The Definition, Practice, and Psychology of Vedanā
Knowing How It Feels
This book examines the importance of the topic of ‘feeling tone’ (vedanā) as it appears in early Buddhist texts and practice, and also within contemporary, secular, mindfulness-based interventions.
The volume aims to highlight the crucial nature of the ‘feeling tone’ or ‘taste of experience’ in determining mental reactivity, behaviour, character, and ethics. In the history of Buddhism, and in its reception in contemporary discourse, vedanā has often been a much-neglected topic, with greater emphasis being accorded to other meditational focuses, such as body and mind. However, ‘feeling tone’ (vedanā) can be seen as a crucial pivotal point in understanding the cognitive process, both in contemporary mindfulness and meditation practice within more traditional forms of Buddhism. The taste of experience, it is claimed, comes as pleasant, unpleasant, and neither pleasant nor unpleasant – and these ‘tones’ or ‘tastes’ inevitably follow from humans being embodied sensory beings. That experience comes in this way is unavoidable, but what follows can be seen in terms of reactivity or responsiveness.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Contemporary Buddhism.
Table of Contents
Introduction – Vedana: What Is in a ‘Feeling?’
John Peacock and Martine Batchelor
1. Hedonic Hotspots, Hedonic Potholes: Vedana Revisited
Akincano M. Weber
2. Defining Vedana: Through the Looking Glass
3. Why Be Mindful of Feelings?
4. Vedana or Feeling Tone: A Practical and Contemporary Meditative Exploration
5. The ‘Sensation of Doubt’ in East Asian Zen Buddhism and Some Parallels with Pali Accounts of Meditation Practice
Robert E. Buswell Jr
6. Feelings Bound and Freed: Wandering and Wonder on Buddhist Pathways
Anne C. Klein (Rigzin Drolma)
7. Vedana and the Wisdom of Impermanence: We are Precipitants within the Experiments of the Universe
Paul R. Fleischman
8. Feeling is Believing: The Convergence of Buddhist Theory and Modern Scientific Evidence Supporting How Self Is Formed and Perpetuated Through Feeling Tone (Vedana)
Judson A. Brewer
9. Serious Illness, Overwhelmingly Unpleasant Feeling Tone of Life, and How Even Incipient Mindfulness Training May Sometimes Help
10. Vedana of Bias: Latent Likes and Dislikes Fuelling Barriers to Human Connection
11. Vedana, Ethics and Character: A Prolegomena
John Peacock is a meditation teacher, scholar, and retired co-director of the master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy at the University of Oxford, UK.
Martine Batchelor is a former Buddhist nun, a meditation teacher, and author of a number of works on Buddhism. She is based in France.