No inherent sensual pleasure

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No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:41 pm

Hello all,

Lets say you want to eat the cake, when you eat it - you experience pleasure. But when you stop eating it, the pleasure stops and eventually you back where you started from. If one tries to eat one cake after another cake, then very soon what was sources of pleasure will feel painful. If cake was trully the cause of pleasure, why does it turn into unpleasant feeling when indulged excessively?

One can feel thirsty (dukkha-vedanā) and then when one drinks the water, one feels good feeling. But if one keeps drinking glass after glass after glass, it will feel uncomfortable and can even lead to death.

Sitting and resting can feel great after a long and tiring walk (which is painful). But try to sit for many hours. It will feel uncomfortable. Here also we have a case where something when indulged excessively long becomes uncomfortable.

Maybe there are no inherent pleasures in the world, just more or less dukkha. The relief of greater dukkha feels pleasant, but only for short amount of time and only in comparison with greater dukkha.

What is your opinion?
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:56 pm

Good thoughts. There is a sutta where the Buddha talks about the different ways the same thing can affect different people, and how this shows that pleasure and suffering are not inherent in an object but instead created by contact. I can't find it though :/
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Mar 23, 2013 5:26 pm

Alex123 wrote:H
Maybe there are no inherent pleasures in the world, just more or less dukkha. The relief of greater dukkha feels pleasant, but only for short amount of time and only in comparison with greater dukkha.

What is your opinion?


:thumbsup:

Which is why the best state of mind is Upekkha.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby IanAnd » Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:46 pm

Alex123 wrote:Lets say you want to eat the cake, when you eat it - you experience pleasure. But when you stop eating it, the pleasure stops and eventually you['re] back where you started from. If one tries to eat one cake after another cake, then very soon what was sources of pleasure will feel painful. If cake was truly the cause of pleasure, why does it turn into unpleasant feeling when indulged excessively?

One can feel thirsty (dukkha-vedanā) and then when one drinks the water, one feels good feeling. But if one keeps drinking glass after glass after glass, it will feel uncomfortable and can even lead to death. The satisfaction (for the time being) is sufficient.

Sitting and resting can feel great after a long and tiring walk (which is painful). But try to sit for many hours. It will feel uncomfortable. Here also we have a case where something when indulged excessively long becomes uncomfortable.

This is another example of people creating a problem (in their mind) where no problem (in reality) exists.

"Here also we have a case where something when indulged excessively long becomes uncomfortable." Answer: So don't indulge in the activity.

Common sense tells us that once a hunger (or thirst) has been satiated, one "feels" satisfied. End of story. No further need to pursue pleasantness or unpleasantness. Satisfaction is an end in itself (for the present moment).

Alex123 wrote:Maybe there are no inherent pleasures in the world, just more or less dukkha. The relief of greater dukkha feels pleasant, but only for short amount of time and only in comparison with greater dukkha.

What is your opinion?

I think you are creating your own problems, and have no sympathy for you whatsoever.

Wake up out of your stupor!
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby manas » Sat Mar 23, 2013 8:40 pm

IanAnd wrote:
Alex123 wrote:...
Maybe there are no inherent pleasures in the world, just more or less dukkha. The relief of greater dukkha feels pleasant, but only for short amount of time and only in comparison with greater dukkha.

What is your opinion?

I think you are creating your own problems, and have no sympathy for you whatsoever.

Wake up out of your stupor!




IanAnd: I'm going to assume you must be on very familiar terms with Alex and that your comment was only made in jest, because Alex's question is a darned good one and very pertinent to understanding the Buddha Dhamma.

Alex: as I understand it, it depends on one's point of view. I mean, you could say that the piti-sukha of jhana states is pleasant, and the Buddha says as much quite often. That is one perspective, and a valid one afaik.But then there is this passage from the jhana sutta:

"'I tell you, the ending of the mental fermentations depends on the first jhana.' Thus it has been said. In reference to what was it said? There is the case where a monk, secluded from sensuality, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters & remains in the first jhana: rapture & pleasure born of seclusion, accompanied by directed thought & evaluation. He regards whatever phenomena there that are connected with form, feeling, perception, fabrications, & consciousness, as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. He turns his mind away from those phenomena, and having done so, inclines his mind to the property of deathlessness: 'This is peace, this is exquisite — the resolution of all fabrications; the relinquishment of all acquisitions; the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding.'


Now that sure is 'another perspective'!

So it's a good question and ironically one that came up for me recently also, as I observed how my mind often interprets the ending of pain as a pleasant state, and the ending of pleasure as a sad state ('oh no, what I had is lost!). Very interesting to observe.

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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:07 pm

manas wrote:Alex: as I understand it, it depends on one's point of view. I mean, you could say that the piti-sukha of jhana states is pleasant, and the Buddha says as much quite often. That is one perspective, and a valid one afaik.But then there is this passage from the jhana sutta:


What I am thinking is:
1st Jhāna is pleasant because so much dukkha has temporary ceased (this explanation I read in Ajahn Brahm's books). 2nd Jhāna is even better because even more things have ceases, and there is even more ease. Etc until cessation.

"Furthermore, there is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of nothingness, enters & remains in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception. If, as he remains there, he is beset with attention to perceptions dealing with the dimension of nothingness, that is an affliction for him. Now, the Blessed One has said that whatever is an affliction is stress. So by this line of reasoning it may be known how pleasant Unbinding is. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


In base of neither perception nor non perception, base of nothingness feels like affliction. When Nibbāna occurs, all they cease and that is considered to be ultimate ease.

So is it possible that sukkha-vedanā is actually a dukkha-vedanā (The less dukkha-vedanā, the more pleasant it feels)?
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Zom » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:17 pm

Maybe there are no inherent pleasures in the world, just more or less dukkha. The relief of greater dukkha feels pleasant, but only for short amount of time and only in comparison with greater dukkha.

What is your opinion?


You are wrong. Check out SN 14.34
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 9:45 pm

Zom wrote:You are wrong. Check out SN 14.34


SN14.34 wrote:“Bhikkhus, if this earth element was exclusively suffering, immersed in suffering, steeped in suffering, and if it was not (also) steeped in pleasure,
beings would not become enamoured with it. But because the earth element is pleasurable, immersed in pleasure, steeped in pleasure, and is not steeped (only) in suffering, beings become enamoured with it. [same with other 3 elements]


I still think that "steeped in pleasure" means that it feels good in comparison to much greater dukkha. For example: eating food feels pleasurable because much bigger pain (of hunger) is temporary allayed. But if one keeps eating non-stop, then one will feel increasing and increasing dukkha of eating. Hard 1st Jhāna (as a state without 5 sense consciousness) feels better than eating and 5 sense world because there are no 5 senses and their dukkha there (according to Ajahn Brahm). AN9.34 seems to suggest that even base of nothingness feels like affliction compared to base-of-neither perception nor non-perception, and that Nibbāna is even better (presuming that there isn't anything "in" Nibbāna).
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Zom » Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:30 pm

I still think that "steeped in pleasure" means that it feels good in comparison to much greater dukkha.


No.

Because pleasant feelings can be experienced just simply because objects are pleasurable, not only because there is less suffering, as you think.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Coyote » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:26 am

But pleasure is still Dukkha.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

"Magandiya, suppose that there was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. His friends, companions, & relatives would take him to a doctor. The doctor would concoct medicine for him, and thanks to the medicine he would be cured of his leprosy: well & happy, free, master of himself, going wherever he liked. Then suppose two strong men, having grabbed him with their arms, were to drag him to a pit of glowing embers. What do you think? Wouldn't he twist his body this way & that?"

"Yes, master Gotama. Why is that? The fire is painful to the touch, very hot & scorching."

"Now what do you think, Magandiya? Is the fire painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, only now, or was it also that way before?"

"Both now & before is it painful to the touch, very hot & scorching, master Gotama. It's just that when the man was a leper covered with sores and infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, his faculties were impaired, which was why, even though the fire was actually painful to the touch, he had the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'"

"In the same way, Magandiya, sensual pleasures in the past were painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures in the future will be painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; sensual pleasures at present are painful to the touch, very hot & scorching; but when beings are not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — their faculties are impaired, which is why, even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to the touch, they have the skewed perception of 'pleasant.'
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Sylvester » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:17 am

LonesomeYogurt wrote:Good thoughts. There is a sutta where the Buddha talks about the different ways the same thing can affect different people, and how this shows that pleasure and suffering are not inherent in an object but instead created by contact. I can't find it though :/


Here you go-

Sukhavedaniyaṃ bhikkhave phassaṃ paṭicca uppajjati sukhā vedanā.

Dependent on a contact to be felt as pleasurable, there arises a pleasant feeling.

SN 36.10, MN 140


Elsewhere -

Yo bhikkhave evaṃ vadeyya: yathā yathā'yaṃ puriso kammaṃ karoti, tathā tathā naṃ paṭisaṃvediyatī'ti. Evaṃ santaṃ bhikkhave brahmacariyavāso na hoti. Okāso na paññāyati sammā dukkhassa antakiriyāya. Yo ca kho bhikkhave evaṃ vadeyya: yathā yathā vedanīyaṃ ayaṃ puriso kammaṃ karoti, tathā tathāssa vipākaṃ paṭisaṃvediyatī'ti. Evaṃ santaṃ bhikkhave brahmacariyavāso hoti, okāso paññāyati sammādukkhassa antakiriyāya.

"Monks, for anyone who says, 'In whatever way a person makes kamma, that is how it is experienced,' there is no living of the holy life, there is no opportunity for the right ending of stress. But for anyone who says, 'When a person makes kamma to be felt in such & such a way, that is how its result is experienced,' there is the living of the holy life, there is the opportunity for the right ending of stress.

AN 3.99


Perhaps these could be interpreted as suggesting that how something is experienced/felt depends in part on the sort of kamma that led to that particular contact? I say in part, to avoid the problem in AN 3.61.

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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Zom » Sun Mar 24, 2013 9:05 am

But pleasure is still Dukkha.


Yes. But "dukkha", as you might know, is not "a painful mental/bodily unpleasant feeling" exclusively ,)
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:58 am

Alex123 wrote:One can feel thirsty (dukkha-vedanā) and then when one drinks the water, one feels good feeling. But if one keeps drinking glass after glass after glass, it will feel uncomfortable and can even lead to death.


Aren't there traditionally 3 types of vedana - pleasant, unpleasant and neutral?
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:00 pm

Coyote wrote:But pleasure is still Dukkha.


Pleasant feeling is regarded as a type of dukkha because it's transient - but it's still a pleasant feeling at the time.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Coyote » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:29 pm

porpoise wrote:Pleasant feeling is regarded as a type of dukkha because it's transient - but it's still a pleasant feeling at the time.
Zom wrote:Yes. But "dukkha", as you might know, is not "a painful mental/bodily unpleasant feeling" exclusively ,)


Yes but is it pleasant because it is objectively pleasant? If this is so, then why does the sutta I quoted seem to suggest pleasure is a misperception? There many places in the canon where sense-pleasures are thought of as unpleasant, hot, a fire. I can't find it, but it is either in the Theri(a)gatha, Udana or Itivuttaka where the unenlightened are described as "seeing pleasure in what is painful".

Even,

There's no fire like passion,
no loss like anger,
no pain like the aggregates,
no ease other than peace.

(trans. Thanissaro)

Would suggest there is more to the Dukkha of pleasant experiences than just being transient and anatta. They are objectively painful, a burden.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:36 pm

Zom wrote:
But pleasure is still Dukkha.


Yes. But "dukkha", as you might know, is not "a painful mental/bodily unpleasant feeling" exclusively ,)



Right, there are three types of dukkha and even pleasant feeling is included in dukkha (2nd and maybe even third kind).
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:40 pm

Coyote wrote:Would suggest there is more to the Dukkha of pleasant experiences than just being transient and anatta. They are objectively painful, a burden.


Yes, I see what you're saying - though the second Noble Truth seems to say that it's grasping pleasant experience that causes dukkha, rather than the pleasant experience itself.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:40 pm

porpoise wrote:Aren't there traditionally 3 types of vedana - pleasant, unpleasant and neutral?


Right.
But is it possible to say that sukha-vedanā contains much less pain, thus it feels pleasant in comparison to much greater pain like dukkha-vedanā ?

in AN9.34 it says that even base of nothingness feels like affliction compared to base of neither perception nor non perception.
And Nibbāna is more pleasurable than base of neither perception nor non perception.

So I think it is matter of contrast. Less pain feels like pleasure compared to greater pain.
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Alex123 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 4:33 pm

Also what I am thinking:

Why do we do what we do? What pushes us? Pain, suffering, etc! For example if one is hungry (painful bodily feeling) one is moved to search for food and to eat it.

If one is thirsty, one is forced to search for water and to drink it.
If one feels cold, one is forced to put on more clothes, raise the rooms temperature, or to drink hot tea, etc.

When one sits motionless long enough, the physical pain will force one to change posture.
Walking long distances or prolonged standing will force one to sit or lie down to relieve the pain of exertion.

Problem will force one to look for a solution.
Burning question can force one's mind to think about an answer.

If (hypothetical situation for the sake of argument) everything was absolutely perfect and complete, then why would one have to change anything?
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Re: No inherent sensual pleasure

Postby Samma » Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:57 pm

Thanissaro wrote at length about the process of feeding and nutriment in his book dependent co-arising. Reading that might clear a lot of things up. It seems too much to reduce everything to dukkha. Sensual pleasures are just that, but there is a much greater happiness disjoined from it all.

At any given moment, the mind is presented with a wide range of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and ideas. From this range, it chooses which things to focus attention on and which to ignore in its search for food. These choices shape the world of its experience. This is why, if you and I walk through a store at the same time, for example, we will experience different stores to the extent that we’re looking for different things. The mind’s search for nourishment is constant and never-ending, because its food— especially its mental food—is always threatening to run out. Whatever satisfaction it derives from its food is always short-lived. No sooner has the mind found a place to feed than it’s already looking for where to feed next. Should it stay here? Should it go somewhere else? These incessant questions of “What next?” “Where next?” drive its search for well-being. But because these questions are the questions of hunger,they themselves keep eating away at the mind. Driven by hunger to keep answering these questions, the mind often acts compulsively—sometimes willfully—out of ignorance, misunderstanding what causes unnecessary stress and what doesn’t. This causes it to create even more suffering and stress. The purpose of meditation is to end this ignorance, and to root out the questions of hunger that keep driving it. (Thanisaro, Each and Every Breath)


“Where there is no passion for the nutriment of physical food, where there is
no delight, no craving, then consciousness does not land there or increase.
Where consciousness does not land or increase, there is no alighting of name-&-
form. Where there is no alighting of name-&-form, there is no growth of
fabrications. Where there is no growth of fabrications, there is no production of
renewed becoming in the future. Where there is no production of renewed
becoming in the future, there is no future birth, aging, & death. That, I tell you,
has no sorrow, affliction, or despair." SN 12:64

“Sensing a feeling of pleasure, [the arahant] senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of pain, he senses it disjoined from it. Sensing a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, he senses it disjoined from it. This is called a well-instructed disciple of the noble ones disjoined from birth, aging, & death; from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is disjoined, I tell you, from suffering & stress” — SN 36:6
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