Conversation on contentment

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
Cormac Brown
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Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:42 pm

Hi,

I'm interested in getting topics started on the ten topics of conversation recommended by the Buddha, one being contentment.

I recall reading Ajahn Maha Boowa admonishing his monks to be "very content with very little". "Very content" seems to be pointing to a high state of mind, of joy and satisfaction, that I'm unfamiliar with. I imagine the higher form of contentment must include rapture and pleasure, and verbal fabrications along the lines of, "I've got more than enough...this is all I need...I'm very fortunate to have what little I have".

Thanissaro Bhikkhu, I think, has spoken of wealth as a mentality - the mindset that, whatever you have, you have more than enough. Materially speaking, of course - the Buddha advises against contentment with skilful mental qualities (i.e. don't be content with your level of contentment!)

One craving I have is around food - particularly sweet things. As I understand it, Nibbana would be the utmost contentment - total freedom from the need to feed. I find it interesting, however that both discontentment and mundane contentment must be fabricated conditions. In other words, the mind is conjuring these states into being. Why would it choose to fabricate discontent, other than out of ignorance? There's apparently an addiction to the act of feeding itself, to the passion or 'hit' that comes from planning and looking for sensual pleasures. Otherwise, the mind is perfectly free to fabricate contentment instead.

As a result, I imagine, instead of feeling perpetually hungry, one would feel perpetually full.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Cormac Brown
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:44 pm

Oh yeah..

Please share your insights on contentment, along with favourite quotes and teachings. Also, your advice on how to cultivate ever higher levels of contentment with little.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

dagon
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by dagon » Sun Jan 24, 2016 8:37 pm

To me contentment is a mental state where there is acceptance of the situation in the present where we should "live". It requires the recognition of being the heir to ones karma and thus the responsibility for ones situation. There is a need to recognise the dualities that exist in life and rejecting both (eg, attraction and aversion).One of the key elements is equanimity (not indifference).

Being content in the moment is a state of mind that provides the stillness of mind that allows for objectiveness.

metta
dagon

Cormac Brown
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:49 pm

dagon wrote:To me contentment is a mental state where there is acceptance of the situation in the present where we should "live".
Thanks dagon. Certainly the Buddha praises monks who are content with their present material situation - with whatever food, robe, dwelling or medicine they receive, no matter how little it is (1). For laypeople, I guess that would translate as being content with the bare minimum of these things ourselves - i.e. material possessions.
dagon wrote: It requires the recognition of being the heir to ones karma and thus the responsibility for ones situation.
Taking responsibility for one's situation is important, especially for one's state of mind. We should always ensure that however little we have, materially speaking, we are not discontent and hankering for more - this is our responsibility.

The Buddha, interestingly, stated that the key to his Awakening was continually taking responsibility for his situation by not resting content with skilful qualities - i.e. being discontent with whatever level of virtue/concentration/discernment was present, and hankering after ever higher qualities until reaching liberation (2).
dagon wrote: There is a need to recognise the dualities that exist in life and rejecting both (eg, attraction and aversion).One of the key elements is equanimity (not indifference).
I agree that uprooting our attraction or lust for the human body helps cultivate contentment and to diminish our desires. The more we can see the unattractive and burdensome aspects of the things we're attracted to, the less we're likely to be wrapped up in desire for them, and as a result our suffering will diminish.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Metta.

Cormac


(1)http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
(2)http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Cormac Brown
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Sat Jan 30, 2016 6:31 pm

This sutta details how the Buddha successfully helped his brother Nanda overcome his discontent for the holy life. It's a brilliant sutta for anyone having difficulty with lust. Nanda is tormented by the memory of a girl expressing her affections for him as he was leaving to go forth as a monk:
"Lord, as I was leaving home, a Sakyan girl — the envy of the countryside — glanced up at me, with her hair half-combed, and said, 'Hurry back, master.' Recollecting that, I don't enjoy leading the holy life. I can't keep up the holy life. Giving up the training, I will return to the common life."
The Buddha's method of helping him overcome his problem might surprise you. It makes me laugh every time. Eventually Nanda becomes established in the ultimate contentment: arahantship.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

Cormac Brown
Posts: 355
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:07 pm

I am currently finding it difficult to resist cravings for chocolate and cheese, even though they don't do my body much good and keep my mind stuck on lower forms of pleasure. These cravings are a source of discontent and dukkha. How might anyone suggest giving up these cravings and finding more contentment?
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

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gavesako
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by gavesako » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:04 pm

The commentaries explain contentment as:

Yathālābha-santosa: contentment with what one gets and deserves to get

Yathābala-santosa: contentment with what is within one’s strength or capacity

Yathāsāruppa-santosa: contentment with what is befitting
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
Dhammatalks.org - Sutta translations

Cormac Brown
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Fri Feb 05, 2016 12:55 am

These four traditions of the Noble Ones — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives and brahmans. Which four?

There is the case where a monk is content with any old robe cloth at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old robe cloth at all. He does not, for the sake of robe cloth, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting cloth, he is not agitated. Getting cloth, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old robe cloth at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk is content with any old almsfood at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old almsfood at all. He does not, for the sake of almsfood, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting almsfood, he is not agitated. Getting almsfood, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old almsfood at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk is content with any old lodging at all. He speaks in praise of being content with any old lodging at all. He does not, for the sake of lodging, do anything unseemly or inappropriate. Not getting lodging, he is not agitated. Getting lodging, he uses it not tied to it, uninfatuated, guiltless, seeing the drawbacks (of attachment to it), and discerning the escape from them. He does not, on account of his contentment with any old lodging at all, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

Furthermore, the monk finds pleasure and delight in developing (skillful mental qualities), finds pleasure and delight in abandoning (unskillful mental qualities). He does not, on account of his pleasure and delight in developing and abandoning, exalt himself or disparage others. In this he is skillful, energetic, alert, and mindful. This, monks, is said to be a monk standing firm in the ancient, original traditions of the Noble Ones.

These are the four traditions of the Noble Ones — original, long-standing, traditional, ancient, unadulterated, unadulterated from the beginning — which are not open to suspicion, will never be open to suspicion, and are unfaulted by knowledgeable contemplatives and brahmans. [AN 4.28]
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

DC2R
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by DC2R » Tue Feb 09, 2016 3:11 am

Cormac Brown wrote:I am currently finding it difficult to resist cravings for chocolate and cheese, even though they don't do my body much good and keep my mind stuck on lower forms of pleasure. These cravings are a source of discontent and dukkha. How might anyone suggest giving up these cravings and finding more contentment?
Replace them with a healthier snack, like roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds. This will satisfy the hunger, and you will not be as prone to give in to the cravings for chocolate and cheese.
"May the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha always be firmly established in your hearts." ―Ajahn Chah

http://txti.es/theravada

Cormac Brown
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Cormac Brown » Tue Feb 09, 2016 9:26 am

DC2R wrote:
Cormac Brown wrote:I am currently finding it difficult to resist cravings for chocolate and cheese, even though they don't do my body much good and keep my mind stuck on lower forms of pleasure. These cravings are a source of discontent and dukkha. How might anyone suggest giving up these cravings and finding more contentment?
Replace them with a healthier snack, like roasted and unsalted sunflower seeds. This will satisfy the hunger, and you will not be as prone to give in to the cravings for chocolate and cheese.
Thank you for the advice. Much appreciated.
“I in the present who am a worthy one, rightly self-awakened, am a
teacher of action, a teacher of activity, a teacher of persistence. But the
worthless man Makkhali contradicts even me, (saying,) ‘There is no
action. There is no activity. There is no persistence.’ "
AN 3.138, trans. Ven. Thanissaro

coreycook950
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by coreycook950 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:12 pm

Hello Friend,

It is important to be content with little.
Appreciate little things and be content.
If we desire anything, we suffer.

So learn to reach the cessation of desire, and you will reach the cessation of suffering.

Blessings,

Corey

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kirk5a
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by kirk5a » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:45 pm

The passage sticks with me as far as ultimate contentment. To me it speaks more to removing the causes for discontent, rather than fabricating contentment.
Furthermore, a sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die, is unagitated, and is free from longing. He has nothing whereby he would be born. Not being born, will he age? Not aging, will he die? Not dying, will he be agitated? Not being agitated, for what will he long?
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

Jones
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Jones » Sat Feb 13, 2016 1:10 am

Hi friends,
Have you noticed the English word content is also used to explain what something contains, as in contents of a book, or bag etc. Also the development of altruistic joy (glad of others success) certainly contains content of contentment.

Metta Sutta AN 4.125 Translated by Excellent Thannisaro Bhikkhu.

"Again, there is the case where an individual keeps pervading the first direction — as well as the second direction, the third, & the fourth — with an awareness imbued with appreciation. Thus he keeps pervading above, below, & all around, everywhere & in every respect the all-encompassing cosmos with an awareness imbued with appreciation: abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will. He savors that, longs for that, finds satisfaction through that. Staying there — fixed on that, dwelling there often, not falling away from that — then when he dies he reappears in conjunction with the Subhakinha[4] devas. The Subhakinha devas, monks, have a life-span of four eons. A run-of-the-mill person having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, goes to hell, to the animal womb, to the state of the hungry shades. But a disciple of the Blessed One, having stayed there, having used up all the life-span of those devas, is unbound right in that state of being. This, monks, is the difference, this the distinction, this the distinguishing factor, between an educated disciple of the noble ones and an uneducated run-of-the-mill person, when there is a destination, a re appearing.

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

Nissaraniya Sutta Excerpt Translated by Excellent Thannisaro Bhikkhu.

"Furthermore, there is the case where a monk might say, 'Although appreciation has been developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken by me as my awareness-release, still resentment keeps overpowering my mind.' He should be told, 'Don't say that. You shouldn't speak in that way. Don't misrepresent the Blessed One, for it's not right to misrepresent the Blessed One, and the Blessed One wouldn't say that. It's impossible, there is no way that — when appreciation has been developed, pursued, handed the reins and taken as a basis, given a grounding, steadied, consolidated, and well-undertaken as an awareness-release — resentment would still keep overpowering the mind. That possibility doesn't exist, for this is the escape from resentment: appreciation as an awareness-release.'

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

Jones
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Jones » Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:41 am

When we really appreciate the help that is given to us from wise teachers, parents and good friends, is our mind in a state of kusala? Is this sila? Will we be inspired to virtuosity? What state of mind is present when we are thankful? What is the content of mind? Will we not be inspired to not resent any affliction we may experience with a force of altruistic joy? Wether that affliction is mental or material, internal or external, past, present or future, gross or subtle-contentment arises when one has "made an island for oneself". External and internal virtue.
With Metta.

Herbie
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Re: Conversation on contentment

Post by Herbie » Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:23 am

Cormac Brown wrote:I recall reading Ajahn Maha Boowa admonishing his monks to be "very content with very little". "Very content" seems to be pointing to a high state of mind, of joy and satisfaction, that I'm unfamiliar with.
I am associating equanimity with "very content with very little". Joy doesn't appear attractive to me and "satisfaction" presumes effort and striving beforehand, i.e. non-equanimity. Also I would not speak of "high state of mind" but of a different mode of consciousness.
Inspiration is based on the exchange of different linguistic expressions. But inspiration is best knowing how language relates to truth. :smile:

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