Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:56 pm

Had a discussion about this with somebody recently.

Recently, I started indulging in food as a source of enjoyment, because I stopped using drugs, food, and porn. I eat oranges and candy just whenever, because it tastes good. It's something I hadn't really done that much before. Then, tonight, in the middle of the night I woke up starving for no reason. Coincidence? I'm kinda curious to know: For monks that only eat once a day, once you've adopted that pattern for a while, are you ever hungry other than the times when you're supposed to eat?

I started to wonder if I'd ever be able to enjoy sex again, because I found I'd been able to will away the desire for it, did so repeatedly (in the mornings), abstained from pornography, and no longer had any interest... which is odd, because if I had a girlfriend, wouldn't that make me impotent? So I looked at porn again. At first, it was boring. I repeated the activity again -- better! Now the desire is back! But that's not good. So I'm going back to abstinence and asexuality again to keep my mind clear. Because that kind of desire can make you irrational, make you want to have unprotected sex which results in STDs or unintended pregnancies. The Christian idea of "sex only in marriage," seems now to me to be a really great idea, or at least cut down on the promiscuity.

So anyway, in my experience, the way that we relate to pleasure is always simply habitual. Monks (at least the good ones) are able to have no interest in any sensual pleasure because they've habitually willed themselves to have no interest out of rationality or necessity, and eventually, the feeling of desire no longer arises either. Don't indulge and you won't ever need to.

So, I don't think it's skillful to indulge in pleasure -- ever. Because then the feeling of craving comes up.

Watching TV fills your head with all sorts of bad ideas of things you don't really need or have to worry about. When you're driving, talking and listening to music is a subtle distraction from paying attention to the road.

Another example... Our water heater doesn't work very well, so we only have like 10 minutes or so of hot water at a time. Recently, though, I've dealt with it, by turning the temperature down a bit... And I find that the "comfortable" temperature is whatever it is you've habitually set it at. Some of us when we bathe or shower turn the water to as hot as it could be (I used to) and then, a lukewarm shower or bath feels "cold" when it isn't really cold at all.

You see this, too, when people from colder climates travel abroad and describe average weather as hot... And people from warmer climates describe average weather as cold... But is it really the weather that's hot or cold?

Is any of this correct? Am I wrong for having a puritanistic way of thinking?

I've heard it said there's a difference between pleasure and "craving" for pleasure. Seems bogus to me, like a justification to just keep indulging.

A little bit of pleasure is OK for laypeople making merit, but every moment of indulging in pleasure creates a guaranteed future desire to repeat that same activity. But because of the inconstancy of things, you might not be able to repeat that activity, and that sucks. In situations like that, you have to indulge irrationally or engage in difficult and uncomfortable self-restraint.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Viscid » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:13 pm

Image
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 883
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Ben » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:41 pm

Individual wrote:I'm kinda curious to know: For monks that only eat once a day, once you've adopted that pattern for a while, are you ever hungry other than the times when you're supposed to eat?
Not that I am a monk, but...on a recent long retreat I was effectively eating one meal a day. Just a couple of pieces of bread and a cup of tea for breakfast and at lunch a portion that was approx 1/3 to 1/4 of what i would normally eat during a meal. I only felt hunger twice, and that was aftr 'noble silence' was lifted near the end of the course. During the course, an unintended benefit was the loss of 20kg of weight.

Individual wrote:The Christian idea of "sex only in marriage," seems now to me to be a really great idea, or at least cut down on the promiscuity.
I agree, but I don't think it will be very popular.

Individual wrote:So anyway, in my experience, the way that we relate to pleasure is always simply habitual.
Yes, SN Goenka talks about this, at times sub-conscious, habitual reaction to pleasant, unpleasant and neutral vedanas during his ten-day courses.

Individual wrote:Monks (at least the good ones) are able to have no interest in any sensual pleasure because they've habitually willed themselves to have no interest out of rationality or necessity, and eventually, the feeling of desire no longer arises either. Don't indulge and you won't ever need to.
a better way to deal with it is to simply observe while generating equanimity to the object. As you have seen from your own experience, willing self-restraint doesn't eradicate the root defilement.

Individual wrote:So, I don't think it's skillful to indulge in pleasure -- ever. Because then the feeling of craving comes up.
Craving (and aversion) arises dependent on vedana. But if one can develop equanimity towards vedana than one can interrupt the process of creating new craving (or aversion).

Individual wrote:Watching TV fills your head with all sorts of bad ideas of things you don't really need or have to worry about. When you're driving, talking and listening to music is a subtle distraction from paying attention to the road.
Then turn it off, or use it to stay informed of local and international news.

Individual wrote:Am I wrong for having a puritanistic way of thinking?.
No, the maintenance of perfect sila is essential and the bedrock of practice.

Individual wrote:I've heard it said there's a difference between pleasure and "craving" for pleasure. Seems bogus to me, like a justification to just keep indulging.
See above.

Individual wrote:A little bit of pleasure is OK for laypeople making merit, but every moment of indulging in pleasure creates a guaranteed future desire to repeat that same activity.

Not necessarily. Certainly if one is unmindful. So long as the activity is not in breach of the precepts, then if one is ardent, aware and clearly comprehending the rise and fall of phenomena (atapi sampajjano satima), then there is no craving, no attachment.
I hope that helps.

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15973
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby budo » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:49 pm

This is something that I've been trying to iron out for a while now.

I've come to the conclusion that pleasure can not be avoided, and should not be avoided either. There is nothing wrong with pleasure, just as their is nothing wrong with pain. Accept it for what it is.

However, there is something wrong with attachment. Watching a movie, or eating tasty food is ok as long as you reflect on the karma of it and do not get attached to it. This also means you shouldn't go searching for pleasure, but if it arises, let it arise. You don't go searching for pain do you? So you shouldn't go searching for pleasure.

You can tell if you have attachment to something if you desire it when you are not doing it, however you can tell you don't have attachment for something when you don't care whether it's there or not. For example, I don't care for television, so I don't care if the TV is on or off, it's the same thing to me. When I watch it, I may have pleasure from it, but I don't really care when it's off, broken, or if someone took it.

I think this what is meant by "neither pleasure or plain", you are neither running away from or clining to the object, it is just there. Displeasure and Pleasure are both hindrances. The goal is to neutralize the displeasure and pleasure, not convert things that are pleasurable to displeasure because you're trying to avoid them, this will only make your life hell. I've been there, where I tried to eliminate all "pleasures", but this does not work, suffering cannot eliminate suffering, this is not the middle way.

I hope that helps.

Budo
“An effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely.” - George Orwell
User avatar
budo
 
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2010 12:16 am
Location: Canada

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Nibbida » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:30 am

My take on this is that neither pleasure nor pain are to be avoided but to be experienced with mindfulness & equanimity. Clinging to pleasure causes craving, and resisting pain results in suffering. It's virtually impossible to avoid pleasure entirely. Attempts to do so, or to make it unpleasant can ultimately result in the aceticism seen in sramanas in the Buddha's time who were haggard (e.g. Mahavira).

Even "sex only in marriage" doesn't solve the problem. There's room for craving there too, and being married doesn't magically protect one from engaging in porn or masturbation. I'm not disparaging that choice, but just saying that challenges continue to exist there as well.

What you're experiencing is called "addiction transfer." Your mind/brain is used to getting a certain amount of pleasurable stimulation. So when you remove that, there are withdrawal symptoms (changes in mood, irritability, etc.) So the tricky tricky mind starts to look for alternate means of getting the same stimulation. Gambling, sex, spending, eating, drugs, alcohol, etc. When you restrict one, it tries to compensate with another. People who get bariatric surgery for obesity sometimes go on spending or gambling sprees. People who quit drinking go on sugar binges or dive into relationships.

Moderation is much much harder than abstinence. With alcohol, drugs, & gambling abstinence is possible. Moderation is the goal with eating, spending, and sex (unless one is celibate). Suppressing sex drive is easier than engaging in sexual activity moderately.

I've heard it said there's a difference between pleasure and "craving" for pleasure. Seems bogus to me, like a justification to just keep indulging.


The difference between pleasure and craving for pleasure is the difference between vedana and tanha/upadana.

I don't know where you're located, but you might check to see if there are any Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention programs available, or a therapist who integrates mindfulness in addiction treatment. It's mindfulness training specifically geared at dealing with addiction cravings. I'm sure you already have the mindfulness practice underway, so this would just help you hone your ability to recognize and deal with addictive cravings. There are also a few books available that apply the Eightfold Path to addiction recovery.

In this video Shinzen Young talks about how he broke his marijuana addiction by doing an U Ba Khin lineage retreat (I don't know if it was Goenka, but probably):


For whatever it's worth...

I wish you well in your situation. People do overcome this, even if it takes many attempts. "Fall down seven times, get up eight."
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

Facebook Meditation Page: http://snurl.com/yoga9vipassana
User avatar
Nibbida
 
Posts: 459
Joined: Sat May 02, 2009 3:44 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Euclid » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:19 am

Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful? Depends how you define 'indulgence' I guess. DN29 (Pasadika Sutta) can shed some light:

“These are the four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, which conduce absolutely to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ?

1. Firstly, Cunda, when a brother, aloof from sensuous appetites, aloof from evil ideas, enters into and abides in the First Jhana, wherein there is initiative and sustained thought which is born of solitude and is full of zest and ease.”

2. “Secondly, when suppressing initiative and sustained thought, he enters into and abides in the Second Jhana, which is self-evoked, born of concentration, full of zest and ease, in that, set free from initial and sustained thought, the mind grows calm and sure, dwelling on high.”

3. “Thirdly, when a brother, no longer fired with zest, abides calmly contemplative, while mindful and self-possessed he feels in his body that ease whereof Ariyans declare : He that is calmly contemplative and aware, he dwelleth at ease, so does he enter into and abide in the Third Jhana. ”

4.”Fourthly, by putting aside ease and by putting aside mal-aise, by the passing away of the joy and the sorrow he used to feel, he enters into and abides in the Fourth Jhana, rapture of utter purity of mindfulness and equanimity, wherein neither ease is felt nor any ill.”

” These four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, conduce to utter unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to insight, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. ”


” It may happen, Cunda, that Wanderers teaching other doctrines than ours may declare : For those who live addicted and devoted to these four modes of pleasure, brother, how much fruit, how many advantages are to be expected ? Them you should answer thus : Four kinds of fruit, brother, four advantages are to be expected. What are the four ? ”


1. “Firstly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of the three fetters becomes a Stream-winner, saved from rebirth in the four states of deprivation hereafter, certain to attain Enlightenment. ”

2.”Secondly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of three fetters has so diminished passion and hate and illusion that he has become a Once- Returner, and returning but once to this world will make an end of ill. ”

3.”Thirdly, the case of a brother who, by the complete destruction of the five last fetters, will be reborn in another world, thence never to return, there to pass away. ”

4. “Fourthly, the case of the brother who, by the destruction of the mental Intoxicants, has come to know and realize for himself, even in this life, emancipation of intellect and emancipation of insight, and therein abides. These, brother, are the four kinds of fruit, the four advantages to be expected by those who are addicted and devoted to those four modes of pleasure.”
Euclid
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Individual » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:36 am

Euclid wrote:Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful? Depends how you define 'indulgence' I guess. DN29 (Pasadika Sutta) can shed some light:

“These are the four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, which conduce absolutely to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ?

1. Firstly, Cunda, when a brother, aloof from sensuous appetites, aloof from evil ideas, enters into and abides in the First Jhana, wherein there is initiative and sustained thought which is born of solitude and is full of zest and ease.”

2. “Secondly, when suppressing initiative and sustained thought, he enters into and abides in the Second Jhana, which is self-evoked, born of concentration, full of zest and ease, in that, set free from initial and sustained thought, the mind grows calm and sure, dwelling on high.”

3. “Thirdly, when a brother, no longer fired with zest, abides calmly contemplative, while mindful and self-possessed he feels in his body that ease whereof Ariyans declare : He that is calmly contemplative and aware, he dwelleth at ease, so does he enter into and abide in the Third Jhana. ”

4.”Fourthly, by putting aside ease and by putting aside mal-aise, by the passing away of the joy and the sorrow he used to feel, he enters into and abides in the Fourth Jhana, rapture of utter purity of mindfulness and equanimity, wherein neither ease is felt nor any ill.”

” These four modes of being addicted and devoted to pleasure, Cunda, conduce to utter unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to insight, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. ”


” It may happen, Cunda, that Wanderers teaching other doctrines than ours may declare : For those who live addicted and devoted to these four modes of pleasure, brother, how much fruit, how many advantages are to be expected ? Them you should answer thus : Four kinds of fruit, brother, four advantages are to be expected. What are the four ? ”


1. “Firstly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of the three fetters becomes a Stream-winner, saved from rebirth in the four states of deprivation hereafter, certain to attain Enlightenment. ”

2.”Secondly, the case of a brother who by the complete destruction of three fetters has so diminished passion and hate and illusion that he has become a Once- Returner, and returning but once to this world will make an end of ill. ”

3.”Thirdly, the case of a brother who, by the complete destruction of the five last fetters, will be reborn in another world, thence never to return, there to pass away. ”

4. “Fourthly, the case of the brother who, by the destruction of the mental Intoxicants, has come to know and realize for himself, even in this life, emancipation of intellect and emancipation of insight, and therein abides. These, brother, are the four kinds of fruit, the four advantages to be expected by those who are addicted and devoted to those four modes of pleasure.”

Thanks. :)

This thread seems to be roughly the same question.

From what it seems so far: Indulgence in the pleasure of jhana is skillful; indulgence in all other kinds of pleasure is not.

Above, you cite the four cases of wholesome indulgence in pleasure. In that same sutta, it mentions unwholesome indulgences:

“There are four such modes, Cunda, which are low and pagan, belonging to the average majority, unworthy, not associated with good, not conducing to unworldliness, to passionlessness, to cessation, to peace, to higher knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana. What are the four ? ”
1.” Firstly, there is the case of the fool who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in slaying living creatures.”
2. “Secondly, there is the case of one who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in taking what is not given. ”
3.”Thirdly, there is the case of one who takes his pleasure and finds gratification in false statements. ”
4.”Fourthly, there is the case of one who dwells surrounded by, and in the enjoyment of the five kinds of sensuous pleasures.”

I bolded the above part to demonstrate that -- yes, even stuff like music, art, and sex, according to the suttas, these things are bad.

I do not know if there is such a thing as complete knowledge or complete liberation, what is meant by "enlightenment" or "nibbana," but in my experience, even renouncing sensual pleasures creates a foundation for a little bit more knowledge, a little bit more freedom. And you could use that very same knowledge and freedom to seek even more sense pleasures than what you already have. Or if you kept it going forever that would be Nibbana, I suppose.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Goofaholix » Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:10 am

There is nothing wrong with pleasure the issue is with indulgence, ask yourself what motivates indulgence.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1874
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Sylvester » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:42 am

Hi Euclid & Individual

Thanks for the thoughts on the Pasadika Sutta. We could refer to another sutta for an explanation as to why "addiction" and "devotion" to the pleasures of the Jhanas lead to the 4 Fruits and appear blameless. According to the Culavedalla Sutta MN 44, the "raganusaya" (latent tendency to passion) does not underlie the pleasures of the 1st Jhana.

This then needs to be tied back to what raganusaya entails, and you can find the Sallatha Sutta SN 36.6 giving an explanation of it as an avoidable consequence to kayika vedana ("bodily" feelings). Raganusaya, together with patighanusaya and avijjanusaya are avoidable, but in the "uninstructed worldling", these 3 Anusayas are generally unavoidable.

The problem, according to the Chachakka Sutta MN 148 seems to be that what typically happens as a consequence of experiencing a feeling -

"Dependent on the eye & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one relishes it, welcomes it, or remains fastened to it, then one's raganusaya underlies. ....

(same for the other 5 senses)


Note that the MN 148 statement above is carefully couched as a conditional statement, not inevitable.

The Indriyabhavana Sutta MN 152 then lays out how an instructed worldling (ie not yet a Stream-Winner) trains himself to react to vedana -

There is the case where, when seeing a form with the eye, there arises in a monk what is agreeable, what is disagreeable, what is agreeable & disagreeable. He discerns that 'This agreeable thing has arisen in me, this disagreeable thing... this agreeable & disagreeable thing has arisen in me. And that is compounded, gross, dependently co-arisen. But this is peaceful, this is exquisite, i.e., equanimity.' With that, the arisen agreeable thing... disagreeable thing... agreeable & disagreeable thing ceases, and equanimity takes its stance. Just as a man with good eyes, having closed them, might open them; or having opened them, might close them, that is how quickly, how rapidly, how easily, no matter what it refers to, the arisen agreeable thing... disagreeable thing... agreeable & disagreeable thing ceases, and equanimity takes its stance. In the discipline of a noble one, this is called the unexcelled development of the faculties with regard to forms cognizable by the eye. (etc etc for the other 5 senses)


The whole point of the MN 152 instructions seems very much driven towards the prevention of the 3 Anusayas from being stirred.

Coming back to Jhana and raganusaya, if we take MN 44 at face value about the absence of raga and raganusaya in First Jhana, the implication seems to be that the person in Jhana will not be one who "relishes it, welcomes it, or remains fastened to" the pleasure of Jhana. Jhana, it seems, can only be fuelled by "letting go". This leads to the paradoxical issue - how does one get addicted to things which one lets go of?

Unless one were at least a Stream Winner, I'm not sure if it would be helpful to develop a distaste for feelings, as outlined in MN 152's treatment of a Sekkha's training. Any such distaste or negativity towards pleasure will in itself be a reaction to a conceptually unpleasing idea, thereby triggering a rash of patighanusaya.
Sylvester
 
Posts: 1501
Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2009 9:57 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:49 am

Individual wrote:Recently, I started indulging in food as a source of enjoyment,


"And how does the disciple of the noble ones know moderation in eating? There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones, considering it appropriately, takes his food not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification, but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' This is how the disciple of the noble ones knows moderation in eating.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:54 am

Individual wrote:So I looked at porn again. At first, it was boring. I repeated the activity again -- better! Now the desire is back! But that's not good.


Bhikkhus, when one attends carelessly, unarisen sensual desire arises and arisen sensual desire increases and expands ...
Bhikkhus, when one attends carefully, the unarisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness arises and the arisen enlightenment factor of mindfulness goes to fulfilment by development ...
SN46.35 (transl. by Bhikkhu Bodhi)


Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby ground » Fri Jan 21, 2011 4:56 am

And how bhikkhus is one subject to decline? Here, bhikkhu, when a bhikkhu has seen form with the eye ... heard sound with the ear ... cognized a mental phenomenon with the mind ... there arise in him evil unwholesome states, memories and intentions connected with the fetters. If a bhikkhus tolerates them and does not abandon them, dispel them, put an end to them, and obliterate them, he should understand this thus: 'I am declining away from wholesome states. For this has been called decline by the Blessed One'
SN35.96 (transl. by Bhikkhu Bodhi)


Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby dhammapal » Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:20 am

I've heard that for schizophrenics playing loud music drowns out the voices.
dhammapal
 
Posts: 652
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:23 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:05 am

Ben wrote:
Individual wrote:So, I don't think it's skillful to indulge in pleasure -- ever. Because then the feeling of craving comes up.


Craving (and aversion) arises dependent on vedana. But if one can develop equanimity towards vedana than one can interrupt the process of creating new craving (or aversion).



Can you say more about this, Ben?

:anjali:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:17 am

Mindfulness as taught by the Buddha.
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby christopher::: » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:24 am

TMingyur wrote:Mindfulness as taught by the Buddha.


Specifically though, in regards to "equanimity towards vedana"... a few descriptions perhaps of how some here have done this successfully with the kinds of sense pleasures Individual mentioned?

That would be helpful. Thanks!
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:32 am

There is the case where a monk remains focused ...ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world.
...
And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world
...
B. Feelings

"And how does a monk remain focused on feelings in & of themselves? There is the case where a monk, when feeling a painful feeling, discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling.' When feeling a pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling.'

"When feeling a painful feeling of the flesh (better "worldly"), he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh (better "unworldly"), he discerns, 'I am feeling a painful feeling not of the flesh.' When feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a pleasant feeling not of the flesh.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling of the flesh.' When feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh, he discerns, 'I am feeling a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling not of the flesh.'

"In this way he remains focused internally on feelings in & of themselves, or externally on feelings in & of themselves, or both internally & externally on feelings in & of themselves. Or he remains focused on the phenomenon of origination with regard to feelings, on the phenomenon of passing away with regard to feelings, or on the phenomenon of origination & passing away with regard to feelings. Or his mindfulness that 'There are feelings' is maintained to the extent of knowledge & remembrance (better: Mindfulness is established in him to the extent necessary for bare knowledge and continuous mindfulness). And he remains independent, unsustained by (not clinging to) anything in the world. This is how a monk remains focused on feelings in & of themselves.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


http://www.wisdom-books.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=17023

Kind regards
User avatar
ground
 
Posts: 2592
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:01 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:49 pm

A further thought: Being attached to a puritan lifestyle could be a form of mental pleasure that's indulged in. And when it's interrupted... disappointment.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:01 am

christopher::: wrote:
Ben wrote:
Individual wrote:So, I don't think it's skillful to indulge in pleasure -- ever. Because then the feeling of craving comes up.


Craving (and aversion) arises dependent on vedana. But if one can develop equanimity towards vedana than one can interrupt the process of creating new craving (or aversion).



Can you say more about this, Ben?

:anjali:


Hi Christopher

Sure, but not right now as I am at work - and I was away the last few days so I just want to let yo know you can PM to remind me if I forget.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15973
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Is indulgence in pleasure ever skillful?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Jan 24, 2011 2:44 am

Hi everyone.

Ben wrote:
Hi Christopher

Sure, but not right now as I am at work - and I was away the last few days so I just want to let yo know you can PM to remind me if I forget.


Thanks Ben.

Yeah, its the nitty gritty specifics I was wondering about. Like you said you lost 20kg while on retreat. I assume that you enjoyed (or overenjoyed) food prior to this. :tongue: Do you have greater insight into why you ate more before, able to see the process of craving there, and do what is needed to interrupt it more successfully now?

In my case I overeat, frequently, and could stand to lose at least 10 kg... I also smoke cigarettes on ocassion, not in large amounts but one or two cigarettes a day, sometimes. Then going months without it. It seems like these specific cravings such as Individual has described can provide a good opportunity to understand better how to liberate our minds.

Also, to TMingyur, I appreciate the sutta references for how a monk practices mindfulness, but how have you done this? Any cravings you used to have that have dropped away, and if so, how did you do that, specifically?

Nibbida wrote:My take on this is that neither pleasure nor pain are to be avoided but to be experienced with mindfulness & equanimity. Clinging to pleasure causes craving, and resisting pain results in suffering. It's virtually impossible to avoid pleasure entirely. Attempts to do so, or to make it unpleasant can ultimately result in the aceticism seen in sramanas in the Buddha's time who were haggard (e.g. Mahavira)....

~~~~~~~~~~~

The difference between pleasure and craving for pleasure is the difference between vedana and tanha/upadana.

I don't know where you're located, but you might check to see if there are any Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention programs available, or a therapist who integrates mindfulness in addiction treatment. It's mindfulness training specifically geared at dealing with addiction cravings. I'm sure you already have the mindfulness practice underway, so this would just help you hone your ability to recognize and deal with addictive cravings. There are also a few books available that apply the Eightfold Path to addiction recovery.

In this video Shinzen Young talks about how he broke his marijuana addiction by doing an U Ba Khin lineage retreat (I don't know if it was Goenka, but probably):


For whatever it's worth...

I wish you well in your situation. People do overcome this, even if it takes many attempts. "Fall down seven times, get up eight."


Very interesting, Nibbida. I'm still very new to Theravadan Buddhism, and actually had not heard (or paid close attention to) the term vedana until I looked at this thread. I'll check the video out. I also lost my desire for "grass" soon after i began meditating regularly, back in the 1980s....

Thanks

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
User avatar
christopher:::
 
Posts: 1319
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:56 am

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests