Deepening Insight: Teachings on vedanā in the Early Buddhist Discourses
The ensuing pages present a selection of passages from the early Buddhist discourses that provide perspectives on the cultivation of liberating insight into vedanā, "sensation," "feeling," or "feeling tone." For meditators, such passages can be of considerable help as a reference point for deepening insight.
A metaphor that can offer considerable help when facing vedanās describes bubbles arising on the surface of a pond during rain...they arise and soon enough burst and disappear. Contemplation of the changing nature of vedanā provides a firm foundation for the growth of insight into not self. Such insight proceeds through successive layers of the mind's ingrained habit of self-referentiality. Based on relinquishing the explicit view of affirming the existence of a permanent self, increasingly subtler traces of conceit and possessiveness need to be successively overcome until with full awakening all selfing in any form will be removed for good.
Deepening Insight is based on textual sources that reflect "early Buddhism," which stands for the development of thought and practices during roughly the first two centuries in the history of Buddhism, from about the fifth to the third century BCE. These sources are the Pāli discourses and their parallels, mostly extant in Chinese translation, which go back to instructions and teachings given orally by the Buddha and his disciples. In those times in India, writing was not employed for such purposes, and for centuries these teachings were transmitted orally. The final results of such oral transmission are available to us nowadays in the form of written texts. Bhikkhu Anālayo's presentation is meant to provide direct access, through the medium of translation, to the Chinese Āgama parallels to relevant Pāli discourses. In commenting on such passages, his chief concern throughout is to bring out practical aspects that are relevant to actual insight meditation.