Request for clarification about passage from Mindfulness in Plain English

This is a request for clarification concerning a passage in ‘Mindfulness in Plain English’ by Bhante Gunaratana.

The first lack of understanding I have is with what Bhante G means when he writes, “When we bundle our form, feeling, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness up into one and try to watch all of them as feeling, we get confused, as we will not be able to see the source of feeling. If we simply dwell upon the feeling alone, ignoring other mental factors, our realization of truth becomes very difficult.” (Bhante G, Page 45, third paragraph). To me, the first and second sentences seem to have contradictory points. The first sentence seems to mean that we should not watch all of the mental factors together. Yet, the second sentence says that we should not dwell on feeling alone and not ignore the other mental factors. Can someone help make sense of this?

The second lack of understanding I have regards ‘bodily sensations’ according to Bhante G. He writes, “When we mindfully watch our bodily sensations, we should not confuse them with mental formations, for bodily sensation can arise without anything to do with the mind. For instance, we sit comfortably. After a while, there can arise some uncomfortable feeling on our back or in our legs. Our mind immediately experiences that discomfort and forms numerous thoughts around the feeling. At that point, without trying to confuse the feeling with the mental formations, we should isolate the feeling as feeling and watch it mindfully. Feeling is one of the seven universal factors.” (Bhante G, Page 45, second paragraph). Does this passage suggest that both the sensation of a sore back and the sensation of fear are ‘bodily sensations’?

Here’s a link to ‘Mindfulness in Plain English’ by Bhante Gunaratana ( Mindfulness In Plain English : Bhante Gunaratana : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive ). This link directs to an online copy of the book which is freely available. “This book is strictly for free distribution” is marked within the beginning of the book.

I haven’t revisited the book, so just going by the quotes here.

The 4 foundations of mindfulness includes mindfulness on the body, feeling, mind and dhamma. So there’s the answer. It doesn’t bundle everything into feeling and doesn’t ignore others and just go to feelings. But we can only have one thing on the mind at one time. So when doing mindfulness of feelings, it is just mindfulness of feelings. Just remember to do mindfulness of body, mind etc at other times as well.

That’s what I understand from the quoted passage.

Feelings is of 2 kinds: arisen due to body or mind. And feelings is also of 3 kinds: pleasant, unpleasant or neither.

Mental formations adds onto feelings to produce what we call emotions, including fear, joy, Loving kindness, anger, greed, lust, etc.

Just watch the basic feeling, not get lost in emotion. Of course, initally it is not easy to discern the difference as emotions are so fast. Just try to see if this emotion has pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feeling. That’s the way to be mindful of feelings.

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