A Manual of Abhidhamma

by Nārada Thera | 80,494 words | ISBN-13: 9789380336510

In the Abhidhammattha Sangaha there is a brief exposition of the Law of Dependent Origination, followed by a descriptive account of the Causal Relations that finds no parallel in any other philosophy. Edited in the original Pali Text with English Translation and Explanatory Notes by Narada Maha Thera....

Summary of Feeling

Vedanā - Sangaho

§ 2.

Tattha vedanāsangahe tāva tividha vedanā: - sukham, dukkham, adukkhamasukham' ti. Sukham, dukkham, somanassam, domanassam, upekkhā'ti ca bhedena pana pañcadhā hoti.

§ 3.

Tattha sukha-sahagatam kusala-vipākam kāyaviññānam ekam'eva.

§ 4.

Tathā dukkha-sahagatam akusala-vipākam kāyaviññānam.

§ 5.

Somanassa - sahagata - cittāni pana lobhamulāni cattāri, dvādasā kāmāvacarasobhanāni, sukhasantīrana - hasanāni ca dve' ti atthārasa kāmāvacara cittāni c'eva, pathama-dutiyatatiya-catutthajjhāna-sankhātāni catucattālīsa Mahaggata-Lokuttaracittāni c'āti dvāsatthividhāni bhavanti.

§ 6.

Domanassa-sahagata cittāni pana dve patigha-cittān'eva.

§ 7.

Sesāni sabbāni'pi pañcapannāsa upekkhāsahagata-cittān' evā'ti.

§ 8.

Sukham dukkham-upekkhā'ti tividhā tattha vedanā
Somanassam domanassam iti bhedena pañcadhā.
Sukham'ek'attha dukkhañ ca domanassam dvaye thitam.
Dvāsatthisu somanassam pañcapannāsaketarā.



§ 2.

In the summary of feeling (3) there are at first three kinds: - pleasurable (4), painful, and that which is neither pleasurable nor painful. Or, again, it is fivefold - namely, happiness, pain, pleasure, displeasure, and indifference or equanimity.

§ 3.

Of them, moral resultant body-consciousness is the only one accompanied by happiness.

§ 4.

Similarly immoral resultant body-consciousness is the only one accompanied by pain.

§ 5.

There are sixty two kinds of consciousness accompanied by pleasure (5) - namely:

  1. the eighteen types of Sense-sphere consciousness, such as four rooted in attachment, twelve types of sense-sphere Beautiful consciousness, the two types of investigating and smiling consciousness,
  2. forty-four types (6) of Sublime and Supramundane consciousness pertaining to the first, second, third, and fourth Jhānas. (12 + 32)

§ 6.

Only the two types of consciousness connected with aversion are accompanied by displeasure (7).

§ 7.

All the remaining fifty-five types of consciousness are accompanied by indifference or equanimity (8).

§ 8.

Feeling, therein, is threefold - namely, happiness, pain, and indifference. Together with pleasure and displeasure it is fivefold.

Happiness and pain are found in one, displeasure in two, pleasure in sixty-two, and the remaining (indifference or equanimity) in fifty-five.


Notes -

3. Vedanā is a significant mental state which is common to all types of consciousness. Feeling is its characteristic (vedayita-lakkhana), and is born of contact. Sensation, therefore, is not an appropriate rendering for vedanā.

Feeling is defined as: "a conscious, subjective impression which does not involve cognition or representation of an object.''

Sensation is explained as: "the content of sensuous intuition, or the way in which a conscious subject is modified by the presence of an object."

Vedanā modifies the stream of consciousness and serves both as a life-promoting and life-destroying force. Pleasure, for example, promotes life; pain impairs it. As such feeling plays a very important part in the life of man.

Experiencing the taste of an object is the function of vedanā (anubhavana rasa). Particular likes and dislikes depend on the desirability and the undesirability of the external object. Generally they are mechanistic.

Sometimes the freewill of a person determines the mode of feeling independent of the nature of the object. The sight of an enemy, for example, would normally be a source of displeasure, but a right-understanding person would, on the contrary, extend his loving-kindness towards him and experience some kind of pleasure. Socrates, for instance, drank that cup of poison with joy and faced a happy death. Once a certain Brahman poured a torrent of abuse on the Buddha, but He kept smiling and returned love unto him. The ascetic Khantivādi, who was brutally tortured by a drunkard king, wished him long life instead of cursing him.

A bigoted non-Buddhist, on the other hand, may even, at the sight of a Buddha, harbour a thought of hatred. His feeling will be one of displeasure. Likewise a similar feeling may arise in the heart of a bigoted Buddhist at the sight of a religious teacher of an alien faith. What is meat and drink to one, may be poison to another.

Material pleasures, for instance, would be highly prized by an average person. An understanding recluse would find happiness in renouncing them and leading a life of voluntary poverty in perfect solitude. Such a solitary life, a sensualist may view as hell. Yes, what is heaven to one may be hell to another; what is hell to one may be heaven to another. We ourselves create them, and they are more or less mind-made.

"There are, o Bhikkhus, two kinds of feeling-pain and happiness", says the Buddha. Well, then, how can there be a third which is neither pain nor happiness? The commentary states that blameless neutral feeling is included in happiness and the blameworthy in pain.

Again, the Buddha has stated that whatever is felt in this world, all that is pain. It is because of the changeable nature of all conditioned things.

From another standpoint considering all forms of feeling as purely mental, there are only three kinds - namely, happiness (sukha), pain (dukkha), and neutral (adukkhamasukha).

Atthasālini explains them, as follows:-

The term sukha means 'pleasurable feeling' (sukha-vedanā), 'root of happiness' (sukha-mūla), 'pleasurable object' (sukhārammana), 'cause of happiness' (sukha-hetu), 'conditioning state of pleasure, (sukha-paccayatthāna), free from troubles' (abyāpajjhā), 'Nibbāna', etc.

In the expression: "By eliminating sukha" - sukha means pleasurable feeling.

In the expression: "Sukha is non-attachment in this world". Here sukha means root of pleasure.

In the expression: "Since, o Mahāli, form is sukha, falls and descends on sukha". Here sukha means object of pleasure.

"Merit, o Bhikkhus, is a synonym for sukha." Here sukha means cause of pleasure.

"Not easy is it, o Bhikkhus, to attain to heavenly sukha by description". "They know not sukha who do not see nandana". Here sukha means conditioning state of pleasure.

"These states constitute a sukha life in this very world". Here sukha means freedom from troubles.

"Nibbāna is supreme sukha''. Here sukha means Nibbāna.

From these quotations the reader can understand in what different senses the term sukha is used in the texts. In this particular connection the term sukha is used in the sense of pleasurable feeling.

Nibbāna is stated to be supreme bliss (sukha). This does not mean that there is a pleasurable feeling in Nibbāna although the term sukha is used. Nibbāna is a bliss of relief. The release from suffering is itself Nibbānic bliss.

The term dukkha means 'painful feeling', 'basis of pain', object of pain', cause of pain', 'conditioning state of pain', etc.

''By eliminating dukkha" - here dukkha means painful feeling.

"Birth too is dukkha" - here dukkha means basis of pain.

"Since, o Mahāli, form is dukkha, falls and descends on pain" - here dukkha means object of dukkha.

"Accumulation of evil is dukkha" - here dukkha means cause of pain.

"It is not easy, o Bhikkhus, to realize the pain of woeful states by description" - here dukkha means "conditioning states of pain."

In this particular connection the term dukkha is used in the sense of painful feeling.

In the Dhammacakka Sutta the Buddha enumerates eight divisions of dukkha -namely:

  1. Birth is suffering,
  2. decay is suffering,
  3. disease is suffering,
  4. death is suffering,
  5. association with the unpleasant is suffering,
  6. separation from the beloved is suffering,
  7. when one does not obtain what one desires there is suffering,
  8. in brief the Five Aggregates are suffering.

All these are the causes of dukkha.

When the Buddha addresses Devas and men He speaks of eight kinds of dukkha. When He addresses only men He speaks of twelve. Instead of vyādhi (disease) He says soka (grief), parideva (lamentation), dukkha (pain), domanassa (displeasure) upāyāsa (despair) are suffering. All these five are included in vyādhi which embraces both physical and mental disharmony.

Soka, domanassa, and upāyāsa are mental, while dukkha and parideva are physical.

Practically there is no marked difference between the two formulas.

Adukkha-m-asukha is that which is neither pain nor happiness. It is a neutral feeling. This corresponds to both stolid indifference and Stoic indifference. The Pāli term upekkhā, which has a wider connotation, is more frequently used to denote this kind of neutral feeling.

In an immoral type of consciousness upekkhā assumes the role of stolid indifference because it is prompted by ignorance. In an ahetuka resultant consciousness, such as a sense-impression, upekkhā means simple neutral feeling which has no ethical value. Adukkha-m-asukha strictly applies in this connection. Upekkhā latent in a kāmāvacara sobhana citta (Beautiful type of consciousness pertaining to the Sense-sphere) may be any of the following states - simple indifference (not stolid because there is no ignorance), simple neutral feeling, disinterestedness, unbiased feeling, Stoic indifference, and perfect equanimity.

Upekkhā in the jhāna consciousness is perfect equanimity born of concentration. It is both ethical and intellectual.

See Ch. 1, Note 42.

According to a still wider classification vedanā is fivefold namely.

  1. sukha (physical happiness),
  2. somanassa (mental pleasure),
  3. dukkha (physical pain),
  4. domanassa (mental displeasure),
  5. upekkhā (indifference, equanimity, or neutral feeling ) .

All feelings, from an ultimate standpoint, are mental because vedanā is a cetasikā. But a differentiation has been made with regard to sukha and dukkha.

Of all the 89 types of consciousness only two are associated with either sukha or dukkha. One is the body-consciousness associated with happiness, and the other is body-consciousness associated with pain.

Both these are the resultant types of consciousness, effects of good and evil Kamma.

A soft touch, for instance, yields happiness. A pinprick, on the contrary, yields pain. In these cases one experiences the aforesaid two types of consciousness respectively.

Now a question arises - Why only the body-consciousness is associated with happiness and pain? Why not the other sense-impressions?

Mr. Aung provides an answer in his introductory essay to the Compendium: -

"The sense of touch alone is accompanied by the positive hedonic elements of pain and pleasure; the other four senses are accompanied by hedonic indifference. This exceptional distinction is assigned to the sense of touch, because the impact between the sentient surface (pasāda rūpa) and the respective objects of other senses, both sets of which are secondary qualities of body, is not strong enough to produce physical pain or pleasure. But in the case of touch there is contact with one or other, or all the three primary qualities (locality - pathavī, temperature - tejo, pressure - vāyo) and this is strong enough to affect those primary qualities in the percipient's own body. Just as cotton wool on the anvil does not affect the latter, but a hammer striking cotton wool imparts its check to the anvil also.''

(Compendium of Philosophy p. 14).

In the case of touch the impact is strong. The "essentials", pathavī, tejo and vāyo (extension, heat, and motion) - āpo, cohesion, is excluded being intangible - forcibly and directly strike against the essentials of the body. Consequently there is either pain or happiness. In the case of seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting, there is a bare impact. The consequent feeling is neither pain nor happiness.

Although these sense-impressions may be sukha, dukkha, or upekkhā the javana thought processes conditioned thereby may not necessarily be associated with a similar feeling.

For instance, the Buddha experienced a body-consciousness associated with pain when a rock splinter struck His foot, but His javana thought-process conditioned thereby would not necessarily be associate with displeasure. Unaffected by the pain, He would have experienced perfect equanimity. The immanent feeling in the stream of consciousness would have been upekkhā. Similarly at the sight of the Buddha, a right-understanding person would automatically experience an eye-consciousness associated with indifference (upekkhā-sahagata cakkhu-viññāna) but his javana thought would be moral. The innate feeling would be pleasure (somanassa).

This intricate point should be clearly understood.

Somanassa (good-mindedness ) and domanassa (bad-mindedness) are purely mental.

These five kinds of feeling could be reduced to three, the three to two, and the two to one as follows:-

  1. sukha + somanassa; upekkhā; dukkha + domanassa
  2. sukha ; upekkhā; dukkha
  3. sukha; dukkha
  4. dukkha

(Upekkhā is merged in sukha, and sukha is ultimately merged in dukkha).

4. Sukha - physical happiness should be differentiated from somanassa - mental pleasure. So should dukkha - physical pain - be differentiated from domanassa - mental displeasure. There is only one consciousness accompanied by sukha. Similarly there is only one accompanied by dukkha. Both of them are the effects of good and bad actions respectively.

When the Buddha, for instance, was injured by Devadatta Thera, He experienced a body-consciousness accompanied by pain. This was the result of a past evil action of His. When we sit on a comfortable seat we experience a body consciousness accompanied by happiness. This is the result of a past good action. All forms of physical pain and happiness are the inevitable results of our own Kamma.

5. Readers will note that pleasurable types of consciousness exceed all others. As such during a life-time a person experiences more happy moments than painful ones. This does not contradict the statement that life is sorrow (dukkha). Here dukkha is not used in the sense of painful feeling but in the sense of oppression or impeding (pīlana). A careful reading of the description of dukkha, given in the Dhammacakka Sutta will make the matter clear.

6. They are the four kusala jhānas, four vipāka jhānas, four kriya jhānas, and thirty-two lokuttara jhānas. (4 + 4 + 4 + 32 = 44)

7. There is displeasure only in the two types of consciousness connected with patigha or aversion. We experience displeasure when we get angry.

Is there aversion where there is displeasure? Yes, in a gross or subtle form. See Ch. 1. p. 17, n. 10.

8. Viz., 6 akusalas, 14 ahetukas, 12 sobhanas, 3 rūpa jhānas, 12 arūpa jhānas, 8 lokuttaras = 55.

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