Friday, August 12, 2011

Does It Feel Good, Or Not?

Why do I spend so much time focusing on vedana?

Because learning about it and then becoming aware of it in my own meditative experience, has changed the way I dwell in each moment. Vedana was the missing piece I did not know about, and the awareness of which made the difference between being stuck, and experiencing the freedom from wholeness.

I like to hear different teachers' take on it. This morning, I reread U. Tejaniya - in Awareness Alone is Not Enough:
U Tejaniya: Vedana is an activity of the mind. There is a difference between this activity of feeling and our perception of it as pleasant, unpleasant, neutral. Vedana means feeling or 'sensing' something, feeling into something, wile pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral is our interpretation of feeling. 
Student: So do we need to be mindful of this feeling process or the qualities of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral?
U Tejaniya: We need to know both, and it is important to understand that they represent different functions of the mind, the aggregates of feeling and perception. The function of perception is to interpret feeling as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The function of vedana is just to feel.
Student: That means we need to be mindful of the activity of vedana as separate and distinct from the pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral?
U Tejaniya: Yes, that's right. You can also make further distinctions between feelings. When the mind interprets a particular sensation as a bodily pleasant feeling, it will usually immediately give rise to a pleasant mental feeling. When the body sensations are interpreted as unpleasant (dukkha), it will usually give rise to an unpleasant mental feeling. The reaction to neutral feelings in the body will be equanimity.
Student: Do vedana and perception always work together?
U Tejaniya: Yes, vedana touches everything, together with consciousness and other mental factors. You experience the world through this activity of vedana.
Student: Is it difficutl to become aware of vedana? It is very subtle?
U Tejaniya: Yes, it is quite subtle. Neutral feelings are already quite subtle in comparison to pleasant or unpleasant ones. the process of vedana is even more subtle than that. It is not easy to become aware of it. Becoming aware of the mind at work takes a lot of practice; it is not an ordinary knowing, it is a very subtle understanding process.
U Tejaniya's description really speaks to my experience. There is the bodily sensing, and then the labeling of pleasant, unpleasant, or combination of both. I find the mind is programmed to hastily hone in on pleasurable or non pleasurable quality in the moment. We are pleasure seeking beings at the core, always in the process of figuring out, does this feel good, or not?

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