Goenka said: It is clear that vedana as a part of the nama that is firmly rooted in kaya is what the Buddha wanted us to focus on when he talked about
meditation to eradicate suffering.
The suttas do not conform with this. To quote:
On cognizing an idea with the intellect, he isn't infatuated with pleasing ideas, and doesn't get upset over unpleasing ideas. He dwells
with body-mindfulness established, with unlimited awareness. Having thus abandoned compliance & opposition, he doesn't relish any feeling he feels — pleasure, pain, neither-pleasure-nor-pain — doesn't welcome it, doesn't remain fastened to it. As he doesn't relish that feeling, doesn't welcome it, & doesn't remain fastened to it, delight doesn't arise. From the cessation of his delight comes the cessation of clinging. MN 38
"If anyone were to say, 'Feeling at the intellect is the self,' that wouldn't be tenable. The arising & falling away of the intellect are
discerned. And when its arising & falling away are discerned, it would
follow that 'My self arises & falls away.' That's why it wouldn't be
tenable if anyone were to say, 'The intellect is the self. MN 148
Goenka said: This is also the reason why brahmas from arupabrahmaloka cannot practise Vipassana
MN 1 & MN 111 states vipassana can be practised on arupa jhana. To quote:
the dimension of the infinitude of space as the dimension of the infinitude of space... the dimension of the infinitude of
consciousness as the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness...
the dimension of nothingness as the dimension of nothingness... the
dimension of neither-perception-nor-non-perception as the dimension of
neither-perception-nor-non-perception...does not conceive as 'mine'
Goenka said: and why the Buddha could not give Dhamma to his past teachers of arupa jhanas (seventh and eighth jhanas/dhyanas).
The Buddha could not give Dhamma to his past teachers because they died. Refer to MN 26.
In the fifth to eighth jhanas, jhanas the mind is set free from the body and thus there is no experience of vedana.
MN 111 explains there is vedana in arupa jhana. To quote:
Sariputta entered & remained in the dimension of the infinitude of consciousness. Whatever qualities there are in the dimension of the
infinitude of consciousness — the perception of the dimension of the
infinitude of consciousness, singleness of mind, contact, feeling,
perception, intention, consciousness, desire, decision, persistence,
mindfulness, equanimity, & attention — he ferreted them out one after
Goenka said: Therefore, these brahmas lack rupa and cannot experience body-sensations. Hence, the practice of the awareness of vedana is not
possible for them and they cannot walk on the path of liberation.
'Vedana' does not mean 'body-sensations'. To quote:
And why do you call it 'feeling' ('vedana')? Because it feels, thus it is called 'feeling.' What does it feel? It feels pleasure, it feels pain, it
feels neither-pleasure-nor-pain. Because it feels, it is called
feeling. SN 22.79
In fact, what are generally regarded as 'body-sensations' or 'stress' are generally 'sankhara' (mental formations of lust, hatred & delusion) that condition & get stored in the physical body rather than 'vedana' (pleasant & unpleasant feelings). To quote:
For him — infatuated, attached, confused, not remaining focused on their drawbacks — the clinging to the five aggregates head toward future
accumulation. The craving that makes for further becoming —
accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now this & now that —
grows within him. His bodily disturbances & mental disturbances grow.
His bodily torments & mental torments grow. His bodily distresses &
mental distresses grow. He is sensitive both to bodily stress & mental
stress. MN 149