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To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy - Dhamma Wheel

To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Nori
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To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Nori » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:52 am

Greetings all,

Fairly new to this forum.

---

On one hand, delight and enjoyment in worldly things lead to craving and attachment; and with attachment comes all the downfalls of horror, grief, worry, anger, sorrow and everything that is unpleasant (i.e. suffering).

The Buddha teaches to avoid sensual pleasure (worldly delight) as you would avoid treading on the head of a (poisonous) snake.

On the other hand, it seems our being/nature (incl. our bodies) is geared for delight and enjoyment (i.e. sensual worldly pleasure).

Abstaining from it for only a short time can bring extreme discomfort, sloth or torpor.

Abstaining from it for longer lengths of time, and one can feel like he is dying.

Is it the case that if you abstain from it for long enough, that you will become accustomed to not delighting in worldly things and feel fine eventually; becoming independent from the need for those feelings (of delight and enjoyment)?

And even if we did become free from delight and enjoyment, and thus free of suffering, is this really a better state? There is no grief, but there is also no delight.

With Metta,
Nori

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gavesako
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby gavesako » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:43 am

If, by renouncing some slight happiness,
one may come to see a larger happiness,
Let the wise man renounce the smaller,
considering the greater.

—Dhammapada 290


This was apparently the Buddha's "upaya" or skillful means to lead someone to greater happiness:


The story of Nanda Thera


While residing at the Jetavana monastery in Savatthi, the Buddha uttered Verses (13) and (14) of this book, with reference to Thera Nanda, a cousin of the Buddha.

Once the Buddha was residing at the Veluvana monastery in Rajagaha when his father King Suddhodana repeatedly sent messengers to the Buddha requesting him to visit the city of Kapilavatthu. Accordingly, the Buddha made the journey in the company of twenty thousand arahats. On arrival at Kapilavatthu he related the Vessantara Jataka to the assembly of his relatives. On the second day, he entered the city, where by reciting the verse beginning with "Uttitthe Nappamajjeyya..." (i.e., One should arise and should not be unmindful...) he caused his father to be established in Sotapatti Fruition. On arrival at the palace, the Buddha recited another verse beginning with "Dhammam care sucaritam..." (i. e., One should practise the Dhamma...) and established the king in Sakadagami Fruition.* After the meal he narrated the Candakinnari Jataka, with reference to the virtues of Rahula's mother.

On the third day, there was the marriage ceremony of Prince Nanda, a cousin of the Buddha. The Buddha went there for alms and handed over the alms bowl to Prince Nanda. The Buddha then departed without taking back the bowl. So the prince, holding the bowl, had to follow the Buddha. The bride, Princess Janapadakalyani, seeing the prince following the Buddha rushed forth and cried out to the prince to come back soon. At the monastery, the prince was admitted into the Order as a bhikkhu.

Later, the Buddha moved into the monastery built by Anathapindika, at Jeta Park in Savatthi. While residing there Nanda was discontented and half-hearted and found little pleasure in the life of a bhikkhu. He wanted to return to the life of a householder because he kept on remembering the words of Princess Janapadakalyani, imploring him to return soon.

Knowing this, the Buddha, by supernormal power, showed Nanda, the beautiful female devas of the Tavatimsa world who were far prettier than Princess Janapadakalyani. He promised to get them for Nanda, if the latter strove hard in the practice of the Dhamma. Other bhikkhus ridiculed Nanda by saying that he was like a hireling who practised the Dhamma for the sake of beautiful women, etc. Nanda felt very much tormented and ashamed. So, in seclusion, he tried very hard in the practice of the Dhamma and eventually attained arahatship. As an arahat his mind was totally released from all attachments, and the Buddha was also released from his promise to Nanda. All this had been foreseen by the Buddha right from the very beginning.

Other bhikkhus, having known that Nanda was not happy in the life of a bhikkhu, again asked him how he was faring. When he answered that he had no more attachments to the life of a householder, they thought Nanda was not speaking the truth. So they informed the Buddha about the matter, at the same time expressing their doubts. The Buddha then explained to them that, previously, the nature of Nanda was like that of an ill-roofed house, but now, it had grown to be like a well-roofed one.

Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 13: Just as rain penetrates a badly-roofed house, so also, passion (raga) penetrates a mind not cultivated in Tranquillity and Insight Development (Samatha and Vipassana).

Verse 14: Just as rain cannot penetrate a well-roofed house, so also, passion (raga) cannot penetrate a mind well-cultivated in Tranquillity and Insight Development (Samatha and Vipassana).

http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/dhp/a.htm
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
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Nori
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Nori » Wed Aug 24, 2011 1:54 pm


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David N. Snyder
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:08 pm

Hi Nori,

There is a happiness beyond and better than sense pleasures of the hedonist. It is equanimity. If you have one hour of fun and laughter, it will be followed by one hour of sadness and crying (not necessarily immediately or for exactly one hour, but eventually :tongue: ). You can test that for yourself.

Image

See: viewtopic.php?f=21&t=9260

It is not the indifference of not caring, but the balanced, wholesome and 'happy' state of equanimity.
Image




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Ben
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:33 pm

How could a person incline to sensual pleasures who has seen the source whence suffering springs? Having known acquisition as a tie in the world, a person should train for its removal. S 1.488
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Prasadachitta
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Prasadachitta » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:50 am

Hello Nori,

The way I see it there is a spectrum of enjoyable experience from the unwholesome to the relatively wholesome. Some experience is accompanied by high degrees of craving and is conducive to further craving, other experience less so. For example when I enjoy watching a sunrise I find it far more wholesome than watching television. I think it is best to consider a shift towards wholesome enjoyment rather than an outright rejection of enjoyment altogether. I think this will provide for the frame of mind which will be able to see the value which lies beyond the senses. Enjoyment like the kind which can accompany generosity without expectation or kindness towards unpleasant people.


Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Dan74
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Dan74 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:16 am

To me it is not so much a matter of believing the Buddha's words but to experience it - to experience the unsatisfactoriness of sensory pleasures and then re-experience it over and over again.

Retreats help a lot and words (in my case) help little.

I agree that the habit of seeking pleasure runs very deep and it's not really going to go away but it can be transformed. The pleasure of simple life, of good company, of wise teachings, of ordinary everyday things, of giving and serving, etc etc these can come to replace the thirst for sensual enjoyment.

But it's a matter of practice and keeping it up.
_/|\_

Nicro
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Nicro » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:45 am

I agree that staying away from sense pleasures can be quite uncomfortable, but it is easily worth it. That Dhammapada verse is amazingly true. If you practice meditation regularly and get in some good long periods of meditation, you will see in those times how much calmer and more balanced you are. I personally find these states of peacefulness to be incredibly better than some brief materialistic high.

Right Effort plays a big part too. You have to cultivate the desire to see reality. It is easy to look the other way, it takes effort, courage and determination to look reality in the face. Plus, once you have desire you will find meditation much more rewarding. It is, in fact extremely interesting. So much is happening all the time!

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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby ground » Thu Aug 25, 2011 3:55 am


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gavesako
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby gavesako » Thu Aug 25, 2011 8:16 am

Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

- Theravada texts
- Translations and history of Pali texts
- Sutta translations

Nori
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:42 pm

Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Nori » Fri Aug 26, 2011 12:18 am

Thank you all, many great comments.

alan
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby alan » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:31 am

Prasandachitta has a good point. We can wean ourselves off the low pleasures and cultivate more sublime pleasures, with the idea of letting them all go eventually. That seems like a useful strategy.
In my experience just jumping into renunciation doesn't work. Better to take it step by step.

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Prasadachitta
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Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:08 pm

Meditation is a form of renunciation. When we sit we renounce our impulsive activity. Enjoyment can be found in this even though it has renunciation as its foundation. Renunciation and enjoyment are not contradictory. I think this is the case whether or not we commit to a high degree of renunciation all at once or do it step by incremental step. This was my point. Its not nor will it ever be a matter of all or nothing.


Metta

Prasadachitta
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

Nori
Posts: 126
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 9:42 pm

Re: To be or not to be / to enjoy or not to enjoy

Postby Nori » Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:04 pm



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