In relation to the question: "Is there is no benefit and there is no intrinsic positive nature in a pleasant sensation?", I read the following quote from SN 36.5 on the internet:

A mendicant who sees pleasure as pain, one who has seen the pleasant as painful, who sees the pain in happiness, Yo sukhaṃ dukkhato adda,

and suffering as a dart, the painful as a dart, views the painful feeling as a thorn, dukkhamaddakkhi sallato;

and that peaceful, neutral feeling adukkhamasukhaṃ santaṃ,

as impermanent, addakkhi naṃ aniccato.

sees rightly; sa ve sammaddaso bhikkhu,

they completely understand feelings. parijānāti vedanā;

Completely understanding feelings, So vedanā pariññāya,

they’re without defilements in this very life. diṭṭhe dhamme anāsavo;

Not necessarily adhering to the literal translations above:

  1. What is the meaning of the Pali in verse above from Datthabba Sutta?

  2. Does the Datthabba Sutta support the idea: 'there is no benefit and there is no intrinsic positive nature in a pleasant sensation'?

  3. How does the above verse in the Datthabba Sutta reconcile with the Pali verse: "Nibbanam paramam sukham: Nibbana is the supreme happiness"?

  4. Are any of the translations above of the three Western monks accurate so to inspire faith in these ordained Westerners?

  • 1
    Maybe break this question up into several questions since current questions are too comprehensive/complex to address in a single answer. – user19910 Nov 13 '20 at 11:47

MN1 states:

MN1:171.4: ‘Nandī dukkhassa mūlan’ti—

The happiness of nibbana is therefore empty of nandī.

MN1 also states the difficulty of this understanding:

MN1:172-194.31: But the mendicants were not happy with what the Buddha said.

Perhaps the clarification here may help, since there is identification in nandī:

MN1:148-170.24: nibbānaṁ nibbānato abhiññāya nibbānaṁ na maññati, nibbānasmiṁ na maññati, nibbānato na maññati, nibbānaṁ meti na m aññati, nibbānaṁ nābhinandati.
MN1:148-170.24: But he doesn’t identify with extinguishment, he doesn’t identify regarding extinguishment, he doesn’t identify as extinguishment, he doesn’t identify that ‘extinguishment is mine’, he doesn’t take pleasure in extinguishment.


What is the meaning of the Pali in verse above from Datthabba Sutta?

  1. SN 22.59 says the five aggregates are impermanent, unsatisfactory (dukkham) & not-self, which are called the three characteristics.

  2. Many suttas, such as SN 22.1, clearly show the word 'dukkha' in relation to the three characteristics does not mean suffering or pain but, instead, refers to the potential of impermanent things to bring suffering when clung to or the incapacity of impermanent things to bring real lasting happiness. For example, SN 22.1 says feelings (vedana) are related to suffering (sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief & despair) only when clung to as "I", "me" & "mine".

  3. It logically follows the Datthabba Sutta does not say "pleasure as pain" or "the pleasant as painful" or even "pain in happiness" as the translators translated.

  4. Logically, if sukha was painful then sukha would be a "dart" or "sallato".

  5. While pleasant feelings can be a "dart" ("sallato") in comparison to Nibbana, this is not the teaching in the Datthabba Sutta.

  6. The word "dukkhato" or "dukkhata" means "state, nature or characteristic of unsatisfactoriness; capacity to bring suffering or incapacity to bring real happiness". A synonym for "dukkhato" is "danger" or "bait" ("agha"). "Dukkhato" is used in relation to the three characteristics in AN 6.99, in Thig 1.14 or as follows:

Khandhe aniccato disvā, dukkhato ca anattato; Khepetvā āsave sabbe, arahattamapāpuṇiṃ. Thi Ap 26

  1. The Datthabba Sutta says the wise person sees the "potential for suffering" or "danger" or "unsatisfactoriness" or "imperfection" in pleasant feelings.

  2. The Datthabba Sutta does not say pleasant feelings are painful, as the translators literally & illogical say.

  3. If pleasant feelings were painful, why would many suttas, such as AN 4.41, say jhana is a pleasant abiding here & now (diṭṭhadhammasukhavihārāya).

  4. While the 3rd translation of "pain in happiness" is the best of these three errors, it remains an error. The translation should be "potential suffering of the pleasant" or "unsatisfactoriness of the pleasant". "Sukha" here does not mean "happiness".

  5. Note: "sukkham" in the Datthabba Sutta does not mean "happiness". The Datthabba Sutta is about vedana or feelings and the translation should be "the pleasant" or "pleasant feelings". The Datthabba Sutta says:

Pleasant feeling should be seen as suffering. Painful feeling should be seen as a dart. Neutral feeling should be seen as impermanent.

Sukhā, bhikkhave, vedanā dukkhato daṭṭhabbā, dukkhā vedanā sallato daṭṭhabbā, adukkhamasukhā vedanā aniccato daṭṭhabbā.

  1. The Datthabba Sutta further says the wise person sees the impermanent state of neutral feelings.

  2. In conclusion, the Datthabba Sutta does not infer: "there is no benefit in a pleasant sensation". Instead, the Datthabba Sutta simply says, in accordance with the Dhamma, that pleasant & neutral feelings are impermanent & are unsatisfactory; they are not perfect or permanent happiness; they are fraught with danger if clung to.

  3. It follows the Dhammapada 203 says: "Nibbana is the supreme happiness" because true Nibbana is a permanent happiness that excludes the danger or suffering of clinging.

  4. Thus Nibbana is a not a "pleasant feeling". The word "sukha" in Dhammapada 203 does not mean "pleasant feeling" but means "happiness"; just as the word "sukha" in the Datthabba Sutta does not mean "happiness" but means "pleasant feelings".

  5. Thus only a fool would agree with the translation: "Who sees the pain in happiness" because: (i) there is no pain in Nibbana; and (ii) the Datthabba Sutta is not about "happiness" but is about "pleasant feelings".


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