Music and Distorted Saññā

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    • #47283

      Vedanā (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways

      I’m glad to read the post which deals with Samphassa-ja-vedana based on the analysis of distorted saññā. Because it solved my long-standing question. A few years ago, I heard an interesting fact from a friend who loves music. According to him, people generally feel joy when they hear a song in major. In minor, they feel sadness. He said that this is evidence that music is the beauty inherent in nature. Over time, I learned that all vedanā initially coming through the five sense faculties(eyes, ears, tongue, nose, and mind) are adukkhamasukha vedanā while studying Abhidhamma. Then, how could people feel a common emotion in general when they listen to a major or minor song? The concept of distorted saññā is essential to answer this question properly. The revised post explains it well. If anyone has any further questions about this phenomenon, please refer to this link. Explaining the phenomenon in Buddha Dhamma is a pretty good vipassana topic to think about deeply. This video helps those who want to explore it.

      In physics, sound is vibrations in air pressure, which are vibrations in the density of the air molecules, that we can sense with our ears. The rate at which these vibrations hit our eardrums is called the frequency of the sound. The frequency is related to the pitch of the sound. So a certain musical note arises from a certain frequency. In other words, the pitch value is only determined by the physical process, not mental. The musical scale is also determined by the physical process because it is any set of musical notes ordered by fundamental frequency. So both major scale and minor scale are not related to mind by itself.

      The phenomenon of feeling good/sad when you hear notes of a specific frequency in a specific pattern is not because the pitch has pleasant/unpleasant characteristics. It is connected to the role of distorted saññā. A manomaya kaya generated by uppatti PS has a certain uppatti bhavanga state depending on “one’s gati” or “the quality of uppatti kamma bhava”. The properties of distorted saññā are according to the given uppatti kamma bhava too. Human enjoys kamaloka’s sensory pleasure. That’s why human bhava is in kama bhava. So human gati has multiple properties to enjoy sensory pleasures. The reason that phenomenon can occur is here. It’s not because certain frequencies have a property that makes people feel good.

      The desire to feel a certain feeling when hearing the sound eventually leads to having a distorted saññā. And it creates the illusion, and so on. Arahant removed all defilements including saññā vipallasa so that he/she can not have distorted saññā. Though arahant has no distorted saññā, he/she still can feel the taste of sugar is sweet, because arahant is in kama dhatu(not kama bhava).

      Please let me know if there is anything wrong. Thank you.

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    • #47287


      • This is precisely how one should do vipassana, not specifically to do what Dosakkhayo did above, but to contemplate critical concepts in many different ways.
      • One should always try to apply new concepts to areas of interest, personal experiences, etc. That helps solidify the concepts in the mind.
      • The more one becomes convinced of the truth of Buddha’s teachings, the easier it will be to progress in losing cravings for worldly pleasures.
      • Even though an average human (puthujjana) cannot even think of a life without “sensory pleasures,” once one truly comprehends the concept of “distorted saññā” one starts to understand why the Buddha said being exposed to sensual pleasures is like being thrown into a fire pit: “Dukkhadhamma Sutta (SN 35.244).”
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    • #47341
      Would like to confirm if Arahants have distorted sanna? The reason why I’m asking is because one post mentions Arahants have distorted sanna while another say’s Arahants don’t.
      Kāma Dhātu (With “Distorted Saññā”) Tied to One’s Uppatti Bhavaṅga

      9. The “kāma dhātu” automatically generates a “distorted saññā” based on one’s uppatti bhavaṅga. Therefore, an Arahant or a puthujjana (average human) will have that initial “distorted saññā.” 

      Remember that a “made-up” saññā arises even in an Arahant if that Arahant was born in the human realm.<br />
      Why Would an Arahant Have “Distorted Saññā“?

      11. That is a consequence of still living with a “vipāka physical body” that the Arahant was born with. Until the death of that physical body, the Arahant must live among other humans.

      • That physical body arose due to a kamma vipāka. It will receive not only the “distorted saññā” corresponding to the human realm but also any kamma vipāka that the physical body was destined to receive. While some minor vipāka may be avoided, any strong vipāka can manifest in the physical body. Thus, living Arahants have to endure injuries, sicknesses, etc. 
      From the most recent post: 
      10. Therefore, taṇhā arises due to “mind-made vedanā.” They arose INSIDE the mind itself and did not come from outside. If external things can cause suffering, we will have to destroy external things to eliminate suffering. However, the Buddha showed that the root causes of suffering are within one’s mind and can be eliminated.
      • There is no inherent suffering or happiness in ANYTHING external; the sensory contact with an external thing CAUSES pain or happiness depending on our gati and āsāvās.
      • An Arahant, who has removed all āsāvās/anusaya/saṁyojana/gati by comprehending the true nature (“yathābhūta ñāna”), is free of “distorted saññā” and therefore of any attachments.
    • #47345

      I have revised the following sentence quoted by TGS at the end:

      An Arahant, who has removed all āsāvās/anusaya/saṁyojana/gati by comprehending the true nature (“yathābhūta ñāna”), is free of “distorted saññā” and therefore of any attachments.”

      • I can see how that could give a wrong impression. 

      That quoted part is in #10 of “Vedanā (Feelings) Arise in Two Ways.” The revision reads as follows:

      “An Arahant will still experience “distorted saññā” while living everyday life (i.e., unless they are in a samāpatti.) But since they have removed all āsāvās/anusaya/saṁyojana/gati by comprehending the true nature (“yathābhūta ñāna”), they are free of attaching to “distorted saññā.

      • That means an Arahant fully comprehends how that “distorted saññā” arises. That means not merely understanding the mechanism but also meditating/contemplating it to convince the mind that it is a “trick.” 
      • Let me give an analogy for that latter point. An alcoholic may learn that drinking leads to health issues and even causes death. However, some alcoholics, even after comprehending that fact, still cannot get rid of their “drinking habit.”  They must continually contemplate the harmful consequences of drinking to get rid of that habitual drinking. 
      • There is a definite “turning point” in regards to “attaching to the distorted saññā.” As one contemplates the concept of “distorted saññā”, “kāma rāga” (one of the ten samyojana that bind one to the rebirth process) wears out gradually and eventually disappears. That is when one gets to the Anāgāmi stage and is free of rebirths in kāma loka. An Arahant has progressed even beyond that and removed “rupa rāga” (cravings for rupāvacara jhāna) and “arupa rāga” (cravings for arupāvacara samāpatti) as well. They are free of rebirths in rupa loka and arupa loka as well.
      • It is essential to get this right. Let me know if there are any further questions.

      P.S. Comprehending this “nature’s trick” of “distorted saññā” also helps one reach the Sotapanna stage. It makes it easier to see the “anicca nature,” i.e., the futility/dangers of attaching to worldly things.

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    • #47354

      Thank you very much for the revision and the additional explanation, for me that makes things more clear now. Thank you once again.



    • #47355

      I need to write a post to fully describe what I tried to explain with the analogy of an alcoholic in the above comment.

      • There is a difference between hearing about a new concept from an Ariya (the Buddha called that “jānato“) and fully getting that concept to “sink into the mind” (which the Buddha called “passato“).
      • One gets to the “jānato” step by learning a concept from an Ariya (kalyāna mitta). The rest (“passato“) is up to that person. 
      • An alcoholic who is unable to give up his drinking habit — even after learning about the dangers of being addicted to alcohol — is at the “jānato” stage. Some don’t try hard enough to reach the “passato” stage.
      • Of course, any kalyāna mitta would do their best to help anyone get to the “passato” stage. It is challenging to explain deep concepts in Buddha Dhamma with short essays. One needs to make their best effort to understand; if certain statements are not clear enough (as in this discussion), don’t hesitate to point that out. That will help others, too.
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