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When that pleasant feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the body.

from MN 36 Maha-Saccaka Sutta translated by Thanissaro.

Pleasant feeling (vedanā) is not limited to five senses, but can also be experienced by the mind. To understand the sutta, it seems important to understand what exactly is meant by development of the body.

When that painful feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the mind.

Here the Buddha makes a clear distinction here between 'development of the body' and 'development of the mind', and from MN 119

[The Blessed One said:] "And how is mindfulness immersed in the body developed, how is it pursued, so as to be of great fruit & great benefit?

What did the Buddha mean by 'development of the body' versus 'development of the mind'?

Then, how does one develop the body?

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I only quickly browsed the sutta (not reading it all) but the question seems to not really be relevant to the Buddha because it was not the Buddha that introduces the phrase: "development of the body". Instead, it was Saccaka the Jain that introduced the phrase, probably from Jainism.

Then Saccaka the Nigantha...said to the Blessed One, "There are, Master Gotama, some brahmans & contemplatives who live committed to the development of the body..."

The Buddha answered as follows, which is just the standard teaching about development of mindfulness & wisdom in relation to the six spheres of sense contact:

And how is one developed in body and developed in mind? There is the case where a pleasant feeling arises in a well-educated disciple of the noble ones. On being touched by the pleasant feeling, he doesn't become impassioned with pleasure, and is not reduced to being impassioned with pleasure. His pleasant feeling ceases. With the cessation of the pleasant feeling there arises a painful feeling. On being touched with the painful feeling, he doesn't sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat his breast or becomes distraught. When that pleasant feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the body. When that painful feeling had arisen in him, it didn't invade his mind and remain because of his development of the mind. This is how one is developed in body and developed in mind."

When suttas are read, such the often cited SN 44.10 which is about 'self' & 'no-self' (rather than about the Buddha's doctrine of 'not-self'), I suggest we should be very careful about putting words into the Buddha's mouth based on terms used in questions made by non-Buddhists.

Another example is the Tevijja Sutta, in which the Buddha answers questions to Brahmans, yet some scholars believe it is about Nibbana.

Asked about the path to union with Brahma, the Buddha explains it in terms of the Buddhist path, but ending with the four brahmaviharas; the abbreviated way the text is written out makes it unclear how much of the path comes before this; Robert Gombrich has argued that the Buddha was meaning union with Brahma as synonymous with nirvana. Wikipedia

Similarly, the Buddha often uses the term 'nama-rupa' in answers to questions made by Brahmans. Since the Brahmans did not know the Buddha's teachings, the term 'nama-rupa' in these contexts probably retains the Brahmanistic meaning.

  • It appears to be standard for the Buddha to answer a question by quoting it back word-for-word, which explains why 'development of mind' and 'development of body' are distinguished in this sutta. The meaning that is important to understand I think is to develop mindfulness. – avatar Korra Oct 9 '16 at 0:16
  • Also the quote most taken from sutta MN 36 is probably "I am no longer afraid of that pleasure that has nothing to do with sensuality, nothing to do with unskillful mental qualities..." for discussions on the Middle Way – avatar Korra Oct 9 '16 at 0:25
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There Buddha said "The developed body" and "The developed mind" (I deliberately changed the word development of to developed because it would be more closer meaning to Buddha speech by following).

How you can have "developed mind" and "developed body" in Buddha teaching in this particular Sutta?

Developed Body

When a student of Buddha who has moderated mind and knowledge in teachings has pleasing sensation. Like having pleasing view by eyes, pleasing sound by ears, pleasing smell by noses, delicious and/or pleasing taste by tongue, pleasing touch by delicate fabrics/material(s) or by a touch of human being. One of the five senses of pleasing or very pleasing which make him/her "out of the world" feeling happens. Then this very clever student has his/her mind in a way that he/she does not leave the mind where it pleases, does not leave this pleasing sensation to overwhelm his/her mind (it does not make him/her obsession). He/she does not let his/her mind to follow the sensation. He/she does not let go Sati; he/she has Sati while he/she has pleasing sensation, Sukha. This is the one who has "developed body".

Developed Mind

When a student of Buddha who has moderated mind and knowledge in teachings has unpleasing sensation (suffering or very unpleasing sensation). Like having unpleasant view by eyes, unpleasant sound by ears, unpleasant smell by noses, unpleasant taste by tongue, unpleasant touch or pain in body. One of the five senses of unpleasing or very unpleasing which make him/her feel the pain happens. Or the pleasant sensation described above is ceased to persist or depleted. Then this very clever student has his/her mind in a way that he/she does not leave the mind where it sticks himself/herself to feel the pain and allow himself/herself to let crying, lamenting, burning, loosing consciousness;he/she does not leave this unpleasing sensation to overwhelm his/her mind (it does not make him/her angry, sad). He/she does not let his/her mind to follow the sensation. He/she does not let go Sati; he/she has Sati while he/she has unpleasing sensation, Dukkha. This is the one who has "developed mind".

The rest of the Sutta said when Buddha was being a monk he had Dukkha when he did asceticism (limiting food intake himself, limiting breath), Dukkha Vedana cannot overwhelm his mind. When he had Sukha Vedana (Dhyana Sukha which much more powerful and stronger than Sukha Vedana by five senses [Karma Sukha]), it cannot overwhelm Buddha's mind too. It is recommended to read the whole sutta to respect more on Buddha, to behave like Buddha when we have sufferings or pleasing sensations. This will lead you escape from all sufferings and guidance to attain Nirvana.

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