2

SN 36.23 translated by Bhikkhu Sujato says:

Then a mendicant went up to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and said to him:

Atha kho aññataro bhikkhu yena bhagavā tenupasaṅkami; upasaṅkamitvā bhagavantaṃ abhivādetvā ekamantaṃ nisīdi. Ekamantaṃ nisinno kho so bhikkhu bhagavantaṃ etadavoca:

“Sir, what is feeling? What’s the origin of feeling? What’s the practice that leads to the origin of feeling?

“katamā nu kho, bhante, vedanā, katamo vedanāsamudayo, katamā vedanāsamudayagāminī paṭipadā?

What’s the cessation of feeling? What’s the practice that leads to the cessation of feeling?

Katamo vedanānirodho, katamā vedanānirodhagāminī paṭipadā?

And what is feeling’s gratification, drawback, and escape?”

Ko vedanāya assādo, ko ādīnavo, kiṃ nissaraṇan”ti?

“Mendicant, there are these three feelings:

“Tisso imā, bhikkhu, vedanā—

pleasant, painful, and neutral.

sukhā vedanā, dukkhā vedanā, adukkhamasukhā vedanā.

These are called feeling.

Imā vuccanti, bhikkhu, vedanā.

Feeling originates from contact.

Phassasamudayā vedanāsamudayo.

Craving is the practice that leads to the origin of feeling.

Taṇhā vedanāsamudayagāminī paṭipadā.

When contact ceases, feeling ceases.

Phassanirodhā vedanānirodho.

The practice that leads to the cessation of feelings is simply this noble eightfold path, that is:

Ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo vedanānirodhagāminī paṭipadā, seyyathidaṃ—

right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.

sammādiṭṭhi … pe … sammāsamādhi.

The pleasure and happiness that arise from feeling: this is its gratification.

Yaṃ vedanaṃ paṭicca uppajjati sukhaṃ somanassaṃ, ayaṃ vedanāya assādo;

That feeling is impermanent, suffering, and perishable: this is its drawback.

yaṃ vedanā aniccā dukkhā vipariṇāmadhammā, ayaṃ vedanāya ādīnavo;

Removing and giving up desire and greed for feeling: this is its escape.”

yo vedanāya chandarāgavinayo chandarāgappahānaṃ, idaṃ vedanāya nissaraṇan”ti.

Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation is more accurate, here:

There are, bhikkhu, these three feelings: pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. This is called feeling. With the arising of contact there is the arising of feeling. Craving is the way leading to the origination of feeling. With the cessation of contact there is the cessation of feeling. This Noble Eightfold Path is the way leading to the cessation of feeling; that is, right view … right concentration.

In the above sutta and often elsewhere, it is said" "With the arising of contact there is the arising of feeling". Also, other suttas say: "With the arising of feeling there is the arising of craving".

This being so, how is craving the practice that leads to the origin of feeling?

  • 2
    Please see the same question and answers provided on the DW site: Origination of feelings – santa100 Nov 30 '18 at 4:35
  • Thank you. I attempted to read your answer on DW however I could not make sense of it. – Dhammadhatu Nov 30 '18 at 10:13
  • The DW site on this topic is just squabbling. – Dhammadhatu Dec 2 '18 at 5:41
3

The Mahayana answer would be that Vedana does not refer to feeling arising from an actual contact with an actual external object. Instead, Vedana is a subjective experience of feeling attributed to a subjective experience of contact with a subjective idea of an object. Basically, Vedana is a thought: "that thing that was over there, now that I have it right here, gives me this feeling of comfort (or this feeling of discomfort, or this neutral feeling)".

So, while Vedana depends on a subjective experience of contact as its immediate cause, more fundamentaly it depends on that idea of a desirable external object.

According to Mahayana interpretation of Twelve Nidanas, the process of dependent origination is actually cyclical, not linear. It's explained in twelve steps for ease of presentation but in actuality it represents a spiral of a self-enforcing tendency. The elements that later become Craving and Vedana are present in rudimentary/latent form even at the Formations(Tendencies) stage (the second Nidana) and get stronger as things get more concrete.

So at the root of the process is ignorant tendency of the basic mind to get settled into certain experiences which are then considered comfortable, and their opposites are considered uncomfortable. As the mind develops it learns to seek those comfortable experiences and avoid uncomfortable ones. This tendency to seek and avoid develops into ability to delineate entities (objects and the subject) and attribute qualities to them based on one's attitude. The experience of those qualities at the time of subjective "contact" is Vedana.

So Vedana, both comfortable (but transient, and therefore eventually uncomfortable) and directly uncomfortable, depends on this tendency to seek comfortable experiences attributed to external entities. That's what Craving refers to in short. After all, craving is always craving for an external something because of its implied promise to bring an internal experience of the right nature.

That's why Buddha says Craving is a practice (or path) that leads to Vedana. Because we attribute qualities arising in our mind to external entities, then we crave and pursue those entities (or avoid them), then we experience something as result, then we identify that experience as coming from the entity. This is Vedana.

Attributing perceptual qualities that in fact come from our mind to entities we have delineated out of totality of our experience, and then forming attitude to those entities, of either craving or avoidance, is the activity that leads to the illusory experience of pain and happiness.

  • Assuming (or given) that is Mahayana, do you know whether any other school of Buddhism would see any of it (e.g. "the process of dependent origination is actually cyclical, not linear") as unorthodox? – ChrisW Dec 1 '18 at 6:05
  • Because I thought that was all orthodox. Maybe the last bit (i.e. that perception of objects is mind-made, "we attribute qualities arising in our mind to external entities") is a bit Mahayana-ish, a drum that's beaten more by later doctrines. – ChrisW Dec 1 '18 at 6:11
  • Interesting answer, possibly similar to my answer, but, as i have suggested before, some references would be useful and more professional, to support your claims Mahayana teaches this & that. Thank you for your effort. – Dhammadhatu Dec 1 '18 at 6:57
  • @ChrisW, sorry I wasn't clear - I meant it's cyclical even inside the twelve nidanas, not across multiple iterations of 12. The delineation, attribution of qualities, craving, craving-based action - develop in circles, perhaps thousands of times, and all of this goes through phases of maturity with main milestones described as twelve Nidanas. Salistamba Sutta hints at it, while the oral commentary in Karma Kagyu lineage makes it more clear. I don't think this is how orthodox Theravada sees it though, they interpret it as spanning three lives, while I say it happens at the representation level. – Andrei Volkov Dec 1 '18 at 14:14
1

Paṭipadā is placing at the same position of upādāna (clinging), so we can find the answer in the sutta that including clinging, craving, and feeling together, such as the four noble truth in Sutta. See Saṃ. Ma. DhammacakkappavattanaSutta:

"Now this, monks, is the noble truth of stress:1 Birth is stressful, aging is stressful, death is stressful; sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair are stressful; association with the unbeloved is stressful, separation from the loved is stressful, not getting what is wanted is stressful. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are stressful.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

The feeling is an aggregate, and the craving origins clinging-aggregates, so the practicing of craving origin the feeling aggregate. See Sutta. Ma. U. Mahāpuṇṇamasuttaṃ:

"Monk, these are the five clinging-aggregates, i.e., form as a clinging-aggregate, feeling... perception... fabrications... consciousness as a clinging-aggregate."

Therefore, the last question in SN 36.23 is about the noble eightfold path of the four noble truth:

Q:What’s the origin of feeling? katamā nu kho, bhante, vedanā?

...

A: Feeling originates from contact. Phassasamudayā vedanāsamudayo.

...

Q: What’s the practice that leads to the origin of feeling? katamo vedanāsamudayo, katamā vedanāsamudayagāminī paṭipadā?

...

A: Craving is the practice that leads to the origin of feeling. Taṇhā vedanāsamudayagāminī paṭipadā.

...

Q: What’s the cessation of feeling? Katamo vedanānirodho?

...

A: When contact ceases, feeling ceases. Phassanirodhā vedanānirodho.

...

Q: What’s the practice that leads to the cessation of feeling? katamā vedanānirodhagāminī paṭipadā?

...

A: The practice that leads to the cessation of feelings is simply this

noble eightfold path, that is:

Ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo vedanānirodhagāminī paṭipadā,

seyyathidaṃ—

right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right

livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right immersion.

sammādiṭṭhi … pe … sammāsamādhi.

...

1

Contact is the condition for the arising of feeling. Feeling is the condition for the arising of craving. Craving is the condition for the arising of clinging.

So, how is craving the way that leads to the origin of feeling?

Well, craving is also a latent tendency (raganusaya).

In this way, craving as a latent tendency is the way that leads to the origin of suffering (which is actually the second noble truth, SN 56.11), and feeling is part of this suffering (as stated in SN 36.23).

Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote as commentary (quoted by Piya Tan) on the Cetana Sutta (SN 12.38-40):

sankhārā are referred to elliptically by the expressions yaṁ ceteti, "what one will," and yaṁ pakappeti, "what one plans" (pakappeti is a rare term, apparently synonymous with ceteti). The expression yaṁ anuseti, 'what lies latent within,' points to the anusaya, the latent tendencies, which other texts tell us include the latent tendency of ignorance (avijjânusaya) and the latent tendency of lust or craving (rāgânusaya) [M 1:190 f, 1:303 etc]. Thus, this sutta is stating that when one forms volitions on the basis of ignorance and craving, these volitions become a support which grounds consciousness and establishes it in a new existence. Once consciousness becomes so established, it sets in motion the entire production of the new existence, beginning with birth and ending with death, accompanied by all the attendant suffering.

0

Interesting question I read on DW; which I considered worthy of sharing & consideration. I think SN 36.23 might indicate the word "samudhaya" relates to the arising of suffering (rather than to the arising of non-suffering or neutral phenomena). The use of "samudhaya" in SN 36.23 is similar to the use of "samudhaya" in relation to the Four Nutriments (in MN 9, MN 38, etc). Of course, any suttas showing otherwise would invalidate my theory.

MN 148, for example, refers to two cases where the arising of feeling is based on sense contact. The 1st case is leading to suffering and the 2nd case is not leading to suffering. Therefore, the arising of feeling in MN 148 is "neutral" (because the arising of suffering depends on the arising of craving). In MN 148, the word used for the neutral arising of feeling is uppajjati, as follows:

mind consciousness arises dependent on the mind and thoughts. The meeting of the three is contact. Contact is a condition for the arising of what is felt as pleasant, painful, or neutral.

manañca, bhikkhave, paṭicca dhamme ca uppajjati manoviññāṇaṃ, tiṇṇaṃ saṅgati phasso, phassapaccayā uppajjati vedayitaṃ sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā.

Similarly, SN 35.43, which is about knowing the impermanence of feelings without craving leading to Nibbana, uses the word uppajjati:

And the pleasant, painful, or neutral feeling that arises conditioned by eye contact is also impermanent.

Yampidaṃ cakkhusamphassapaccayā uppajjati vedayitaṃ sukhaṃ vā dukkhaṃ vā adukkhamasukhaṃ vā tampi aniccaṃ … pe …

Returning to MN 148, whenever it uses the word "samudhaya", it refers to it in relation to evil defiling suffering things, such as:

When you experience a neutral feeling, if you don’t truly understand that feeling’s origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape,

Adukkhamasukhāya vedanāya phuṭṭho samāno tassā vedanāya samudayañca atthaṅgamañca assādañca ādīnavañca nissaraṇañca yathābhūtaṃ nappajānāti.

Now, mendicants, this is the way that leads to the origin of identity.

Ayaṃ kho pana, bhikkhave, sakkāyasamudayagāminī paṭipadā—

You regard the eye like this: ‘This is mine, I am this, this is my self.’

cakkhuṃ ‘etaṃ mama, esohamasmi, eso me attā’ti samanupassati;

Similarly, SN 22.5 says the "arising" ("samudhaya") of the aggregates is attachment. Naturally, attachment is suffering.

And what is the origin of form, feeling, perception, choices, and consciousness?

Ko ca, bhikkhave, rūpassa (sing; gen) samudayo (sing; nom), ko vedanāya samudayo, ko saññāya samudayo, ko saṅkhārānaṃ samudayo, ko viññāṇassa samudayo?

It’s when a mendicant approves, welcomes and keeps clinging.

Idha, bhikkhave, bhikkhu abhinandati abhivadati ajjhosāya tiṭṭhati.

Therefore, in SN 36.23, it appears vedanā samudaya refers to when feeling is arising dependent on ignorance or craving in the stream of dependent origination that ultimately leads to suffering (rather than mere feeling arising dependent on mere sense contact).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.