VEDANANUPASSANA – The Science of Feelings


What I feel that is, what I don’t feel that is not. This is the common feeling of all. Feelings form an important part of life. The body exists because one feels the body, pain exists because one feels the pain, and pleasure exists because one feels pleasure, and hence the general understanding that I feel therefore ‘I am’ looks as if it is absolutely right. This in turn leads to all other negativity’s like Ego, Pride, selfishness, hatred, jealousy and false view of Soul or Atman.


Buddha taking these very subject of feelings as the basis for his teaching, taught his followers the science of feelings called Vedananupassana also known as the contemplation on feelings and thus leading them on to the path of Sila, Samadhi, and Panya he finally made them realize the ultimate truth of Impermanence, Suffering and No-Self.


Buddha in Dighanaka sutta (M.N.74.11-13 B.P.S.) while explaining the doctrine to Aggivessana says: “Pleasant feeling Aggivessana is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing. Painful feeling too is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing. Neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling too is impermanent, conditioned, dependently arisen, subject to destruction, vanishing, fading away and ceasing.” “Seeing thus, a well taught noble disciple becomes disenchanted with pleasant feeling, disenchanted with painful feeling, disenchanted with neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Being disenchanted he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion his mind is liberated. When it is liberated there comes the knowledge: “It is liberated”. He understands birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what had to be done has been done; there is no more coming to any state of being. “He whose mind is liberated thus, Aggivessana, sides with none and disputes with none; he employs the speech currently used in the world without adhering to it.”


The modern humanity too is suffering from three feelings namely feeling of excitement, feeling of entertainment and feeling of exhaustion. This triangle of triple E’s i.e. excitement, entertainment and exhaustion can be equated to the mystical Bermuda triangle, which pulls anything down to the seabed, by its strange gravitational power. Same is the case with this triple E’s triangle. Firstly one by feeling various things gets excited and runs after it and having entertained himself / herself with it, sooner or later he / she gets exhausted and with an interval this process of excitement, entertainment and exhaustion starts again. This process is repeated again and again throughout one’s life till death.


Buddha with his own effort and wisdom discovered the anti-dotes for these three evil E’s. He taught Sila, Samadhi and Panya. The anti-dote for excitement is sila because it teaches restraint and this restraint is the direct and immediate way to counter excitement. The anti-dote for entertainment is samadhi because when compared to the worldly entertainment with its evil consequences Samadhi is the real happiness with no evil consequences at all. The anti-dote for exhaustion is Panya, which gives the right understanding, and bliss seeked by the suffering and exhausted humans and is born out of through understanding of Impermanence, Suffering and No-Self.(Anitya, Dukkha, Anatta).


The Buddha says of expressions employing the word “I” and “Self”. These are merely names, expressions, turns of speech; designations in common use in the world, which the Tathaagata too uses without misapprehending them. (D.N.9.53/i.202,B.P.S.)


Feelings (vedana) in paticcasamupaada is explained as follows:

Vedana paccaya tanha; -feelings as the base, craving arises;

Tanha paccaya upadanam; - craving as the base, attachment arises;

Upadana paccaya bhava; - attachment as the base, the process of becoming arises;

Bhava paccaya jati; - process of becoming as the base, birth arises;

Jati paccya jara-maranam; - birth as the base, ageing and death arise;

Soka-parideva – together with sorrow, lamentation,

Dukkha-domanassupayasa sambhavanti. – physical & mental sufferings & tribulations.

Evame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa samudayo hoti. – thus arises this entire mass of suffering.


When these very vedana (feelings) are understood properly and one develops detachment and equanimity towards them it leads to the cessation of entire mass of suffering as explained in the following:


Vedana nirodha tanha nirodho; - with cessation of attachment to feelings, craving ceases;

Tanha nirodha upadana nirodho; - with cessation of craving, clinging ceases;

Upadana nirodha -----------------------------------------------------------------------

Eame-tassa kevalassa dukkhakkhandhassa nirodho hoti. - thus the entire suffering ceases.


 Thus Buddha has very well explained how delusive are the feelings of I, Self, Ego etc. These feelings when misapprehended develops false view thereby leading human beings to greed, hatred and delusion.


Here naturally a question arises if there is no I or self, who gets the results of kamma. The Buddha in answer said: “I have taught you, O bhikkhus, to see conditionality everywhere in all things i.e.


Imasmim sati idam hoti; - when this is, that is;

Imassupada idam uppajjati; - this arising, that arises;

Imasmim asati idam na hoti; - when this is not, that is not;

Imassa nirodha idam nirujjhati. – this ceasing, that ceases.


In addition to the paticcasamupaada and the conditioned genesis as explained above the Buddha throughout his teaching as stressed to see the reality as it is and experience the ultimate true nature of all things i.e.

Impermanence in permanence,

Suffering in pleasures and

No self in ourselves.

Albert Einstein has rightly said, “The religion in the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogma and theology covering both the natural and the spiritual; it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity. BUDDHISM answers this description.”





                                                                               Ven. M. Vinayarakkhita

                                                                  Dharmayatana, B.T.C.