lost that have passed, ceased, and perished. Such sadness is called lay sadness. These are the six kinds of lay sadness.
And in this context what are the six kinds of renunciate sadness? When you’ve understood the impermanence of sights—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those sights are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Upon seeing this, you give rise to yearning for the supreme liberations: ‘Oh, when will I enter and remain in the same dimension that the noble ones enter and remain in today?’ When you give rise to yearning for the supreme liberations like this, sadness arises because of the yearning. Such sadness is called renunciate sadness. When you’ve understood the impermanence of sounds … smells … tastes … touches … thoughts—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those thoughts are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Upon seeing this, you give rise to yearning for the supreme liberations: ‘Oh, when will I enter and remain in the same dimension that the noble ones enter and remain in today?’ When you give rise to yearning for the supreme liberations like this, sadness arises because of the yearning. Such sadness is called renunciate sadness. These are the six kinds of renunciate sadness.

Lay equanimity/renunciate equanimity: And in this context what are the six kinds of lay equanimity? When seeing a sight with the eye, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks. Such equanimity does not transcend the sight. That’s why it’s called lay equanimity. When hearing a sound with the ear … When smelling an odor with the nose … When tasting a flavor with the tongue … When feeling a touch with the body … When knowing a thought with the mind, equanimity arises for the uneducated ordinary person—a foolish ordinary person who has not overcome their limitations and the results of deeds, and is blind to the drawbacks. Such equanimity does not transcend the thought. That’s why it’s called lay equanimity. These are the six kinds of lay equanimity.
And in this context what are the six kinds of renunciate equanimity? When you’ve understood the impermanence of sights—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—equanimity arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those sights are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Such equanimity transcends the sight. That’s why it’s called renunciate equanimity. When you’ve understood the impermanence of sounds … smells … tastes … touches … thoughts—their perishing, fading away, and cessation—equanimity arises as you truly understand through right understanding that both formerly and now all those thoughts are impermanent, suffering, and perishable. Such equanimity transcends the thought. That’s why it’s called renunciate equanimity. These are the six kinds of renunciate equanimity. ‘The thirty-six positions of sentient beings should be understood.’ That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.
‘Therein, relying on this, give up that.’ That’s what I said, but why did I say it?
Therein, by relying and depending on the six kinds of renunciate happiness, give up and go beyond the six kinds of lay happiness. That’s how they are given up.
Therein, by relying on the six kinds of renunciate sadness, give up the six kinds of lay sadness. That’s how they are given up.
Therein, by relying on the six kinds of renunciate equanimity, give up the six kinds of lay equanimity. That’s how they are given up.
Therein, by relying on the six kinds of renunciate happiness, give up the six kinds of renunciate sadness. That’s how they are given up.
Therein, by relying on the six kinds of renunciate equanimity, give up the six kinds of renunciate happiness. That’s how they are given up.

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How about this one:

MN70:7.1: “Haven’t you known me to teach the Dhamma like this: ‘When someone feels this kind of pleasant feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of pleasant feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow. When someone feels this kind of painful feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of painful feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow. When someone feels this kind of neutral feeling, unskillful qualities grow and skillful qualities decline. But when someone feels that kind of neutral feeling, unskillful qualities decline and skillful qualities grow’?”

There are still Suttas on two kinds of happiness, sadness, and equanimity (for example DN 21), but that’s not exactly the same as pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling.

Adding:
And in AN 2.64-76 you find all sorts of “two kinds of happiness”, with a judgement each time which one is the better one.

Another interesting one could be a passage in AN 6.63:

AN6.63:18.1: And what is the result of feelings?
When one who feels creates a corresponding life-form, with the attributes of either good or bad deeds—
this is called the result of feelings.

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This quote has some very interesting practical implications and what it says - that the creation of a life-form results from feeling - may help understand why in some of the suttas of AN9 like AN9.49 we see the idea of how entering and remaining in the cessation of perception and feeling, and seeing it with wisdom, brings one’s defilements to an end and results in extinguishment which is visible in this very life and takes place in a definitive sense.

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Wow, thank you so much Venerable Sabbamitta and Mikko for these references ! :slight_smile:

First of all the sutta I was looking for is indeed MN70 that Venerable Sabbamitta pointed out, so the solution goes there! :slight_smile: But thank you also for DN21 and AN6.63. This is exactly what I was looking for - support of notion that most important thing is if something is kusala or akusala - and this is yoniso manasikara to see that.

Thank you Mikko for bringing up MN137 and MN148. This relates to the deeper level of practice with feelings and it will be very helpful for me as well! :slight_smile:

I’ll just add two suttas which nicely corresponds here:
First of all AN3.68

Quoted from Peter Harvey - An analysis of factors related to the kusala/akusala quality of actions in the Pāli tradition

AN I.199–201 is another passage that probes the nature of attachment, hatred and delusion, and discusses what causes them and their opposites.

If wanderers of other sects should ask you about the distinction, disparity and difference among these three qualities (dhammā) – attachment (rāgo), hatred (doso) and delusion (moho) – you should answer them thus: ‘Attachment is a small fault (appasāvajjo) but its removal is slow (dandhavirāgī); hatred is a great fault (mahāsāvajjo) but its removal is quicker (khippavirāgī); delusion is a great fault and its removal is slow.’

If they ask, ‘Now friends, what is the cause and reason for the arising of unarisen attachment (or hatred or delusion), and for the increase and strengthening of arisen attachment (or hatred or delusion)?,’ you should reply: ‘… For one attending unwisely (ayoniso manasikaroto) to (an object’s) attractive aspect (subhanimittaṃ), unarisen attachment will arise and arisen attachment will increase and become strong. … For one attending unwisely to (an object’s) irritating aspect (paṭighanimittaṃ) unarisen hatred will arise and arisen hatred will increase and become strong. … For one attending unwisely, unarisen delusion will arise and arisen delusion will increase and become strong.’

If they ask, ‘Now friends, what is the cause and reason for the nonarising of unarisen attachment (or hatred or delusion), and for abandoning of arisen attachment (or hatred or delusion)?,’ you should reply: ‘… For one attending wisely (yoniso manasikaroto) to (an object’s) unattractive aspect (asubhanimittaṃ), unarisen attachment will not arise and arisen attachment will be abandoned. … For one attending wisely to the liberation of mind by loving-kindness, unarisen hatred will not arise and arisen hatred will be abandoned. … For one attending wisely, unarisen delusion will not arise and arisen delusion will be abandoned.’

Here we see that the crucial sustainer of attachment, hatred and delusion is attention that is ayoniso: unwise, unsystematic, inappropriate, not focussing on the fundamental nature of its object. Elsewhere, it is said that ayoniso attention supports lack of both mindfulness (sati) and clear comprehension (sampajañña), which then supports non-guarding of the sense-faculties, and this then supports misconduct of body, speech and mind. Wise attention has the opposite effect (AN V.113–116). Wise attention is something that is used in and strengthened by the various forms of Buddhist mind-training or “meditation.”

SN36.31:

“And what, bhikkhus, is carnal happiness? There are, bhikkhus, these five cords of sensual pleasure. What five? Forms cognizable by the eye … tactile objects cognizable by the body that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. These are the five cords of sensual pleasure. The happiness that arises in dependence on these five cords of sensual pleasure: this is called carnal happiness.

“And what, bhikkhus, is spiritual happiness? Here, bhikkhus, secluded from sensual pleasures … a bhikkhu enters and dwells in the first jhana … the second jhana…. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: ‘He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.’ This is called spiritual happiness.

“And what, bhikkhus, is happiness more spiritual than the spiritual? When a bhikkhu whose taints are destroyed reviews his mind liberated from lust, liberated from hatred, liberated from delusion, there arises happiness. This is called happiness more spiritual than the spiritual.

Thank you for your help. :anjal:

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Isn’t they idea behind this that those feelings are the basis for tanha to arise? And tanha is related to new birth.

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yes, in theory that is a possible sequence
maybe in practice, by attaining such refined mind states, further desire for feeling just stops making any sense, and hence the resulting extinguishment becomes definitive… I will only know if I ever get there… :man_shrugging:

"“When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh, he discerns, ‘I am feeling a painful feeling of the flesh.’ When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, ‘I am feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh.’ When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, ‘I am feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh.’ When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh.”—MN 10

Maybe i will experience it once but now, at this moment, I belief the cessation of perception and feeling is a total break with dualistic knowing, subject and object duality. In any jhana this is not broken yet. There is for example in the sphere of nothingness a subject that experiences or knows the object “there is nothing”. This nothingness is known by a knower. Those jhana’s are not free of dualistic knowing.

The next jhana is on the bourder of loosing this dual knowing. I belief the next phase, sannavedayitanirodha, is not only a further development of stilling. It is a real breaktrough and for this reason it is also not called jhana, i think. In this stage there is even nothing to support the duality of knower and known. I like to belief here one has a direct experience of the non-dual nature of mind. In some traditions called citta in others Buddha-nature.

I think that meeting this non-dual nature one has a very direct understanding of oneself and does see it is really egoless, anatta. It does not move, does not incline, is desireless, empty, is signless. And when one comes out of this state one keeps conneted to this ‘sphere’ (MN44)

“But ma’am, when a mendicant has emerged from the attainment of the cessation of perception and feeling, how many kinds of contact do they experience?”
“They experience three kinds of contact: emptiness, signless, and undirected contacts.

So, i belief the nature of cognition changes, it becomes signless and uninclined and that is, i belief, because mind is now so deeply grounded in asankhata, in the unconditioned, in peace. It does not get lost anymore in formations and that does not need contemplation, i belief.

I belief, Buddha saw that the same fruit can be realised when one does not enter cessation but one sees at real time that any arising formations is anicca, dukkha and anatta. Then one also becomes grounded more and more in that what is allready desireless, signless, uninclined, stable, and peaceful. Desire and inclination and signs are also not the nature of the mind. It is adventitious bagage, picked up in endless samsara.

The crux is, i feel, that what is allready desireless, that what is already empty, already without inclination or direction, signless is never absent in any phase of our development , not even for a worldling. Not even in a hell-being or animal. It is always are deepest ground as it were. Most close to us. So close we overlook it. This is our deep unfathomable nature. It is not metaphysical but it can only be experiences by the wise.

I belief, it is not that peace is absent in anybody or any moment. It is always present for any being.
That is no theory. It is not that one has to create peace but one just has to end all causes for disturbance (in the end that is grasping at formation) and the natural result is peace. One does not have to create the uninclined, but just uproot anusaya. We do not have to and cannot create or develop asankhata element. It is always there, for every being and in any phase at any moment.