Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

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starter
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Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby starter » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:23 am

Hello friend,

I've been wondering if it's right to enjoy the beauty of nature and some nice music, sinces MahaKassapa (one of the strictest and sternest of the Buddha's disciples) talked about the beauty of nature in the Pali Canon -- how the mountains bathed in rain, and the jungle refreshed him. Today I figured out that it probably depends upon our purpose, and how we use the sense pleasure. If we delight in the beauty purely for our sense satisfaction and become attached to it which disturbs our mind, then it's not right. But if we use the sense pleasure in a wholesome way with a wholesome purpose – to refresh, calm and gladden the mind for meditation, without becoming attached to it and carried away by it, then it should be OK. I'd like to listen to your opinion.

Metta,

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Cloud
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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Cloud » Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:53 am

It sounds like you already have it figured out. :)

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Alexei
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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Alexei » Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:25 pm

There are some reflections of Ajahn Sumedho about contemplation the Four Noble Truths:

For example, I've always liked beautiful scenery. Once during a retreat that I led in Switzerland, I was taken to some beautiful mountains and noticed that there was always a sense of anguish in my mind because there was so much beauty, a continual flow of beautiful sights. I had the feeling of wanting to hold on to everything, that I had to keep alert all the time in order to consume everything with my eyes. It was really wearing me out! Now that was dukkha, wasn't it?

I find that if I do things heedlessly — even something quite harmless like looking at beautiful mountains — if I'm just reaching out and trying to hold on to something, it always brings an unpleasant feeling. How can you hold on to the Jungfrau and the Eiger? The best you can do is to take a picture of it, trying to capture everything on a piece of paper. That's dukkha; if you want to hold on to something which is beautiful because you don't want to be separated from it — that is suffering.



starter wrote:But if we use the sense pleasure in a wholesome way with a wholesome purpose – to refresh, calm and gladden the mind for meditation, without becoming attached to it and carried away by it, then it should be OK.


Ven. U Mangala explains this "skillful means" in this Dhamma Talk (at 30:00): http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Pa_Au ... angala.mp3. It's interesting that he don't recommend do it for more than one minute.

It has some connection with SN 47.10:
"In this, Aananda, a monk dwells contemplating the body,[1] ardent, clearly aware[2] and mindful, putting aside worldly desire and dejection.[3] As he thus dwells contemplating the body, some bodily object arises, or physical discomfort or mental drowsiness causes his mind to wander to external things. Then, Aananda, that bhikkhu's attention should be directed to some inspiring[4] object of thought. As he thus directs it to some inspiring object of thought, delight springs up in him. When he is thus delighted, rapture arises. When he experiences rapture, his body is calmed down. With body so calmed down, he experiences joy. Being joyful, his mind is concentrated. He reflects thus: 'The aim on which I set my mind has been achieved. Let me now withdraw my mind [from the inspiring object].' So he does so, without starting or continuing the thought-process.[5] And he is aware of being free from initial or sustained thought, inwardly mindful and joyful. [Similarly with feelings, state of mind and mind-objects.[6]]

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Individual » Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:27 pm

Not being attached to sense pleasure is unwholesome. Opposing it is Puritanistic. Appreciating it without craving is enjoyable. Using it might be skillful, but abandoning it is freedom. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby James the Giant » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:00 am

Individual wrote:Not being attached to sense pleasure is unwholesome.

Eh? I thought non-attachment was a good thing...?
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:05 am

James the Giant wrote:
Individual wrote:Not being attached to sense pleasure is unwholesome.

Eh? I thought non-attachment was a good thing...?
It really does not make any sense.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Individual » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:36 am

James the Giant wrote:
Individual wrote:Not being attached to sense pleasure is unwholesome.

Eh? I thought non-attachment was a good thing...?

Typo. You're right. :P
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby starter » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:17 pm

Alexei wrote:
starter wrote:But if we use the sense pleasure in a wholesome way with a wholesome purpose – to refresh, calm and gladden the mind for meditation, without becoming attached to it and carried away by it, then it should be OK.


Ven. U Mangala explains this "skillful means" in this Dhamma Talk (at 30:00): http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Pa_Au ... angala.mp3. It's interesting that he don't recommend do it for more than one minute.

"... He reflects thus: 'The aim on which I set my mind has been achieved. Let me now withdraw my mind [from the inspiring object].' So he does so, without starting or continuing the thought-process.[5] And he is aware of being free from initial or sustained thought, inwardly mindful and joyful. ...
[/quote]

Hi Alexei,

Thanks for your very helpful quotes. Somehow my computer couldn't open the Dhamma talk of Ven. U Mangala. Would you please summarize the reason(s) why he doesn't recommend "do it for more than one minute"?

I'd think that only those practitioners who have really uprooted the attachments to sense pleasures of natural beauty and soothing music can use them in a wholesome way, with strong self discipline to withdraw from them as soon as the mind has been refreshed, calmed and gladdened. However, it might be dangerous to try them as a beginner. Metta,

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Alexei » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:15 pm

starter wrote:Would you please summarize the reason(s) why he doesn't recommend "do it for more than one minute"?

"Very often students attach to skillful means and forget the main job".
It's worth to mention that this Dhamma Talk was given at the intensive retreat and "the main job" was to develop strong concentration.

I think it's not a sin to enjoy a scenery :)

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:38 pm

Alexei wrote:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.


Is that from the link?
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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Alexei
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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Alexei » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:55 am

Annapurna wrote:Is that from the link?

No, it's poem of William Blake. Non-buddhist writer, formally.

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby octathlon » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:20 am

Example of over-enjoyment of the beauty of nature?

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby ground » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:51 am

Sense pleasures are hardly the means the Buddha recommended to gladden the mind, on the contrary.

Then Anathapindika the householder, surrounded by about 500 lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, "Householder, you have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn't rest content with the thought, 'We have provided the community of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.' So you should train yourself, 'Let's periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.' That's how you should train yourself."
...
[The Blessed One said:] "Excellent, Sariputta. Excellent. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, there are five possibilities that do not exist at that time: The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is skillful do not exist at that time. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, these five possibilities do not exist at that time."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Kind regards

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Re: Wholesome use of sense pleasure?

Postby Alexei » Sat Jan 01, 2011 8:37 pm

Relevant Dhamma talk of Thanissaro Bhikkhu about sense restrain:

...
In this way, your ability to find nourishment inside is protection for the mind. The pleasures of the world outside hold a lot less poison because you're not trying to feed on them anymore. They're still there, but you can learn how to handle them more skillfully, use them more skillfully, as you try to make the mind even stronger.

For instance, there will be times in your meditation when things aren't going as well as you'd like. In cases like that, it can be helpful to go outside and look at the beauty of nature around you — the clouds, the sunset, the moon and the stars at night — to help clear and refresh your mind. There are passages in the Canon where MahaKassapa, who was one of the strictest and sternest of the Buddha's disciples, talks about the beauty of nature. The constant refrain in his verses is of how the hills, the mountains bathed in rain, and the jungle refresh him. Some of the first wilderness poetry in the world is in the Pali Canon — an appreciation of the beauties of not just nature but of wild nature. That sort of appreciation is part of the skill in learning how to gladden the mind.

What this comes down to is that, as the Buddha said, even something as simple as looking or listening can be developed as a skill. You look and listen while at the same time trying to maintain your sense of being centered inside. This is one of the best measurements for how much greed, anger, or delusion is lurking in the mind and pushing it around. If you catch the mind flowing out to a particular object, there you are: You've found a defilement.
...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... #restraint


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