Could sensual happiness be worked with?

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dhammapal
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Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm

Barry Briggs wrote:First Noble Truth: Dukkha

Each of us is damaged.
Isn't this the essence of the First Noble Truth? That not one of us escapes the havoc created by our own clinging?

Recently I began wondering about the Pali word usually translated as suffering, or dissatisfaction, or unease.
Why did the Buddha choose dukkha to express this basic fact of human life?
Dukkha derives from two words. First, the particle dus, which means 'bad' or 'broken.' Second, the noun kha which means 'hole' or 'pivot' (in the sense of a wheel). In ancient India, dukkha referred to the frozen axle of a wheel - a damage that prevented a cart from working properly.

When I look into myself, it's not to hard to identify where I'm frozen. To see how my life doesn't turn smoothly over the ruts and bumps in life's road. To feel where "stuckness" appears. Oddly enough, I experience a sense of liberation when I honestly confront the damage. And the Buddha himself also experienced this.
http://www.oxherding.com/my_weblog/2008 ... ukkha.html
I like the analogy of suffering as like a cart with a frozen axle in a wheel (although Thanissaro Bhikkhu says it is not in the Pali Canon). The idea that, rather than throwing the cart away, you just fix the wheel so your life goes smoothly from now on into the future.

I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful and focusing only on the breath, could it be worked with through human effort toward skillful thoughts, words and actions that shape a better and better sensual reality until ultimately there is no unnecessary suffering?

Thanks,
dhammapal.

binocular
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by binocular » Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:29 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm
I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful and focusing only on the breath, could it be worked with through human effort toward skillful thoughts, words and actions that shape a better and better sensual reality until ultimately there is no unnecessary suffering?
Secularists of various denominations have been working on that. It's not clear how successful they are.
That kind of pursuit of happiness is also severely limited, in that it is accessible only to people with enough wealth and who are of relatively good health.

I'm sure one can really savor one's food and enjoy in it, esp. if it's not collected from dumpsters, or one didn't have to work for it for ten hours every day, or when it isn't strictly rationed and eaten while around one there are bullets swooshing through the air, which is filled with the smoke of a whole city burnt down by a bomb attack from people who claim to want to help.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

dhammapal
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:13 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:29 pm
dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm
I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful and focusing only on the breath, could it be worked with through human effort toward skillful thoughts, words and actions that shape a better and better sensual reality until ultimately there is no unnecessary suffering?
Secularists of various denominations have been working on that. It's not clear how successful they are.
That kind of pursuit of happiness is also severely limited, in that it is accessible only to people with enough wealth and who are of relatively good health.

I'm sure one can really savor one's food and enjoy in it, esp. if it's not collected from dumpsters, or one didn't have to work for it for ten hours every day, or when it isn't strictly rationed and eaten while around one there are bullets swooshing through the air, which is filled with the smoke of a whole city burnt down by a bomb attack from people who claim to want to help.
So sensual happiness is worthless for generating wealth and health and stopping wars?

(Thanissaro Bhikkhu makes a distinction between sensuality and sensual pleasures. Sensuality is planning a meal for hours beforehand and celebrating it for hours afterwards.)

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cappuccino
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by cappuccino » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:25 pm

Visakha for example,
entered the stream, then married

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Sam Vara
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:50 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm
I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful and focusing only on the breath, could it be worked with through human effort toward skillful thoughts, words and actions that shape a better and better sensual reality until ultimately there is no unnecessary suffering?

Thanks,
dhammapal.
My opinion is that it couldn't. Ajahn Thanissaro, in the article you linked, makes the distinction between the suffering inherent in the aggregates, and the suffering of the clinging-aggregates. Most of us would, I think, be extremely unskillful at preventing that sensual happiness from tipping over into craving and then clinging; we would be picking up that load, and involving ourselves in the clinging-aggregates before we had the presence of mind to prevent it from happening. Even if we didn't, there is still the suffering of the aggregates themselves: "stress in terms of the three characteristics", as he puts it. The arising and passing away of the aggregates means that there is no path to a "better and better sensual reality". It just falls apart, or won't go the way we want it to. It is inherently outside of our control, I think.

binocular
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by binocular » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:52 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:13 pm
So sensual happiness is worthless for generating wealth and health and stopping wars?
I don't understand the question.
dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm
I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful
It's not about "writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful"; it's seeing that it is irredeemably impermanent and stressful.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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rightviewftw
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by rightviewftw » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:46 pm

Compromised by lowly aspirations,
The Hero builds intent on worldly gains,
He was steadfast but now he's losing footing,
As by temptations is his mind assailed
Sedated by the poison of the leeches
The Life-force quickly dissipates
As the Path becomes obscured by drunken stupor
then wisdom is reduced to that of cattle
Herded to Death that he does not perceive
Society - it's hard to see this Institution
Captivity - is the name of the game
The King of Death in charge of Executions
The Arahants are free, true victors unparalleled
dhammapal wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 12:10 pm
I'm wondering if, rather than writing off sensual happiness as irredeemably impermanent and stressful and focusing only on the breath
I do not think you are paying justice to focusing on the breath. There is superior happiness to be gained that is born of seclusion, happiness of renunciation, of wisdom, of steadfast faith, of integrity, of superhuman knowledge, of non-confusion, of non-regret, of contentment, the joy, rapture, tranquility and the path-fruition. It does take an extraordinary effort to cross the stream tho.

Potaliya Sutta: To Potaliya

dhammapal
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by dhammapal » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:47 pm

In Dhanañjani Sutta, Venerable Sariputta advised someone on their deathbed to progressively focus on higher and higher levels of heaven up to Brahma realm. The Buddha told Sariputta he should have done more than establish the person in the inferior Brahma world, but my point is that sensual happiness gets more and more refined with longer and longer lifespan before reaching the jhanas in the Brahma realm and then letting go to Nibbana.

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rightviewftw
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:17 am

It takes a lot of work to cultivate dispassion and indulging in sensuality is counter productive to cutting the bonds as it strengthens them.
For people who
Have agitated thoughts
And intense passion,
And who are focused on what's pleasant,
Craving grows more and more.
Indeed, they strengthen their bonds.

But those who
Delight in calming their thoughts,
Are always mindful,
And cultivate a focus on what's unpleasant,
Will bring an end to craving.
They will cut Mara's bonds.
In practice one should do one's best to maintain the focus and not tolerate even wrong reflection on sensuality so that the craving for sensuality can be supressed, starved and eventually cut-off.

Cultivating the focus on the unplesant might be tedious work but it must be done so that the perceptions are firmly established. After establishment the proper perceptions must be nourished and maintained as well.

That being said one will have to work out one's relationship to sensuality as that is where we start, there is no way to just turn it off afaik.
Last edited by rightviewftw on Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.


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rightviewftw
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:59 am

dhammapal wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:48 am
We make use of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body to progress on the path.
At the time of indulging in sensuality one is going the wrong way and is not progressing on the path. There is the use of requisites and guarding of the senses. The 36 mental explorations should be known for a reason.

dhammapal
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by dhammapal » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:12 am

rightviewftw wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:59 am
dhammapal wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:48 am
We make use of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body to progress on the path.
At the time of indulging in sensuality one is going the wrong way and is not progressing on the path. There is the use of requisites and guarding of the senses. The 36 mental explorations should be known for a reason.
We use our eyes to read the suttas and our ears to listen to Dhamma talks.

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rightviewftw
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Re: Could sensual happiness be worked with?

Post by rightviewftw » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:20 am

dhammapal wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:48 am
The human world is one of the sense-sphere realms of existence. We make use of our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body to progress on the path.
It was not clear in regards to what this was said so i just made a comment;
At the time of indulging in sensuality one is going the wrong way and is not progressing on the path. There is the use of requisites and guarding of the senses. The 36 mental explorations should be known for a reason.
Not sure in regards what this was said either;
dhammapal wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:12 am
We use our eyes to read the suttas and our ears to listen to Dhamma talks.


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