The great thread on Sensual Craving

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The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby reflection » Mon Apr 16, 2012 8:45 pm

Sensual craving, a topic that -in my eyes- isn't talked about that much. However, sensual craving is one of the five hindrances and one of the ten fetters. Also sensual craving is part of one of the links in dependent origination. So sensual craving is a big topic in Buddhism and we should consider it thus.

So I tought we could need a general tread on sensual craving, for food, drinks, music, but especially sexual desire (lust). What methods are there to reduce sensual craving? What did the Buddha teach and what do modern day teacher teach? Which teachings do you apply? Maybe we could share dhamma talks that inpsire us, or share our own struggles and victories.

Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & 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. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensuality — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — indulge in sensuality. The more they indulge in sensuality, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strings of sensuality.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


With loving kindness. :namaste:
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby reflection » Mon Apr 16, 2012 9:05 pm

I'm really planning to do more about this, for I feel it is the main thing keeping me from progressing. But I have the feeling, that to really take on sensual craving, one should do it on all fronts. I don't think you can be totally without one sort of sensual craving while still having others. For example, If I enjoy some music, afterwards I'm also more sensitive to other types of sensual craving. What do you think?

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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby polarbuddha101 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 11:18 pm

Yeah, I love good beer and women so much. At the same time I really want to get in touch with my mind and body, to achieve deep meditative states, to have profound insights, to get good at yoga so I'll be super mindful of my body and have good flexibility. Even from a materialist standpoint, it would still be an achievement to reprogram the brain to not cling to any desires, to be perfectly content and relaxed at every single present moment. I just quit cigarettes a week ago and I'm still getting headaches, but I realized I had too if I wanted to get truly sincere about meditation, which is something I've wanted to do for a long time.
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"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby jackson » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:52 pm

Speaking from personal experience, I have found that following sensual desire is like putting a small hole in a dam; first a little satisfies, but little by little more is needed until one is swept away by the current of sensual desire, but it creeps up so slowly that it's hard to notice. I also have noticed recently that it can make one stupid, for one becomes fixated on satisfying craving and life loses a lot of it's depth and meaning and becomes about simple hedonism. I think this quote from the Sigalovada Sutta applies nicely;
10. "These are the six dangers inherent in habitual partying: You constantly seek, 'Where's the dancing? Where's the singing? Where's the music? Where are the stories? Where's the applause? Where's the drumming?'
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.ksw0.html

It seems to me this could easily apply to many modern day pleasures as well, such as "Where's the video games" and "Where's the internet?"
Nice topic! :anjali:
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Aloka » Tue Apr 17, 2012 6:27 pm

I have found that study and regular meditation over a period of time seems to have lessened any cravings I had and I feel a lot more relaxed in general.

In Ajahn Sumedho's booklet 'The Four Noble Truths', there's a section for the Second Noble Truth beginning with "Three Kinds of Desire" which is helpful.

http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/4nobltru.pdf

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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby ground » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:39 am

reflection wrote:
Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & 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. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensuality — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — indulge in sensuality. The more they indulge in sensuality, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strings of sensuality.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

This shows that it is not sensual craving that is the problem but giving in to sensual craving is the problem because it reinforces and drives the vicious circle.
So craving is perfectly "natural" and common but renouncing is not.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby ground » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:47 am

"And what are the six kinds of household joy? The joy that arises when one regards as an acquisition the acquisition of forms cognizable by the eye — agreeable, pleasing, charming, endearing, connected with worldly baits — or when one recalls the previous acquisition of such forms after they have passed, ceased, & changed: That is called household joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

"And what are the six kinds of renunciation joy? The joy that arises when — experiencing the inconstancy of those very forms, their change, fading, & cessation — one sees with right discernment as it actually is that all forms, past or present, are inconstant, stressful, subject to change: That is called renunciation joy. (Similarly with sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, & ideas.)

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby reflection » Wed Apr 18, 2012 6:43 pm

Thank you all for your replies!

I also found that meditation certainly helps. Also in a retreat setting, there is much less sensual desire in me.
However, it seems to be mainly temporal. If I stop or lessen my meditation for a while (for whatever reason), sensual desire is right around the corner to kick back in.

I think mindfulness temporarily holds back the hindrance of sensual craving, but to really overcome it, other practices are needed as well. For example, meditation on the body parts, the loathsomeness of food (http://www.dhammacenter.org/meditation/ ... ss_of_food), and reflecting how sensual desire causes suffering.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Zom » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:17 pm

Sense restraint is very important here.
Conemplation and remembrance of impurities of food and body is very important here.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby jackson » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:34 pm

An interesting thing I've noticed is that if mindfulness is strong then desire can just be desire, I can observe it and it passes away on its own. It's once desire becomes "my desire" that I feel the need to do something about it, either grasp or reject it, so I think the key to really coming to terms with craving is to not pick it up in the first place, not own it, and not make a thing out of it when it arises, and if we're not mindful enough and simple desire turns to craving, then we must use whatever methods we can to lessen the burning. This is easier said than done of course, for craving has a magnetic pull, but I think the sooner it's dealt with the easier it is to overcome. I've also found reflecting on the impurities of food to be a great help. Thinking about the fact that beings have suffered and died just so one could eat their meal is quite a beneficial and sobering thought, brings up gratitude as opposed to whining about the quality of the meal, and stops greed in it's tracks fairly well. Top that off with contemplating the texture of the food and picturing what it looks like being chewed as well as digested in the stomach and food turns from sensual indulgence into eating in order to sustain the body, which is a much more practical and realistic approach to nutriment.
Great replies so far! :smile:
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:47 am

jackson wrote:An interesting thing I've noticed is that if mindfulness is strong then desire can just be desire, I can observe it and it passes away on its own. It's once desire becomes "my desire" that I feel the need to do something about it, either grasp or reject it, so I think the key to really coming to terms with craving is to not pick it up in the first place, not own it, and not make a thing out of it when it arises, and if we're not mindful enough and simple desire turns to craving, then we must use whatever methods we can to lessen the burning. This is easier said than done of course, for craving has a magnetic pull, but I think the sooner it's dealt with the easier it is to overcome.


What helps is recognizing when mind ceases to be aware of the true state of emptiness in all realities (dhammas). A clue is when mind raises thoughts like: I, me, my, mine. When this occurs a compassionate smile recognizing the immense, unfathomable depths of suffering, stress, dissatisfaction, physical and mental pain (dukkha) which lies behind the flood gates of right view once such notions are embraced with abandon. :jawdrop:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby nameless » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:33 am

Just a follow up on sense restraint, in the Chachakka Sutta it states:

"Dependent on the eye (and all the six sense bases) & forms there arises consciousness at the eye. The meeting of the three is contact. With contact as a requisite condition, there arises what is felt either as pleasure, pain, or neither pleasure nor pain. If, when touched by a feeling of pleasure, one does not relish it, welcome it, or remain fastened to it, then one's passion-obsession doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of pain, one does not sorrow, grieve, or lament, beat one's breast or become distraught, then one's resistance obsession doesn't get obsessed. If, when touched by a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, one discerns, as it actually is present, the origination, passing away, allure, drawback, & escape from that feeling, then one's ignorance-obsession doesn't get obsessed. That a person — through abandoning passion-obsession with regard to a feeling of pleasure, through abolishing resistance-obsession with regard to a feeling of pain, through uprooting ignorance-obsession with regard to a feeling of neither pleasure nor pain, through abandoning ignorance and giving rise to clear knowing — would put an end to suffering & stress in the here & now: such a thing is possible.


So it seems if you don't relish the pleasure/lament the pain when you experience it, you can remove obsession. I think a lot of people will, when they want to address craving, decide to not feel pleasure at all, but note that it doesn't say to not feel pleasure and pain, but to not obsess about it when being 'touched' by it.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Sarva » Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:25 am

nameless wrote:So it seems if you don't relish the pleasure/lament the pain when you experience it, you can remove obsession. I think a lot of people will, when they want to address craving, decide to not feel pleasure at all, but note that it doesn't say to not feel pleasure and pain, but to not obsess about it when being 'touched' by it.


Good quote and points, nameless. We are somewhat like a Venus-flytrap, we react by nature when our senses are stimulated. The issue I find is that if we do react and desire takes hold, for example when we see a pleasant scene in the street, there is a risk on afterthought that guilt takes hold and we assume a suffering self who is not capable of stopping the obsession. This is dukkha, and it should be immediately put aside and left to 'die or extinguish'. Mindfulness is the watchdog which can help reduce the start of sensual craving.

Ron-The-Elder wrote:What helps is recognizing when mind ceases to be aware of the true state of emptiness in all realities (dhammas). A clue is when mind raises thoughts like: I, me, my, mine. When this occurs a compassionate smile recognizing the immense, unfathomable depths of suffering, stress, dissatisfaction, physical and mental pain (dukkha) which lies behind the flood gates of right view once such notions are embraced with abandon. :jawdrop:

Very helpful Ron, other than mindfulness, is there a practice to help the mind to promote the instant recognition of "true state emptiness in all realities"?

Regarding the OP,
I also find any thoughts which are fantasy or imagination are already leading to dukkha in the form of a very subtle craving, often this can be for sense stimulation yet we may deny it to ourselves. E.g. what to eat for dinner tonight (taste/smell sense craving) or even what someone might say in reply to a question (hearing satisfaction/emotional well being).

Hearing might be overlooked as a sensual craving because of its passivity. Hearing can also provoke irritation e.g. habitual expressions people say or noises in the background when concentrating. This is something for which to be on guard. :spy:

I was told by a women, that men are more likely to enjoy 'sex' visually.
“Both formerly & now, it is only stress that I describe, and the cessation of stress.” — SN 22:86
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Bagoba » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:18 pm

You may google "ask a monk pornography masturbation" regarding how to get rid of sensual addictions like these... A buddhist monk posted videos on youtube about this...
"This path is a thorough investigation and understanding of the limitations of the mortal condition of the body and mind. Now you're developing the ability to turn away from the conditioned and to release your identity from mortality." Ajan Sumedho, "Mindfulness, the path to the Deathless." http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/deathless.pdf
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:27 pm

sarva: Very helpful Ron, other than mindfulness, is there a practice to help the mind to promote the instant recognition of "true state emptiness in all realities"?


There are six senses, referred to as "sense doors". Each of these has their associated organ and their associated object. The mental factors, associated organ being the brain, brain stem, and nervous systems, are several fold: Interpreters of what comes in from the physical senses; observers or thoughts, feelings,and emotions; accessors of memory; planners; imaginers; the creators; deciders; formulators of intentions; and initiators of action. Through the intersection/interaction of any three of these consciousnesses there is contact. Any notion that as a result of any of these contacts that there is any self, ownership or essence in anything considered, which is dependently arisen, and impermanent is wrong view of the true nature of all dhammas: emptiness is delusion that will lead only to dukkha and rebirth in the samsaric realms.

The best thing (I have found) to do when there is any indication of such ideas or mental habits arising in the mind is to smile compassionately at the ridiculousness nature of such notions. :smile:
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A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby PTa » Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:45 pm

Note to self: Sensual craving is craving for sensations, having sensations is existence, seeing it like it really is - all is burning - is the end of the taint of sensations, the end of the taint of existence, the end of the taint of ignorance, i.e. the end of suffering.
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby PTa » Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:17 pm

What is the all? Burning with what?
The Fire Sermon
"No matter how much we may speak in line with what we understand to be right in accordance with the Dhamma, if the citta that is acting isn't right, how can we be right?"
-Ajaan Mahã Boowa
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Re: The great thread on Sensual Craving

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:43 pm

PTa wrote:What is the all? Burning with what?
The Fire Sermon


The All is the aggregates, this entire samsaric realm, dependently arisen, and impermanent. because of which if we attach and cling is derived dukkha: this entire mass of physical and mental suffering, stress, rebirth, aging, disease, death and rebirth.... according to my understanding.
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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