MN44 understanding the 3 types of feeling

Just compare two translations of MN 44 by Ven. Sujato and Ven. Thannisaro.

“But ma’am, what is the counterpart of pleasant feeling?”
“Sukhāya panāyye, vedanāya kiṃ paṭibhāgo”ti?

“Painful feeling.”
“Sukhāya kho, āvuso visākha, vedanāya dukkhā vedanā paṭibhāgo”ti.

“What is the counterpart of painful feeling?”
“Dukkhāya pannāyye, vedanāya kiṃ paṭibhāgo”ti?

“Pleasant feeling.”
“Dukkhāya kho, āvuso visākha, vedanāya sukhā vedanā paṭibhāgo”ti.


“Now what, lady, lies on the other side of pleasant feeling?”

“Passion lies on the other side of pleasant feeling.”

“And what lies on the other side of painful feeling?”

“Resistance lies on the other side of painful feeling.” [7]

Bhante @sujato to me, ven. Thannisaro’s translation make much sense.

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“What is the counterpart of neutral feeling?”
“Adukkhamasukhāya panāyye, vedanāya kiṃ paṭibhāgo”ti?

“Adukkhamasukhāya kho, āvuso visākha, vedanāya avijjā paṭibhāgo”ti.

“What is the counterpart of ignorance?”
“Avijjāya panāyye, kiṃ paṭibhāgo”ti?

“Avijjāya kho, āvuso visākha, vijjā paṭibhāgo”ti.


I can’t make sense out of above. Counterpart of ignorance should be neutral feelings.
If I take previous post about pleasant feeling and painful feelings.

This passage is one of my favorites. Exactly because of the expectation that the symmetry is dual, our minds get caught with surprise. What this crucial phrase says to me is that the neutral feeling can be ignored into ignorance or explored into knowledge. In other words, be very mindful when having a neutral feeling. It is a double trap for the mind. We can get trapped in ignorance or get trapped in the mindless pursuit of knowledge.

The fantastic part of the wording is that the wording itself triggers the neutral feeling. The wording made you post your question. You had a neutral feeling. Now THAT is elegant.


“For pleasant feeling, friend Visākha, the tendency to passion underlies it, for unpleasant feeling the tendency to repulsion underlies it, for neither-unpleasant-nor-pleasant feeling ignorance underlies it.” SuttaCentral

A translation by Ven Anandajothi.

By this you mean what.

Perhaps this conunndrum is comming from the following phrase.

Neutral feeling is pleasant when there is knowledge, and painful when there is ignorance


This reminds me this article by Bhikkhu Analayo.

I think this discussion has moved a bit outside the range of errors or typos… may one of the mods perhaps split this into a separate thread? @Nadine? @Aminah?

Thanks! :pray:


Moved and new topic made. Thanks for letting us know :slight_smile:

  1. When facing a neutral feeling we can dismiss it as unimportant and ignore it. In this way ignorance grows. This happens with conventional boredom and the infamous “been there done that”.

  2. Or we can pursue it delighting in new knowledge (i.e., feed the grasping aggregates). This happens with obsession about learning.

  3. Or we can understand enough to relinquish the neutral feeling. Imagine being shown an iPhone for the first time. With equanimity, we would ask for a demo, then go on our way without dismissal or obsession.

Because of MN44 and the above personal understanding, I have restrained my sense of curiousity per #3. Before, I used to do #2. As a result my time is better spent and my decisions are sufficiently informed without obsession with possiblities. This is why I like MN44–it has improved my life.


I understand above phrase like this:

  • When I have neutral feelings I get bored. So I come here to the forum or open up the fridge and looking for some food or try to call a friend. That is called the neutral feeling with ignorance.
  • When I do meditation I have the nerutral feelings. That is called the neutral feeling with knowledge.
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SarathW1, come to the Dark Side of Ignorance. Bwhahahaha!



Interesting. I don’t tend to notice neutral feelings that much.

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This is the secret key to the fourth Jhana.

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The way to do this ‘professionally’ is to watch neutral feelings, and indeed all feelings begin and fade.

You would need to be intentionally mindful. I recall a meditation master once telling me that a stream entrant’s mindfulness [or the level of mindfulness needed for stream entry or to become a stream entrant] is aware of phenomena as it arises, whilst everyone else only become aware when it has gone past the beginning and somewhere in the middle, so that they don’t really see ‘arising and passing away’. This of course, might only be possible at a retreat, when the mind has samadhi and is very quiet and mindfulness is very sensitive of subtle phenomena.

You don’t need to be aware of any particular feeling to reach it! But equnamous feelings are part of the fourth jhana of course!



If I see a pleasant sight or taste it can develop into cravings… and even further into attachments, and actions which are unwholesome, and sometimes when I describe it like this some think it’s not my own experience. But it is a result of ‘mapping’ my knowledge of the suttas on to my experiences that make it sound like straight from the texts! Sometimes I note pleasant feelings can end up, going through cravings, attachments and into a visual image which I think is bhava or a (potential) plane of existence, which can lead to rebirth (if enough good karma is present) and it will also require a body to re-experience that which is craved.

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