In terms of the effects of the attainment of arahantship over the arising of feelings (vedana):

Do Arahants experience the arising of non-neutral (pleasure or displeasure) mental feelings?

According to Sallatha Sutta, an Arahant will still experience physical feelings of pleasure and pain, but he will just see those feelings as feelings.

What does this mean?

If physical pleasure/pain arises, he will not experience a mental pleasure/pain? Or he just feel it without the arising of aversion, craving and ignorance?

What happens in the case of the practice of Jhana? Doesn't that count as mental pleasure?

If mental pleasure and pain are eradicate, does this mean that every mental phenomena will be felt as a neutral phenomena?

For example: If a non-arahant person feels an unpleasent feeling when seeing a corpse or when thinking about a corpse, will the presence of such phenomenon (the corpse, or the idea of a corpse) will still give rise to an unpleaseant feeling after attaining arahantship?

If the training under the Noble Eightfold Path helps to change the way the noble one feels the world, does this mean that everything feels neutrally after attaining Nibbana?

EDIT: to make this clearer, I'll be more specific.

I'm trying to fit what has been said above with what I read and interpret from Sallatha Sutta.

On one side, I see that physical painful stimuli does not give rise to mental feeling. On the other hand, in MN 152, we see that a noble one seem to have some tendencies and inclinations toward some preferences over others, but he reacts with equanimity to the arising of liking and disliking.

So, does the training changes all non-neutral feeling to neutral feelings, or changes the way the noble one responds to non-neutral feelings?

If an arahant-to-be had a preference for pizza over tacos, will that remain the same after Nibbāna?

What do the suttas tell us about this or your experience tell us about this?

Thanks in advance for your time!

Kind regards!


3 Answers 3


In the sutta, the Buddha stated that when encountering a painful physical feeling, due to aversion, an uninstructed worldling will generate a painful mental feeling. Now he has two painful feelings, instead of one.

On the other hand, the Arahant, when he feels painful or pleasant physical feelings, he doesn't have aversion or lust/greed, so he doesn't generate any painful or pleasant mental feelings. Also, he would not try to seek pleasure to distract himself from pain.

However, it does not say that the Arahant cannot generate pleasant mental feelings due to jhana. It is clear that the Arahant will not generate painful mental feelings because he is free from greed/lust, aversion and delusion. However, he can still generate pleasant mental feelings due to jhana and possibly also due to other non-greed/lust causes (e.g. metta).

In other words, the sutta only says that the Arahant does not generate painful or pleasant mental feelings out of painful or pleasant physical feelings. However, it does not imply that the Arahant will never generate pleasant mental feelings.

From SN 36.6:

“Bhikkhus, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling, he does not sorrow, grieve, or lament; he does not weep beating his breast and become distraught. He feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one. Suppose they were to strike a man with a dart, but they would not strike him immediately afterwards with a second dart, so that the man would feel a feeling caused by one dart only. So too, when the instructed noble disciple is contacted by a painful feeling … he feels one feeling—a bodily one, not a mental one.

“Being contacted by that same painful feeling, he harbours no aversion towards it. Since he harbours no aversion towards painful feeling, the underlying tendency to aversion towards painful feeling does not lie behind this. Being contacted by painful feeling, he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the instructed noble disciple knows of an escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure. Since he does not seek delight in sensual pleasure, the underlying tendency to lust for pleasant feeling does not lie behind this. He understands as it really is the origin and the passing away, the gratification, the danger, and the escape in the case of these feelings. Since he understands these things, the underlying tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling does not lie behind this.

“If he feels a pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a painful feeling, he feels it detached. If he feels a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he feels it detached. This, bhikkhus, is called a noble disciple who is detached from birth, aging, and death; who is detached from sorrow, lamentation, pain, displeasure, and despair; who is detached from suffering, I say.

  • Thanks, Ruben! How do you think we should interpret MN 152? Kind regards! Aug 27, 2019 at 18:07
  • Talking about MN 152: Well, for an unenlightened person, surely liking and disliking (i.e. greed/lust and aversion) may arise for the six senses. The Buddha teaches here that one should abandon these and resort to equanimity. The pleasant feeling that arises from jhana is not liking. Liking is experiencing greed/lust towards the pleasant feeling arising from jhana. There are suttas stating that such people who cling to the bliss of jhana would not become enlightened, instead they would be reborn as brahmas (however you interpret "reborn" to mean).
    – ruben2020
    Aug 28, 2019 at 15:40

From MN121, where the Buddha discusses his current practice with Ananda, we have:

They understand: ‘This field of perception is empty of the perception of the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance.

There is only this that is not emptiness, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’

In other words, the Buddha was fully aware of his present circumstances yet not burdened by craving, aversion or delusion. A meal would be a meal. A mosquito bite would be a mosquito bite. There would be no delusions that wanting more or wanting less would be of any value.

Note that "conditioned by life" does allow for things like avoiding peanuts if one is allergic or taking medicines such as insulin as needed. It also allows for cultural food preferences, since those are often tied to genetics. For example, some cultures tend towards lactose intolerance while others rely on dairy products and that "preference" is largely dictated by genetics. However, I find it really difficult to imagine any arahant expressing a preference for a frappuccino over a latte.

  • Thanks, OyaMist! In your opinion, if an arahant-to-be had a preference for such and such meals, will tha preference still be there after attaining Nibbana? Kind regards! Aug 27, 2019 at 18:12
  • Brian, thanks for your comment. I've added another paragraph to explore this gray area. Hopefully that may help.
    – OyaMist
    Aug 28, 2019 at 13:37

Arahat will feel the physical pain. Say an Arhat steps on a pebble. This will b painful. He will not have the mental proliferation which adds to the physical pain because one is suffering about what happened mentally.

An Arhat will feel the pleasure of Jhana but this is purely mind born. I believe what Sallatha Sutta mentions is if one experience pleasure of pain physically this will not have a mental ripple of thoughts which are unpleasant or pleasant.

  • Rupa jhana = physically born Aug 27, 2019 at 10:36

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