I read the following in the internet:

All feelings are categorically classed as unpleasant in the Dhamma...'Three feelings have been spoken of by the Blessed One: a feeling of pleasure, a feeling of pain & a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain.,,,Now in what connection was this stated by the Blessed One: "Whatever is felt comes under stress (yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmin)"

Why are pleasant feelings "stressful" & "unpleasant"?

If all feelings are unpleasant, why are some feelings called "pleasant"?

4 Answers 4


This is what it says in MN 44 sutta.

"Pleasant feeling is pleasant in remaining, & painful in changing, friend Visakha. Painful feeling is painful in remaining & pleasant in changing. Neither-pleasant-nor-painful feeling is pleasant in occurring together with knowledge, and painful in occurring without knowledge."

  • Keep reading the sutta: ""Passion-obsession gets obsessed with pleasant feeling." ... "Passion lies on the other side of pleasant feeling.".... Regardless, the above answer does not appear to answer the question. I marked it down. Nov 13, 2020 at 22:37

Greed for pleasant feelings is stressful because it is unpleasant when they disappear as they always do. Feelings are impermanent. Greed is never satisfied.

MN44:24.2: “Pleasant feeling is pleasant when it remains and painful when it perishes.

Giving up greed, a pleasant feeling is just pleasant.

MN44:27.2: “The underlying tendency to greed should be given up when it comes to pleasant feeling. The underlying tendency to repulsion should be given up when it comes to painful feeling. The underlying tendency to ignorance should be given up when it comes to neutral feeling.”

Yet even for the Realized Ones, free of greed, without wishes, experiencing bliss, stress remains.

MN121:12.1: They understand: ‘Here there is no stress due to the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, or ignorance. There is only this modicum of stress, namely that associated with the six sense fields dependent on this body and conditioned by life.’

And that slightest stress, conditioned by life, infuses what remains until the final extinguishment.

  • 1
    While i think this is not an answer, at least MN 44 appears to be understood. Nov 14, 2020 at 19:31
  • Apologies. I had misunderstood the question as simple. The question asked is actually much deeper. My own understanding here extends only to MN121. Not being an arahant I can offer no more. The answer is updated.
    – OyaMist
    Nov 15, 2020 at 0:27

Because, Brahman Element, feelings are conditioned, saṅkhārs, not real, not lasting, not to be bought under ones control, can not be made ones own: anicca. And what can not be regarded as own, changeable, inconstant, is stressful and subject to suffering.

Feelings are subjective and when ever taken as own, when ever pleased by what ever touch, someone perceives it as pleasing.

The Buddha discusses the range of possible pleasures and joys, and concludes by advocating a pleasure that goes beyond feeling: Bahuvedaniya Sutta — The Many Kinds of Feeling

..."And what, Ananda, is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that? There is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. This is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that. Now it's possible, Ananda, that some wanderers of other persuasions might say, 'Gotama the contemplative speaks of the cessation of perception & feeling and yet describes it as pleasure. What is this? How can this be?' When they say that, they are to be told, 'It's not the case, friends, that the Blessed One describes only pleasant feeling as included under pleasure. Wherever pleasure is found, in whatever terms, the Blessed One describes it as pleasure.'"

[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, world-binding trades or to nurish wrong pride, but for escape from this wheel]

  • i marked this answer down because: (i) what is changeable, inconstant, is not necessarily stressful and subject to suffering; as taught in SN 22.1; and (ii) feelings or vedana are obviously not "subjective" because all Arahants experience feelings yet Arahants are free from subjectiveness or self. For example, all Arahants will feel the same pain if their limbs are sliced off by saws. Nov 14, 2020 at 4:08
  • Who cares about Brahman Elements vedanas... not to speak about his slandering rants... where there is no touch there is no feeling. Nov 14, 2020 at 4:10
  • You don't care about what is taught in SN 22.1? And how is one afflicted (ātura) in body but unafflicted in mind? There is the case where a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones does not assume form to be the self, or the self as possessing form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form. He is not seized with the idea that 'I am form' or 'Form is mine.' As he is not seized with these ideas, his form changes & alters, but he does not fall into sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, or despair over its change & alteration. Nov 14, 2020 at 4:35
  • There might be some who still think it's of worth to give into Brahman Elements confused rants. May he do, think as he like and consider it not as an answer on his behave. Nov 14, 2020 at 10:28
  • I suggest to reflect upon this: buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/43196/… Nov 14, 2020 at 11:02

SN 36.11 says:

Good, good, bhikkhu! These three feelings have been spoken of by me: pleasant feeling, painful feeling, neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. These three feelings have been spoken of by me. And I have also said: ‘Whatever is felt is included in dukkha [dukkhasmin; locative case].’ That has been stated by me with reference to the impermanence of formations. That has been stated by me with reference to formations being subject to destruction … to formations being subject to vanishing … to formations being subject to fading away … to formations being subject to cessation … to formations being subject to change.

The word 'dukkha' above refers to 'dukkha' as one of the three characteristics rather than 'dukkha' as meaning 'pain' or 'dukkha' as meaning 'suffering'.

Asian translators have no trouble with the different meanings of 'dukkha' but the Western translators appear to struggle and translate illogically. For example the Asians:

Now, that which is impermanent, is it unsatisfactory or satisfactory? Unsatisfactory, O Lord. SN 22.59 translated from the Pali by N.K.G. Mendis

"All conditioned things are unsatisfactory" — when one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering. This is the path to purification. Dhammapada translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita

It appears SN 36.11 says anything that is felt is included within the characteristics of impermanence & unsatisfactoriness.

The Geoffrey DeGraff translation of: "Whatever is felt comes under stress" appears to be an error. Feelings are not stressful to minds not attached to feelings, as stated in countless sutttas, such as Iti 44, MN 37, MN 38, MN 148, SN 22.1, SN 36.6, etc, etc, etc.

Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand.

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