Kâma (sensual pleasures)

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Sacha G
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Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sacha G » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:35 pm

Hi everybody
I was wondering what to think of the term "kâma". Sometimes in seems to refer only to sexual activity, such as in sexual misconduct, sometimes as anything "sensual" like eating, or even enjoying a show, and sometimes it seems to mean every pleasure derived from the five senses.
Anyone has got an idea? :reading:
Thanx
Sacha
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bodom
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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by bodom » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:59 pm

From Nyanatiloka:
kāma may denote: 1. subjective sensuality, 'sense-desire'; 2. objective sensuality, the five sense-objects.

1. Subjective sensuality, or sense-desire, is directed to all five sense-objects, and is synonymous with kāma-cchanda, 'sensuous desire', one of the 5 hindrances (nīvaraṇa, q.v.); kāma-rāga, sensuous lust', one of the ten fetters (saṃyojana, q.v.); kāma-taṇhā, 'sensuous craving', one of the 3 cravings (taṇhā, q.v.); kāma-vitakka, 'sensuous thought', one of the 3 wrong thoughts (micchā-saṅkappa; s. vitakka). - Sense-desire is also one of the cankers (āsava, q.v.) and clingings (upādāna, q.v.).

2. Objective sensuality is, in the canonical texts, mostly called kāma-guṇa, 'cords (or strands) of sensuality'.

"There are 5 cords of sensuality: the visible objects, cognizable by eye-consciousness, that are desirable, cherished, pleasant, lovely, sensuous and alluring; the sounds ... smells ... tastes ... bodily impressions cognizable by body-consciousness, that are desirable .... " (D. 33; M. 13, 26, 59, 66).

These two kinds of kāma are called 1. kilesa-kāma, i.e. kāma as a mental defilement, 2. vatthu-kāma, i.e. kāma as the object-base of sensuality; first in MNid.. I, p. 1, and frequently in the commentaries.

Sense-desire is finally eliminated at the stage of the Non-Returner (Anāgāmī; s. ariya-puggala, saṃyojana).

The peril and misery of sense-desire is often described in the texts, e.g. in stirring similes at M. 22, 54, and in the 'gradual instruction' (s. ānupubbī-kathā). See further M. 13, 45, 75; Sn. v. 766ff.; Dhp. 186, 215.

The texts often stress the fact that what fetters man to the world of the senses are not the sense-organs nor the sense-objects but lustful desire (chandarāga). On this see A. VI, 63; S. XXXV, 122, 191. - (App.).
http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/bu ... dic3_k.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:namaste:
The heart of the path is so simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice.

Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing.

Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this-just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle.

- Ajahn Chah

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by DNS » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:24 pm

The Kama Sutta:

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

It seems to show that it represents any of the sensual pleasures.

Not to be confused with the more famous / infamous Kama Sutra.

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Assaji
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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Assaji » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:10 am

Hi Sacha,
Sacha G wrote:I was wondering what to think of the term "kâma". Sometimes in seems to refer only to sexual activity, such as in sexual misconduct,


Here's an explanation of 'Kāmesu micchācāra' - http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6104" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
sometimes as anything "sensual" like eating, or even enjoying a show, and sometimes it seems to mean every pleasure derived from the five senses.
Anyone has got an idea? :reading:
That's what the Commentaries are for - to give additional hints when the suttas themselves don't give any.

Metta, Dmytro

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sylvester » Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:43 am

Hi Bodom

On Ven Nyanatiloka's definition -
2. Objective sensuality is, in the canonical texts, mostly called kāma-guṇa, 'cords (or strands) of sensuality'.

"There are 5 cords of sensuality: the visible objects, cognizable by eye-consciousness, that are desirable, cherished, pleasant, lovely, sensuous and alluring; the sounds ... smells ... tastes ... bodily impressions cognizable by body-consciousness, that are desirable .... " (D. 33; M. 13, 26, 59, 66).
The Pali pericope has this -
Pañcime, bhikkhave, kāmaguṇā—
cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā,
sotaviññeyyā saddā…
ghānaviññeyyā gandhā…
jivhāviññeyyā rasā…
kāyaviññeyyā phoṭṭhabbā iṭṭhā kantā manāpā piyarūpā kāmūpasaṃhitā rajanīyā.
According to Warder (1974, p61)-
When an adjective, or (all the) adjectives, follow its noun this usually indicates that it is being "predicated" of the noun, or in other words that the attribute in question is being emphasised. One should then translate "... who is/which is ..."
.

This explains the CPD entry for the kamagunas -
kāma-guṇa, m. and n. (mostly) pl. [ts.; Buddh. sa. kā-
maguṇa, cf. SWTF s.v.], the (five) strands of sensual
pleasure, (cf. Sn-trsl. II ad 50-51), i.e. the five objects of
sensual pleasure viz. rūpa, sadda, gandha, rasa, poṭ-
ṭhabba, cf. kāma, q.v. s.v.; — exeg.: definitions of ~:
pane' ime ~ā ... cakkhuviññeyyā rūpā iṭṭhā kantā
manāpā + ... sotaviññeyyā saddā ... ghānaviññey-
yā gandhā ... jivhāviññeyyā rasa ... kāyaviññeyyā
phoṭṭhabbā, D I 245,15 foll. ...
Essentially, the kamagunas are all forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tactilities.

I think the problem with most English translators who are no longer familiar with the traditional "that" (restrictive) versus "which" (non-restrictive) distinction may not quite get what Warder is trying to say.

You can see the same grammatical form being used in the First Sermon to define the Two Yokes.
Dveme, bhikkhave, antā pabbajitena na sevitabbā. Katame dve?
Yo cāyaṃ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṃhito,
yo cāyaṃ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṃhito
Clearly, the Buddha did not intend to say that some forms of attachment to sensual pleasure were not base, vulgar, common, ignoble or unprofitable, nor that some forms of self-torture were not painful, ignoble or unprofitable.

It's quite an uncomfortable idea that the Buddha would take such an uncompromising attitude towards all the material constituents of our Kamaloka (see SN 35.82), but there you have it.

The crucial instruction for how the kamagunas can be enjoyed or met, without triggering the anusayas, is given in passages 4 to 9 of MN 152. It's good old Satipatthana to the rescue. Does this mean that we can have our cake and eat it? To be discussed, just as the Buddha had to address Arittha's views on this in MN 22.

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Nyana » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:09 am

Sylvester wrote:Essentially, the kamagunas are all forms, sounds, smells, tastes and tactilities.
The Buddha wasn't interested in substance metaphysics.

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sylvester » Sun Jan 09, 2011 12:45 pm

Don't worry, Geoff.

This is not the place to discuss the vivicceva kamehi formula.

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Nyana » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:52 pm

Sylvester wrote:This is not the place to discuss the vivicceva kamehi formula.
It's the place to discuss the strands of sensual pleasure (kāmagunā). MN 150 Nagaravindeyya Sutta informs us that one practicing for the removal of passion resorts to a remote location where there are none of the five strands of sensual pleasure to contact and delight in:
  • [T]hose venerable ones resort to remote jungle-thicket resting places in the forest. For there are no forms cognizable by the eye there of a kind that they could look at and delight in. There are no sounds cognizable by the ear there of a kind that they could listen to and delight in. There are no odors cognizable by the nose there of a kind that they could smell and delight in. There are no flavors cognizable by the tongue there of a kind that they could taste and delight in. There are no tactual objects cognizable by the body there of a kind that they could touch and delight in.
All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sylvester » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:36 am

Indeed Geoff. MN 150 is very important in the understanding of the kamagunas, especially by reference to the Migajala Suttas in the SN. I suppose Ven Nanamoli and BB translated "abhirameyyuṃ" (occuring only in MN 150 and nowhere else) as "delight in", given how the Migajala Suttas #1 and #2 (SN 35.63 and 64) explain "delight"/nandi in the context of the kamagunas expressed in practically the same terms.

Both of these suttas are clear that "nandi" is just another synonym for craving/tanha. Both "nandi" and "tanha" are explicitly identified as the "partner" of the meditator who resorts to the wilderness. SN 35.64 goes even further to reinforce the applicability of the 2nd Noble Truth to nandi by stating -
With the arising of delight, I say, Migajala, there is the arising of suffering.
Suffering, as we know, is nothing more than the 5 Aggregates associated with Clinging. These include sukha, dukha and neutral vedanas.

Nandi/abhirameyyuṃ as tanha is not understood to be only kamatanha. The vibhavatanha on encountering unpleasant kamagunas will also count. The bhavatanha in search for an improvement to neutral or painful feelings will also count. Which accounts for the negative formulation to the above -
With the cessation of delight, I say, Migajala, comes the cessation of suffering.
This is just the classic 3rd Noble Truth.

And SN 22.51 makes no distinction in the types of delight which are to be destroyed for liberation to arise. Every one of the 5 Aggregates are to experience the destruction of delight and not only the "agreeable" Aggregates, in order to gain liberation.

What more, the series of suttas in SN 35.156 to 159 also speak of the destruction of delight in relation to the indriyas that touch the respective kamagunas. If the Buddha were only interested in the "attractive" kamagunas, why bother to give instructions to develop revulsion towards the indriyas?

As far as I can see, the penultimate para of MN 150 is no more than an abridged treatment of the Migajala Suttas. MN 150 rightly speaks of the meditator who does not delight in all the kamagunas, because none of the 3 types of delight/tanha can touch him.

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Nyana » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:15 pm

Sylvester wrote:As far as I can see, the penultimate para of MN 150 is no more than an abridged treatment of the Migajala Suttas. MN 150 rightly speaks of the meditator who does not delight in all the kamagunas, because none of the 3 types of delight/tanha can touch him.
The passage from MN 150 includes anyone who is practicing for the removal of passion, aggression, and delusion, not just arahants who are already free from passion, aggression, and delusion, and are free of the three types of craving.

Moreover, if the forms, etc., of the wilderness were strands of sensual pleasure, then it would be completely inappropriate for Mahākassapa (Thag 18) to find this scenery delightful (manorama), enjoyable (ramma), and beautiful (rucira). It would also be inappropriate and inadvisable for MN 121 to state that the practitioner's "mind enters into that apperception of forest and acquires confidence, steadiness, and decision," as this apperception and other concomitant mental factors arise in dependence upon the visible sensory sphere consisting of "the ridges and hollows, the rivers and ravines, the tracts of stumps and thorns, the mountains and irregular places." As an object-support for developing calm (samatha) in the course of attaining jhāna, these forms cannot be strands of sensual pleasure. If they were, any concomitant pleasure and happiness which would arise in dependence upon these sensory objects would be inappropriate and not worth development (bhāvanā).

All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sylvester » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:56 am

The passage from MN 150 includes anyone who is practicing for the removal of passion, aggression, and delusion, not just arahants who are already free from passion, aggression, and delusion, and are free of the three types of craving.
Agreed, but I wonder why the Buddha included the non-arahant practitioners in passage #6 as justification for the beliefs set out in para 5, which mentions only the arahants? Be that as it may, methinks that the Migajala Suttas equating the "lone dweller" with the one for whom suffering has ceased need not necessarily restrict these 2 suttas only to the Arahants. For a person in Jhana, craving in relation to the kamas will have nirujjhati, even if some craving remains in relation to the Jhana experience itself. I'm of course taking the other meaning of "nirodha" suggested by Ven Payutto, ie non-arising, rather than cessation. My other reason for this is the rather happy assessment in MN 152 which extends the theme of detachment to not only the ariyans and those who have entered the way, but also to the instructed worldling (para 4 to 9). The detachment experienced by the instructed worldling extends to contact with all kinds of sense objects, be they agreeable, disagreeable or neutral.
Moreover, if the forms, etc., of the wilderness were strands of sensual pleasure, then it would be completely inappropriate for Mahākassapa (Thag 18) to find this scenery delightful (manorama), enjoyable (ramma), and beautiful (rucira).
I agree, but as you've suggested -
The Buddha wasn't interested in substance metaphysics.
The urgency imported by the standard kamaguna formula does not import that the kamagunas act on beings in equal measure. Just as the definition of suffering being the 5 Aggregates associated with Clinging is only relevant to worldlings and sekkhas. The difference seems to be in the sequel to vedana, ie craving.
As an object-support for developing calm (samatha) in the course of attaining jhāna, these forms cannot be strands of sensual pleasure. If they were, any concomitant pleasure and happiness which would arise in dependence upon these sensory objects would be inappropriate and not worth development (bhāvanā).
I can agree to the 2nd sentence, but it does not follow that the pleasure in Jhana is in anyway related to forms etc, instead of being a purely mental experience. Bit of a petitio principii there.

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Assaji » Wed Jan 12, 2011 8:44 am

Interesting discussion. I have added this topic to the Pali Terms index:
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6114" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Nyana » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:25 am

SN 3.12 Pañcarāja Sutta confirms that the very forms, sounds, odors, flavors, and tactual objects which are agreeable to one person, are disagreeable to another.

In SN 36.19 Pañcakaṅga Sutta the Buddha tells Ven. Ānanda that whatever pleasure or happiness arises in dependence on the five strands of sensual pleasure is called sensual pleasure. MN 66 Laṭukikopama Sutta states that this sensual pleasure is a "filthy pleasure, a worldly pleasure, an ignoble pleasure. And I say that this pleasure is not to be cultivated, not to be developed, not to be pursued, that it is to be feared."

Itivuttaka 72 informs us that renunciation is the escape from sensual pleasures.

The distinction between the five strands of sensual pleasure and the appropriate objects to be employed for mental development is indicated in SN 47.6 Sakuṇagghi Sutta, which clearly differentiates between the five strands of sensual pleasure and the four applications of mindfulness (satipaṭṭhānā). In this discourse one is instructed to avoid wandering into the range of the five strands of sensual pleasure and instead remain in one's own proper range of the four satipaṭṭhānas:
  • Do not stray, monks, into what is not your own range and is the domain of others. Māra will gain access to those who stray into what is not their own range and is the domain of others. Māra will get a hold on them.

    And what, for a monk, is not his own range and is the domain of others? The five strands of sensual pleasure.... These, for a monk, are not his own range and are the domain of others.

    Move, monks, in what is your own range, your own ancestral domain. Māra will not gain access to those who move in their own range, their own ancestral domain. Māra will not get a hold on them.

    And what, for a monk, is his own range, his own ancestral domain? The four applications of mindfulness. Which four? Here monks, a monk remains contemplating the body in the body, ardent, fully aware, mindful, having removed covetousness and unhappiness with regard to the world. He remains contemplating feelings in feelings ... mind in mind ... phenomena in phenomena, ardent, fully aware, mindful, having removed covetousness and unhappiness with regard to the world. This, for a monk, is his own range, his own ancestral domain.
All the best,

Geoff

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Alex123 » Thu Jan 13, 2011 12:32 am

Sylvester,

If kāma refers not just to sensuality but to bare 5 sense consciousnesses, then
Arahants would be blind, deaf, and unable to experience anything in 5 senses because they have no kāma.

Since an Arahant can experience 5 sense objects without kāma, it means that kāma doesn't have to include 5 sense consciousnesses.


With metta,

Alex
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: Kâma (sensual pleasures)

Post by Sylvester » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:14 am

Hi Alex

The issue is not whether kama (plural) is the respective consciousness, but the other third of the phassa triad, ie the 5 external ayatanas. I don't think this discussion has been about kama (singular).

What the grammatical structure of the kamaguna definition makes clear is that all of the 5 external ayatanas (agreeable, disagreeable or neither) fall within the kamagunas. What is being debated now is whether the plain old grammatical sense should be respected, or if it should be interpreted to mean something else.

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