What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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DooDoot
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What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by DooDoot » Thu May 24, 2018 11:54 am

Dear Dhamma forum

MN 64 includes the following teaching about a little baby:
Daharassa hi, mālukyaputta, kumārassa mandassa uttānaseyyakassa kāmātipi na hoti, kuto panassa uppajjissati kāmesu kāmacchando? Anusetvevassa kāmarāgānusayo.

A little baby doesn’t even have a concept of ‘sensual pleasures’, so how could desire for sensual pleasures possibly arise in them? Yet the underlying tendency to sensual desire (kāmarāgā-anusayo) still lies within them. (Sujato)

A young tender infant lying prone does not even have the notion ‘sensual pleasures,’ so how could sensual desire arise in him? Yet the underlying tendency to sensual lust lies within him. (Bodhi)

https://suttacentral.net/mn64/en/sujato
https://suttacentral.net/mn64/en/bodhi
MN 38 refers to the mental development of a child as follows:
The mother then carries the embryo in her womb for nine or ten months with much anxiety, as a heavy burden. Then, at the end of nine or ten months, the mother gives birth with much anxiety, as a heavy burden. Then, when the child is born, she nourishes it with her own blood; for the mother’s breast-milk is called blood in the Noble One’s Discipline.

When he grows up and his faculties mature, the child plays at such games as toy ploughs, tipcat, somersaults, toy windmills, toy measures, toy carts and a toy bow and arrow.

When he grows up and his faculties mature still further, the youth enjoys himself provided and endowed with the five cords of sensual pleasure/stimulation (kāmaguṇehi), with forms cognizable by the eye… sounds cognizable by the ear… odours cognizable by the nose… flavours cognizable by the tongue… tangibles cognizable by the body that are wished for, desired, agreeable and likeable, connected with sensual desire (kāmūpasaṃhitehi) and provocative of lust (rajanīyehi).

On seeing a form with the eye, he lusts after it if it is pleasing; he dislikes it if it is unpleasing. He abides with mindfulness of the body unestablished, with a limited mind and he does not understand as it actually is the deliverance of mind and deliverance by wisdom wherein those evil unwholesome states cease without remainder. Engaged as he is in favouring and opposing, whatever feeling he feels—whether pleasant or painful or neither-painful-nor-pleasant—he delights in that feeling, welcomes it and remains holding to it. As he does so, delight arises in him. Now delight in feelings is clinging. With his clinging as condition, being comes to be; with being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.
Therefore, it seems possible from MN 64 and MN 38 that "sensual desire" is not the inherent primitive instinctual desires for food & physical comfort a little baby has. Instead it could possibly be that "sensual desire" is something experientially conditioned & habituated from experiencing various "luxurious" pleasures after the mental & sense faculties have matured somewhat. MN 64 appears to say the "concept" or "notion" of sensual pleasure must exist before sensual desire can exist. Therefore, it appears possible that conceptual thought or "views", such as the theme (nimitta) of "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, must exist before sensual desire begins to exist. For example, MN 5 says:
They will focus on the aspect (nimitta) of beauty, and because of that, lust will infect their mind.
Therefore, my questions for inquiry & discussion are:

1. Does "sensual desire" (kāmacchando) depend on thought concepts of "sensual pleasure", "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, to arise?

2. Are primitive forms of hunger & desire for food & physical comfort not included within "sensual desires"?

3. If a women solely has a desire for reproduction & motherhood, is this sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

4. Is the "craving (tanha) for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches" mentioned in Dependent Origination always sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

5. Or must sensual clinging (kāmupādānaṃ) occur before there is sensual desire (kāmacchando)?
And what is craving? These six are classes of craving: craving for forms, craving for sounds, craving for smells, craving for tastes, craving for tactile sensations, craving for ideas. This is called craving

And what is clinging? These four are clingings: sensuality clinging (kāmupādānaṃ), view clinging, precept & practice clinging and doctrine of self clinging. This is called clinging.

SN 12.2
:geek:

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Sam Vara
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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by Sam Vara » Thu May 24, 2018 12:47 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:54 am

Therefore, it seems possible from MN 64 and MN 38 that "sensual desire" is not the inherent primitive instinctual desires for food & physical comfort a little baby has. Instead it could possibly be that "sensual desire" is something experientially conditioned & habituated from experiencing various "luxurious" pleasures after the mental & sense faculties have matured somewhat. MN 64 appears to say the "concept" or "notion" of sensual pleasure must exist before sensual desire can exist. Therefore, it appears possible that conceptual thought or "views", such as the theme (nimitta) of "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, must exist before sensual desire begins to exist.
Yes, I think that's entirely possible. With regard to clinging (kamupadana) as opposed to mere desire, Ajahn Thanissaro makes a distinction between bare sensual pleasure and something more conceptual:
When the Buddha talks about sensuality, he doesn’t say that you’re attached to sights or sounds. The word kama, or sensuality, here doesn’t mean beautiful or desirable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or tactile sensations. It means the plans and intentions you have around these things. That’s what we’re really focused on. We’re all attached to the ideas we have of the things we want, wanting them to be a certain way to give us pleasure. In other words, we’re more attached to our dreams and plans about sensual pleasures than we are to the sensual pleasures themselves. This is simple enough to see. If you find your sensual desire thwarted in one area, you turn around and you focus it on something else. The desire is what we cling to. We cling to the plans that we make for sensual pleasure.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/books/Medit ... n0032.html

The difference is also reflected in the ability of the English word "sensuality" to mean either relating to the sense organs, or to a commitment to pursuing sense-pleasures.

So, as best as I can manage with your questions:
1) Does "sensual desire" (kāmacchando) depend on thought concepts of "sensual pleasure", "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, to arise?
Yes, I think so.
2. Are primitive forms of hunger & desire for food & physical comfort not included within "sensual desires"?
The term could of course be used inconsistently, but in this context, no.
3. If a women solely has a desire for reproduction & motherhood, is this sensual desire (kāmacchando)?
Not personally knowing that desire, I'll pass on that one!
4. Is the "craving (tanha) for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches" mentioned in Dependent Origination always sensual desire (kāmacchando)?
It's possible. I guess it depends on whether one can crave a non-existent future experience without some degree of conceptualisation. And again, there might be inconsistent use of the term.
5. Or must sensual clinging (kāmupādānaṃ) occur before there is sensual desire (kāmacchando)?
As per Thanissaro's point, I would have thought it was the other way around.

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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by Dinsdale » Fri May 25, 2018 8:24 am

Is it basically the craving for pleasant ( sukha ) vedana?

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .nypo.html
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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by SarathW » Fri May 25, 2018 8:46 am

1) Does "sensual desire" (kāmacchando) depend on thought concepts of "sensual pleasure", "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, to arise?

The newly born child will like mothers milk even he does not have a thought concept.

2. Are primitive forms of hunger & desire for food & physical comfort not included within "sensual desires"?

Yes, it does.
Otherwise, if a newly born child dies at childbirth will attain Nibbana.

3. If a women solely has a desire for reproduction & motherhood, is this sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

I think so. I wanted to be a father because I had a sensual desire.

4. Is the "craving (tanha) for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches" mentioned in Dependent Origination always sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

Yes, it is the result of ignorance.

5. Or must sensual clinging (kāmupādānaṃ) occur before there is sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

Don't know as both of those interdependent.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Fri May 25, 2018 8:58 am

if we look at aggañña sutta, requiring food to live would come from having greedily tasted the earth that appeared billions of years ago
"Just as the ocean has a single taste — that of salt — in the same way, this Dhamma-Vinaya has a single taste: that of release."
— Ud 5.5

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James Tan
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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by James Tan » Fri May 25, 2018 5:19 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:54 am






1. Does "sensual desire" (kāmacchando) depend on thought concepts of "sensual pleasure", "beautiful", "delicious", "sexy", etc, to arise?

2. Are primitive forms of hunger & desire for food & physical comfort not included within "sensual desires"?

3. If a women solely has a desire for reproduction & motherhood, is this sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

4. Is the "craving (tanha) for forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches" mentioned in Dependent Origination always sensual desire (kāmacchando)?

5. Or must sensual clinging (kāmupādānaṃ) occur before there is sensual desire (kāmacchando)?



:geek:
I think one can separate sensual and desire to answer the question .

1. Sensuality is physical pleasure arousal but not depend on concept , however , desire is strong yearning , including thinking . So yes .

2. Yes, for Physical comfort part is sensual pleasure but not for hunger.

3. No, wanting to be a mother and give birth but not necessarily sensual pleasure .

4. Yes.

5. Sensual pleasure arise follow by clinging .

Thanks .
:reading:

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Re: What does "sensual desire" mean in the suttas?

Post by auto » Sun May 27, 2018 1:05 pm

excerpt from MN38 https://suttacentral.net/mn38/en/horner
“It is good, monks. Both you say this, monks, and I too say this: If this is, that comes to be; from the arising of this, that arises, that is to say: Conditioned by ignorance are the karma-formations; conditioned by the karma-formations is consciousness; conditioned by consciousness is psycho-physicality; conditioned by psycho-physicality are the six (sensory) spheres; conditioned by the six (sensory) spheres is sensory impingement; conditioned by sensory impingement is feeling; conditioned by feeling is craving; conditioned by craving is grasping; conditioned by grasping is becoming; conditioned by becoming is birth; conditioned by birth, ageing and dying, grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair come into being. Such is the arising of this entire mass of anguish.

But from the utter fading away and stopping of this very ignorance is the stopping of the karma-formations; from the stopping of the karma-formations the stopping of consciousness; from the stopping of consciousness the stopping of psycho-physicality; from the stopping of psycho-physicality the stopping of the six (sensory) spheres; from the stopping of the six (sensory) spheres the stopping of sensory impingement; from the stopping of sensory impingement the stopping of feeling; from the stopping of feeling the stopping of craving; from the stopping of craving the stopping of grasping; from the stopping of grasping the stopping of becoming; from the stopping of becoming the stopping of birth; from the stopping of birth, old age and dying, grief, sorrow, suffering, lamentation and despair are stopped. Such is the stopping of this entire mass of anguish.
excerpt from MN 38 https://suttacentral.net/mn38/en/bodhi
Recapitulation on Arising

“Good, bhikkhus. So you say thus, and I also say thus: ‘When this exists, that comes to be; with the arising of this, that arises.’ That is, with ignorance as condition, formations come to be; with formations as condition, consciousness; with consciousness as condition, mentality-materiality; with mentality-materiality as condition, the sixfold base; with the sixfold base as condition, contact; with contact as condition, feeling; with feeling as condition, craving; with craving as condition, clinging; with clinging as condition, being; with being as condition, birth; with birth as condition, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair come to be. Such is the origin of this whole mass of suffering.

Forward Exposition on Cessation

“But with the remainderless fading away and cessation of ignorance comes cessation of formations; with the cessation of formations, cessation of consciousness; with the cessation of consciousness, cessation of mentality-materiality; with the cessation of mentality-materiality, cessation of the sixfold base; with the cessation of the sixfold base, cessation of contact; with the cessation of contact, cessation of feeling; with the cessation of feeling, cessation of craving; with the cessation of craving, cessation of clinging; with the cessation of clinging, cessation of being; with the cessation of being, cessation of birth; with the cessation of birth, ageing and death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair cease. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering.
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https://suttacentral.net/mn38/en/horner
Monks, as a fire burns because of this or that appropriate condition, by that it is known: if a fire burns because of sticks, it is known as a stick-fire; and if a fire burns because of chips, it is known as a chip-fire; and if a fire burns because of grass, it is known as a grass-fire; and if a fire burns because of cow-dung, it is known as a cow-dung fire; and if a fire burns because of chaff, it is known as a chaff-fire; and if a fire burns because of rubbish, it is known as a rubbish-fire. Even so, monks, when because of a condition appropriate to it consciousness arises, it is known by this or that name: if consciousness arises because of eye and material shapes, it is known as visual consciousness; if consciousness arises because of ear and sounds, it is known as auditory consciousness; if, consciousness arises because of nose and smells, it is known as olfactory consciousness; if consciousness arises because of tongue and tastes, it is known as gustatory consciousness; if consciousness arises because of body and touches, it is known as tactile consciousness; if consciousness arises because of mind and mental objects, it is known as mental consciousness. Do you see, monks, that this has come to be?”
https://suttacentral.net/mn38/en/bodhi
Conditionality of Consciousness

“Bhikkhus, consciousness is reckoned by the particular condition dependent upon which it arises. When consciousness arises dependent on the eye and forms, it is reckoned as eye-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the ear and sounds, it is reckoned as ear-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the nose and odours, it is reckoned as nose-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the tongue and flavours, it is reckoned as tongue-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the body and tangibles, it is reckoned as body-consciousness; when consciousness arises dependent on the mind and mind-objects, it is reckoned as mind-consciousness. Just as fire is reckoned by the particular condition dependent on which it burns—when fire burns dependent on logs, it is reckoned as a log fire; when fire burns dependent on faggots, it is reckoned as a faggot fire; when fire burns dependent on grass, it is reckoned as a grass fire; when fire burns dependent on cowdung, it is reckoned as a cowdung fire; when fire burns dependent on chaff, it is reckoned as a chaff fire; when fire burns dependent on rubbish, it is reckoned as a rubbish fire—so too, consciousness is reckoned by the particular condition dependent on which it arises. When consciousness arises dependent on the eye and forms, it is reckoned as eye-consciousness…when consciousness arises dependent on the mind and mind-objects, it is reckoned as mind-consciousness.

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