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Home Teachings Sensual Pleasures What are Sensual Pleasures - Not Noble Practice

What are Sensual Pleasures - Not Noble Practice

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What are Sensual Pleasures
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Not Noble's Practice and Welfare

Enjoyment of worldly pleasures is not the practice of the Noble Ones (Ariyas). One may ask here why the Ariyas like Visakha, Anathapindika and Sakka, the king of celestial beings, who had already reached the first stage of the Noble Life (sotapanna) engaged themselves in pursuit of sensuous pleasures. In Sotapannas, lust and passions are not yet overcome; there still lingers in them the incipient perception of agreeableness of carnal pleasures (sukha sanna). This point is illustrated in Anguttara by the example of a person who is fastidious in the habits of cleanliness, seeking shelter in a filthy place filled with excrement to avoid attack by an elephant in must.

This defiling, coarse habit being ignoble and unclean should be avoided by recluses and Bhikkhus.

The only way to escape from all forms of suffering is through development of morality (sila), mental concentration (samadhi) and Insight, wisdom (panna). Only these, namely, sila, samadhi, panna are to be sought in the true interest of oneself.

Pursuit of sensual pleasures cannot lead to the conquest of old age, disease, death or all forms of suffering. It only tends to breach morality codes, such as non-commitment of illegal sexual conduct. Seeking worldly amenities through killing, theft or deceit also amounts to violation of moral precepts. Not to speak of physical actions, the mere thought of enjoyment of sensual pleasures prohibits development of mental concentration and wisdom and thus forms a hindrance to the realization of Nibbana, cessation of all sufferings.

Failure to observe moral precepts is a sure step to the four netherworlds of intense suffering. It is to be noted, however, that maintenance of moral character alone without simultaneous development of samadhi and panna will not lead to Nibbana. It only encourages rebirth repeatedly in happier existences, where, however, manifold sufferings such as old age, disease and death are still encountered again and again.

Recluses and Bhikkhus, having renounced the world, with the avowed purpose of achieving Nibbana, where all sufferings cease, should have nothing to do with pursuits of sensuous pleasures that only obstruct development of sila, samadhi and panna .

To recapitulate, enjoyment of sensuous pleasures is low and vulgar, being the pre-occupation of common people; and is not practised by the Noble Ones. It is detrimental to progress in sila, samadhi and panna and thus works against the true interest of those intent on achievement of the unaged, undeceased, the deathless - Nibbana.

The text only says that 'one who has gone forth from the worldly life should not indulge in sensuous pleasures.' The question, therefore, arises whether ordinary householders who remain amidst the worldly surroundings could freely pursue sensuous pleasures without any restraint. Since the gratification of sense desires is the pre-occupation of common people, it would be pointless to enjoin them from doing so. But the householder intent on practising the Noble Dhamma, should advisedly avoid these pleasures to the extent necessary for the practice. Observance of the five precepts requires abstaining from commitment of sins of the flesh. Likewise, possession of worldly goods should not be sought through killing, theft or deceit.

(from THE GREAT DISCOURSE ON THE WHEEL OF DHAMMA - Mahasi Sayadaw)



 

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