Mixed emotions and Vedana

What I would like to know is how would the Buddha talk about or discuss mixed emotions? As far as I know Vedana can be divided into pleasant , unpleasant and neutral valence tones but how would it incorporate mixed emotions which can sometimes for example include sadness and happiness which can be opposite since one is pleasant while the other is unpleasant or is that not a thing? Thanks !

Because it has an admixture of suffering and happiness, this sense realm is the best for making progress. This is in the context of the heavens and hells.

“Although humans appear to be rather low on the scale, many intelligent deities long for rebirth on the human plane. Why? Because the best opportunity to practice the Dhamma and attain liberation is right here on earth. On the lower four planes, little progress can be made as suffering is gross and unrelenting and the opportunity to perform deeds of merit is rarely gained. The very bliss of the higher planes beclouds the universal characteristics of all phenomena: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and the lack of any lasting, controlling self. And without fully comprehending these principles, there is no motivation to develop the detachment from the world that is essential to liberation.”—Jootla

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Hi. I cannot recall a sutta with explicitly mixed vedana. However, I can image mixed vedana can occur. For example, in the Buddha’s time, when a daughter was married, she would live in/with the family of the husband. Therefore, the daughter’s parents may be happy because their daughter was married but also sad because the daughter was leaving their home. It seems these mixed vedana would result in mixed kamma, as described below:

And what are dark and bright deeds with dark and bright results?

Katamañca, bhikkhave, kammaṁ kaṇhasukkaṁ kaṇhasukkavipākaṁ?

It’s when someone makes both hurtful and pleasing choices by way of body, speech, and mind. These are called dark and bright deeds with dark and bright results.

Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco sabyābajjhampi abyābajjhampi kāyasaṅkhāraṁ abhisaṅkharoti …pe… idaṁ vuccati, bhikkhave, kammaṁ kaṇhasukkaṁ kaṇhasukkavipākaṁ.


Interesting question. I don’t think there is anything to prevent a mix of pleasant and unpleasant vedana.

Note however that vedana is like an instinctive reaction, whereas emotions are usually the sankharas that result. Separating these out can be tricky.

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My understanding of vendana is not any particular emotions, but the hedonic tone that arises from sense contact and how it falls on the continuum between agony and ecstasy.

This is a great example. However, I think if you tease it apart it becomes two separate thoughts arising; the happiness of the daughter’s marriage and the perceived loss of the daughter to another. If dealt with separately, equipoise can be developed for both and progress on the path is made.

A smart person would purge
their own stains gradually,
bit by bit, moment by moment,
like a smith smelting silver.

Dhammapada 18, Sujato

Just a thought: since the situation is uncertain, I think having a so-called mixture is ultimately an unpleasant experience. Think about, if you are “torn” - as we say here is the States - there is a overall lack of clarity and understanding, which is always going to be unpleasant. Or perhaps neutral, which, when not known, is also unpleasant. And that brings to mind the simile of the dart and that redundant feeling on account of what was initially unpleasant, i.e., feeling about a feeling. It seems the one that is the broadest is the one that is most relevant.

For me, the above Abhidhammism is not necessary. To me, it seems probable the dark+white kamma arises from two different vedana in relation to the one sense experience. Regards :no_mouth:

Perhaps I didn’t articulate my thoughts well. When parents think about their daughter being married, they feel the pleasantness of joy and metta. When they consider that she will be gone from their house, they feel the pain of sadness or loss. I don’t see what the Abhidhamma has to do with it. Perhaps you could elaborate. :slight_smile:

Abhidhamma refers to discrete “mind moments”.

So with an Abhidhammic view, one would switch rapidly between pleasant and unpleasant vedana, rather than experiencing them at the same time?

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I don’t subscribe to “mind moments” as is in the Abhidhamma. I just think it’s normal to have thoughts and feelings about multiple and different issues and finding the subtleties is important.

I don’t subscribe to mind-moments either, though I do notice how quickly the mind can change.

Regarding the components of feeling found in SA/SN suttas, see (p. 113):

Pages 112-4 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (166.6 KB)