Here is my answer from SE. It’s not a claim or anything, just a hypothesis based on my reading of SN48.40. This sutta was very helpful in understanding my emotional states of stress. I hadn’t realized that there was a progression until I read the sutta. Indeed, what’s interesting is that in MN121, there is only the slightest modicum of stress, so this sutta helped me understand the whole progression of suffering:
In this sutta, the following five faculties are transcended as one enters various jhanas:
- pain: first jhana
- sadness: second jhana
- pleasure: third jhana
- happiness: fourth jhana
- equanimity: “ninth jhana”
Pain is coarser than sadness, for both householders and Noble Ones.
For a householder, someone sad over the death of a loved one might not notice ongoing pain from illness or injury–the personal sadness exceeds the personal pain.
For a mendicant, as personal bodily aches and pains recede with first jhana, one becomes more aware of the immense suffering of others and a sadness arises out of that awareness. Or an older mendicant might feel sadness arise from realizing that Nibbana might be personally unreachable in this very life.
One can also personally experience the relative coarseness of pain vs. sadness without jhana in regular meditation. It’s actually quite interesting to meditate when one is in pain and/or suffering. They both attenuate, but pain attenuates first.
Lastly, just because sadness or pain disappears does not mean one has attained one the above jhanas–there are other conditions. There are also different degrees of pain and sadness.