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AN 5.176 Pīti Sutta: Rapture

Then Anāthapiṇḍika the householder, surrounded by about 500 lay followers, went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there the Blessed One said to him, “Householder, you have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, ‘We have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.’ So you should train yourself, ‘Let’s periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.’ That’s how you should train yourself.”

When this was said, Ven. Sāriputta said to the Blessed One, “It’s amazing, lord. It’s astounding, how well put that was by the Blessed One: ‘Householder, you have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick, but you shouldn’t rest content with the thought, “We have provided the Saṅgha of monks with robes, alms food, lodgings, & medicinal requisites for the sick.” So you should train yourself, “Let’s periodically enter & remain in seclusion & rapture.” That’s how you should train yourself.’

“Lord, when a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, there are five possibilities that do not exist at that time: The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is skillful do not exist at that time. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, these five possibilities do not exist at that time.”

(The Blessed One said:) “Excellent, Sāriputta. Excellent. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, there are five possibilities that do not exist at that time: The pain & distress dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on sensuality do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pleasure & joy dependent on what is unskillful do not exist at that time. The pain & distress dependent on what is skillful do not exist at that time. When a disciple of the noble ones enters & remains in seclusion & rapture, these five possibilities do not exist at that time.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.176 Pīti Sutta. Rapture by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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AN 5.76 From… Dutiyayodhājīvasutta: Warriors (2nd)

[Note: This is just one of the five similies for different kinds of warriors and the corresponding different kinds of monastics. If you are interested you may want to read the entire sutta.]

…Furthermore, one warrior dons his sword and shield, fastens his bow and arrows, and plunges into the thick of battle. He strives and struggles in the battle, but his foes wound him. He’s carried off and taken to his relatives, who nurse him and care for him. And while in their care, he recovers from his injuries. Some warriors are like that. This is the fourth warrior found in the world.…

…Furthermore, a mendicant lives supported by a town or village. He robes up in the morning and, taking his bowl and robe, enters a village or town for alms without guarding body, speech, and mind, without establishing mindfulness, and without restraining the sense faculties. There he sees a female scantily clad, with revealing clothes. Lust infects his mind, and his body and mind burn with it. He thinks: ‘Why don’t I go to the monastery and tell the monks:

“Reverends, I am overcome with lust, mired in lust. I am unable to keep up the spiritual life. I declare my inability to continue training. I reject it and will return to a lesser life.”’ He goes to the monastery and tells the monks: ‘Reverends, I am overcome with lust, mired in lust. I am unable to keep up the spiritual life. I declare my inability to continue training. I reject it and will return to a lesser life.’

His spiritual companions advise and instruct him: ‘Reverend, the Buddha says that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks. With the simile of a skeleton … a lump of meat … a grass torch … a pit of glowing coals … a dream … borrowed goods … fruit on a tree … a butcher’s knife and chopping block … a staking sword … a snake’s head, the Buddha says that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks. Be happy with the spiritual life. Venerable, please don’t declare your inability to continue training, reject it and return to a lesser life.’

When thus advised and instructed by his spiritual companions, he says: ‘I’ll try, reverends, I’ll struggle, I’ll be happy. I won’t now declare my inability to continue training, reject it and return to a lesser life.’

I say that this person is like the warrior who recovers from his injuries while in the care of his relatives. Some people are like that. This is the fourth person similar to a warrior found among the monks.…


You can find many of the similes for the danger of sense pleasures in MN 54 Potaliyasutta: With Potaliya the Householder

Read the entire translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 5.76 Dutiyayodhājīvasutta: Warriors (2nd) by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

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MN 66 From… Laḍukikopama Sutta: The Quail Simile

[Note: This is part of a larger sutta that begins with a discussion on the Buddha’s rule for the monastics to only eat in the morning time.]

“Suppose a quail were snared by a rotting creeper, by which it could expect injury, captivity, or death, and someone were to say, ‘This rotting creeper by which this quail is snared, and by which she could expect injury, captivity, or death, is for her a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. That rotting creeper… is for her a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some worthless men who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? This little, trifling thing? He’s too much of a stickler, this contemplative.’ They don’t abandon it. They’re rude to me and to the monks keen on training. For them that’s a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“Now there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.

“Suppose a royal elephant—immense, pedigreed, accustomed to battles, its tusks like chariot poles—were snared with thick leather snares, but by twisting its body a bit it could break & burst those snares and go off wherever it liked. And suppose someone were to say, ‘Those thick leather snares by which the royal elephant… was snared, but which—by twisting its body a bit— it could break & burst and go off wherever it liked: for him they were a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?’

“No, lord. Those thick leather snares… were for him a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.”

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.

“Suppose there were a poor person, penniless & indigent, with a single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; and a single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; and a single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and a single wife, not the best sort. He would go to a park and see a monk—his hands & feet washed, after a delightful meal, sitting in the cool shade, committed to the heightened mind. The thought would occur to him: How happy the contemplative state! How free of disease the contemplative state! O that I—shaving off my hair & beard and donning the ochre robe—might go forth from the household life into homelessness!’ But being unable to abandon his single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; to abandon his single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; to abandon his single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and to abandon his single wife, not the best sort, he wouldn’t be able to shave off his hair & beard, to don the ochre robe, or to go forth from the household life into homelessness. And suppose someone were to say, ‘That single little shack—dilapidated, open to the crows, not the best sort; that single bed—dilapidated, not the best sort; that single pot of rice & gourd seeds—not the best sort; and that single wife, not the best sort by which that man was snared, which he was unable to abandon, and because of which he couldn’t shave off his hair & beard, don the ochre robe, and go forth from the household life into homelessness: for him they were a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. That single hut… that single bed… that single pot… that single wife… were for that man a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.”

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some worthless men who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? This little, trifling thing? He’s too much of a stickler, this contemplative.’ They don’t abandon it. They’re rude to me and to the monks keen on training. For them that’s a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.

“Now suppose, Udāyin, that there were a householder or householder’s son—rich, prosperous, & wealthy—with vast amounts of gold ingots, vast amounts of grain, a vast number of fields, a vast amount of land, a vast number of wives, and a vast number of male & female slaves. He would go to a park and see a monk—his hands & feet washed, after a delightful meal, sitting in the cool shade, committed to the heightened mind. The thought would occur to him: How happy the contemplative state! How free of disease the contemplative state! O that I—shaving off my hair & beard and donning the ochre robe—might go forth from the household life into homelessness!’ And being able to abandon his vast amounts of gold ingots, his vast amounts of grain, his vast number of fields, his vast amount of land, his vast number of wives, and his vast number of male & female slaves, he would be able to shave off his hair & beard, to don the ochre robe, and to go forth from the household life into homelessness. Now suppose someone were to say, ‘Those vast amounts of gold ingots… and a vast number of male & female slaves by which that householder or householder’s son was snared but which he was able to abandon so that he could shave off his hair & beard, don the ochre robe, and go forth from the household life into homelessness: for him they were a strong snare, a thick snare, a heavy snare, an unrotting snare, and a thick yoke.’ Would the person speaking that way be speaking rightly?”

“No, lord. Those vast amounts of gold ingots… were for him a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.’

“In the same way, Udāyin, there are some clansmen who, when I tell them, ‘Abandon this,’ say: ‘What? The Blessed One has us abandon, the One Well-Gone has us relinquish this little, trifling thing?’ But they abandon it and are not rude to me or to the monks keen on training. Having abandoned it, they live unconcerned, unruffled, their wants satisfied, with their mind like a wild deer. For them that’s a weak snare, a feeble snare, a rotting snare, an insubstantial snare.



Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 66 Laḍukikopama Sutta. The Quail Simile by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

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MN 106 From… Āneñjasappāyasutta: Conducive to the Imperturbable

“…Mendicants, sensual pleasures are impermanent, hollow, false, and deceptive, made by illusion, cooed over by fools. Sensual pleasures in this life and in lives to come, sensual perceptions in this life and in lives to come; both of these are Māra’s domain, Māra’s realm, and Māra’s territory. They conduce to bad, unskillful qualities such as desire, ill will, and aggression. And they create an obstacle for a noble disciple training here.

A noble disciple reflects on this: ‘Sensual pleasures in this life and in lives to come, sensual perceptions in this life and in lives to come; both of these are Māra’s domain, Māra’s realm, and Māra’s territory. They conduce to bad, unskillful qualities such as desire, ill will, and aggression. And they create an obstacle for a noble disciple training here. Why don’t I meditate with an abundant, expansive heart, having mastered the world and stabilized the mind? Then I will have no more bad, unskillful qualities such as desire, ill will, and aggression. And by giving them up my mind, no longer limited, will become limitless and well developed.’

Practicing in this way and meditating on it often their mind becomes confident in this dimension. Being confident, they either attain the imperturbable now, or are freed by wisdom. When their body breaks up, after death, it’s possible that the consciousness headed that way will be reborn in the imperturbable. This is said to be the first way of practice suitable for attaining the imperturbable.…


Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 106 Āneñjasappāyasutta: Conducive to the Imperturbable by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

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AN 9.23 Taṇhāmūlakasutta: Rooted in Craving

“Mendicants, I will teach you about nine things rooted in craving. And what are the nine things rooted in craving? Craving is a cause of seeking. Seeking is a cause of gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause of assessing. Assessing is a cause of desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause of attachment. Attachment is a cause of ownership. Ownership is a cause of stinginess. Stinginess is a cause of safeguarding. Owing to safeguarding, many bad, unskillful things come to be: taking up the rod and the sword, quarrels, arguments, and fights, accusations, divisive speech, and lies. These are the nine things rooted in craving.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 9.23 Taṇhāmūlakasutta: Rooted in Craving by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Iti 58 Taṇhāsutta: Craving

This was said by the Buddha, the Perfected One: that is what I heard.

“Mendicants, there are these three cravings. What three? Craving for sensual pleasures, craving to continue existence, and craving to end existence. These are the three cravings.”

The Buddha spoke this matter. On this it is said:

“Bound by craving, minds full of desire
for rebirth in this or that state,
yoked by Māra’s yoke, these people
find no sanctuary from the yoke.
Sentient beings continue to transmigrate,
with ongoing birth and death.

Those who have given up craving,
rid of craving for rebirth in this or that state,
they in this world have truly crossed over,
having reached the ending of defilements.”

This too is a matter that was spoken by the Blessed One: that is what I heard.


Read this translation of Itivuttaka 58 Taṇhāsutta: Craving Taṇhāsutta by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

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Dhp 334-336 From… Taṇhā Vagga: Craving

334. The craving of a person who lives negligently spreads like a creeping vine. Like a monkey who leaps from tree to tree in the forest seeking fruits, that person leaps from life to life, in this journey of misery.

335. Whoever is overcome by this miserable, wretched, and sticky craving, his sorrow grows like rapidly growing grass after rain.

336. Whoever overcomes this miserable, wretched craving that is difficult to overcome, from him sorrow falls away like water drips from a lotus leaf.


Read the entire translation of Dhammapada 24 Taṇhā Vagga: Craving (334-359) by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnananda Thero on SuttaFriends.org.

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Thig 3.7 Selātherīgāthā: Selā

Māra:

“There’s no escape in the world,
so what will seclusion do for you?
Enjoy the delights of sensual pleasure;
don’t regret it later.”

Arahant Selā:

“Sensual pleasures are like swords and stakes
the aggregates are their chopping block.
What you call sensual delight
is now no delight for me.

Relishing is destroyed in every respect,
and the mass of darkness is shattered.
So know this, Wicked One:
you’re beaten, terminator!”


Read this translation of Therīgāthā 3.7 Selātherīgāthā: Selā by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or read a different translation on SuttaCentral.net or SuttaFriends.org. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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Thag 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla

[Note: We can find the context for these verses in the Middle Length Discourses sutta MN 82 On Raṭṭhapāla. If you have time, it is a wonderful story and helps to illuminate the verses.]

Look at the image beautified,
a heap of festering wounds, shored up:
ill, but the object
     of many resolves,
where there is nothing
     lasting or sure.

Look at the form beautified
with earrings & gems:
          a skeleton wrapped in skin,
          made attractive with clothes.

Feet reddened with henna,
a face smeared with powder:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Hair plaited in eight pleats,
eyes smeared with unguent:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

Like a newly painted unguent pot—
a putrid body adorned:
          enough to deceive a fool,
          but not a seeker for the further shore.

The hunter set out the snares,
but the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to weep.

The hunter’s snares are broken;
the deer didn’t go near the trap.
Having eaten the bait,
               we go,
leaving the hunters
               to grieve.

* * *


I see in the world
     people with wealth
who, from delusion,
     don’t make a gift
     of the treasure they’ve gained.
Greedy, they stash it away,
hoping for even more
sensual pleasures.

A king who, by force,
has conquered the world
and rules over the earth
to the edge of the sea,
dissatisfied with the ocean’s near shore,
     longs for the ocean’s
     far shore as well.

Kings & others
     —plenty of people—
go to death with craving
     unabated. Unsated,
they leave the body behind,
having not had enough
of the world’s sensual pleasures.

One’s relatives weep
& pull out their hair.
‘Oh woe, our loved one is dead,’ they cry.
Carrying him off,
wrapped in a piece of cloth,
they place him
     on a pyre,
     then set him on fire.

So he burns, poked with sticks,
in just one piece of cloth,
leaving all his possessions behind.
They are not shelters for one who has died—
     not relatives,
     friends,
     or companions.

Heirs take over his wealth,
while the being goes on,
in line with his kamma.
No wealth at all
follows the dead one—
     not children, wives,
     dominion, or riches.

Long life
can’t be gotten with wealth,
nor aging
warded off with treasure.
The wise say this life
is next to nothing—
     impermanent,
     subject to change.

The rich & the poor
touch the touch of Death.
The foolish & wise
are touched by it, too.
But while fools lie as if slain by their folly,
the wise don’t tremble
when touched by the touch.

Thus the discernment by which
one attains to mastery,
is better than wealth—
for those who haven’t reached mastery
go from existence to existence,
     out of delusion,
     doing bad deeds.

One goes to a womb
& to the next world,
falling into the wandering on
     —one thing
     after another—
while those of weak discernment,
     trusting in one,
also go to a womb
& to the next world.

Just as an evil thief
caught at the break-in
     is destroyed
     by his own act,
so evil people
—after dying, in the next world—
     are destroyed
     by their own acts.

Sensual pleasures—
     variegated,
     enticing,
     sweet—
in various ways disturb the mind.
Seeing the drawbacks in sensual objects:
that’s why, O king, I went forth.

Just like fruits, people fall
     —young & old—
at the break-up of the body.
Knowing this, O king,
     I went forth.
The contemplative life is better
          for sure.

* * *

     Out of conviction,
     I went forth
equipped with the Victor’s message.
Blameless was my going-forth:
Debtless I eat my food.

Seeing sensuality as burning,
          gold as a knife,
     pain in the entry into the womb
     & great danger in hells—
seeing this peril, I was then dismayed—
pierced (with dismay),
then calmed
on attaining the end of the effluents.
The Teacher has been served by me;
the Awakened One’s bidding,
               done;
the heavy load,       laid down;
the guide to becoming,   uprooted.

And the goal for which I went forth
from home life into homelessness
I’ve reached:
               the end
               of all fetters.


Read this translation of Theragāthā 16.4 Raṭṭhapāla by Bhikkhu Ṭhanissaro on DhammaTalks.org.

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AN 6.50 Indriyasaṁvarasutta: Sense Restraint

“Mendicants,

  • when there is no sense restraint, one who lacks sense restraint has destroyed a vital condition for ethical conduct.
  • When there is no ethical conduct, one who lacks ethics has destroyed a vital condition for right immersion.
  • When there is no right immersion, one who lacks right immersion has destroyed a vital condition for true knowledge and vision.
  • When there is no true knowledge and vision, one who lacks true knowledge and vision has destroyed a vital condition for disillusionment and dispassion.
  • When there is no disillusionment and dispassion, one who lacks disillusionment and dispassion has destroyed a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

Suppose there was a tree that lacked branches and foliage. Its shoots, bark, softwood, and heartwood would not grow to fullness.

In the same way, when there is no sense restraint, one who lacks sense restraint has destroyed a vital condition for ethical conduct. … One who lacks disillusionment and dispassion has destroyed a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

When there is sense restraint, one who has sense restraint has fulfilled a vital condition for ethical conduct. When there is ethical conduct, one who has fulfilled ethical conduct has fulfilled a vital condition for right immersion. When there is right immersion, one who has fulfilled right immersion has fulfilled a vital condition for true knowledge and vision. When there is true knowledge and vision, one who has fulfilled true knowledge and vision has fulfilled a vital condition for disillusionment and dispassion. When there is disillusionment and dispassion, one who has fulfilled disillusionment and dispassion has fulfilled a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.

Suppose there was a tree that was complete with branches and foliage. Its shoots, bark, softwood, and heartwood would all grow to fullness.

In the same way, when there is sense restraint, one who has fulfilled sense restraint has fulfilled a vital condition for ethical conduct. … One who has fulfilled disillusionment and dispassion has fulfilled a vital condition for knowledge and vision of freedom.”


Read this translation of Aṅguttara Nikāya 6.50 Indriyasaṁvarasutta: Sense Restraint by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net. Or listen on Voice.SuttaCentral.net. Or explore the Pali on DigitalPaliReader.online.

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MN 145 From… Puṇṇovādasutta: Advice to Puṇṇa

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Sāvatthī in Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery.

Then in the late afternoon, Venerable Puṇṇa came out of retreat and went to the Buddha. He bowed, sat down to one side, and said to the Buddha, “Sir, may the Buddha please teach me Dhamma in brief. When I’ve heard it, I’ll live alone, withdrawn, diligent, keen, and resolute.”

“Well then, Puṇṇa, listen and apply your mind well, I will speak.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Puṇṇa. The Buddha said this:

“Puṇṇa, there are sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. If a mendicant approves, welcomes, and keeps clinging to them, this gives rise to relishing. Relishing is the origin of suffering, I say.

There are sounds known by the ear … smells known by the nose … tastes known by the tongue … touches known by the body … thoughts known by the mind that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. If a mendicant approves, welcomes, and keeps clinging to them, this gives rise to relishing. Relishing is the origin of suffering, I say.

There are sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. If a mendicant doesn’t approve, welcome, and keep clinging to them, relishing ceases. When relishing ceases, suffering ceases, I say.

There are sounds known by the ear … smells known by the nose … tastes known by the tongue … touches known by the body … thoughts known by the mind that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. If a mendicant doesn’t approve, welcome, and keep clinging to them, relishing ceases. When relishing ceases, suffering ceases, I say.…


Note: “Relishing is the origin of suffering” is the translation of “Nandīsamudayā dukkhasamudayo.” The sutta continues with Ven. Puṇṇa explaining how he will deal with harsh treatment by the locals in the place he is traveling to.

Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 145 Puṇṇovādasutta: Advice to Puṇṇa by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

SN 46.39 Rukkhasutta: Trees

“Bhikkhus, there are huge trees with tiny seeds and huge bodies, encirclers of other trees, and the trees which they encircle become bent, twisted, and split. And what are those huge trees with tiny seeds and huge bodies? The assattha, the banyan, the pilakkha, the udumbara, the kacchaka, and the kapitthana: these are those huge trees with tiny seeds and huge bodies, encirclers of other trees, and the trees which they encircle become bent, twisted, and split. So too, bhikkhus, when some clansman here has left behind sensual pleasures and gone forth from the household life into homelessness, he becomes bent, twisted, and split because of those same sensual pleasures, or because of others worse than them.

“These five, bhikkhus, are obstructions, hindrances, encirclers of the mind, weakeners of wisdom. What five? Sensual desire is an obstruction, a hindrance encircling the mind, a weakener of wisdom. Ill will … Sloth and torpor … Restlessness and remorse … Doubt is an obstruction … a weakener of wisdom. These are the five obstructions, hindrances, encirclers of the mind, weakeners of wisdom.

“These seven factors of enlightenment, bhikkhus, are nonobstructions, nonhindrances, nonencirclers of the mind; when developed and cultivated they lead to the realization of the fruit of true knowledge and liberation. What seven? The enlightenment factor of mindfulness is a nonobstruction … The enlightenment factor of discrimination of states … The enlightenment factor of energy … The enlightenment factor of rapture … The enlightenment factor of tranquillity … The enlightenment factor of concentration … The enlightenment factor of equanimity is a nonobstruction.… These seven factors of enlightenment are nonobstructions, nonhindrances, nonencirclers of the mind; when developed and cultivated they lead to the realization of the fruit of true knowledge and liberation.”


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Ud 7.4 Kāmesu Satta Sutta: Attached to Sensual Pleasures (2)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Sāvatthī at Jeta’s Grove, Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. And on that occasion, most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures. They lived infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures. Then early in the morning the Blessed One adjusted his under robe and–carrying his bowl & robes–went into Sāvatthī for alms. He saw that most of the people in Sāvatthī were excessively attached to sensual pleasures, that they live infatuated with, greedy for, addicted to, fastened to, absorbed in sensual pleasures.

Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:

Blinded by sensuality
covered by the net,
veiled with the veil of craving,
bound by the Kinsman of the heedless,
like fish in the mouth of a trap,
they go to aging & death,
like a milk-drinking calf to its mother.


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Snp 4.1 Kāmasutta: Sensual Pleasures

If a mortal desires sensual pleasure
and their desire succeeds,
they definitely become elated,
having got what they want.

But for that person in the throes of pleasure,
aroused by desire,
if those pleasures fade,
it hurts like an arrow’s strike.

One who, being mindful,
avoids sensual pleasures
like side-stepping a snake’s head,
transcends attachment to the world.

There are many objects of sensual desire:
fields, lands, and gold; cattle and horses;
slaves and servants; women and relatives.
When a man lusts over these,

the weak overpower him
and adversities crush him.
Suffering follows him
like water in a leaky boat.

That’s why a person, ever mindful,
should avoid sensual pleasures.
Give them up and cross the flood,
as a bailed-out boat reaches the far shore.


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AN 5.200 From… Nissāraṇīyasutta: Elements of Escape

“Mendicants, there are these five elements of escape. What five?

Take a case where a mendicant focuses on sensual pleasures, but their mind isn’t eager, confident, settled, and decided about them. But when they focus on renunciation, their mind is eager, confident, settled, and decided about it. Their mind is in a good state, well developed, well risen, well freed, and well detached from sensual pleasures. They’re freed from the distressing and feverish defilements that arise because of sensual pleasures, so they don’t experience that kind of feeling. This is how the escape from sensual pleasures is explained.…


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MN 54 From… Potaliyasutta: With Potaliya the Householder

[Note: These are very famous similes that are frequently mentioned in brief throughout the suttas. This is just part of a longer sutta.]

…“Householder, suppose a dog weak with hunger was hanging around a butcher’s shop. Then a deft butcher or their apprentice would toss them a skeleton scraped clean of flesh and smeared in blood. What do you think, householder? Gnawing on such a fleshless skeleton, would that dog still get rid of its hunger?”

“No, sir. Why not? Because that skeleton is scraped clean of flesh and smeared in blood. That dog will eventually get weary and frustrated.”

“In the same way, a noble disciple reflects: ‘With the simile of a skeleton the Buddha said that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks.’ Having truly seen this with right understanding, they reject equanimity based on diversity and develop only the equanimity based on unity, where all kinds of grasping to the world’s material delights cease without anything left over.

Suppose a vulture or a crow or a hawk was to grab a lump of meat and fly away. Other vultures, crows, and hawks would keep chasing it, pecking and clawing. What do you think, householder? If that vulture, crow, or hawk doesn’t quickly let go of that lump of meat, wouldn’t that result in death or deadly suffering for them?”

“Yes, sir.” …

“Suppose a person carrying a blazing grass torch was to walk against the wind. What do you think, householder? If that person doesn’t quickly let go of that blazing grass torch, wouldn’t they burn their hands or arm or other limb, resulting in death or deadly suffering for them?”

“Yes, sir.” …

“Suppose there was a pit of glowing coals deeper than a man’s height, full of glowing coals that neither flamed nor smoked. Then a person would come along who wants to live and doesn’t want to die, who wants to be happy and recoils from pain. Then two strong men would grab them by the arms and drag them towards the pit of glowing coals. What do you think, householder? Wouldn’t that person writhe and struggle to and fro?”

“Yes, sir. Why is that? For that person knows: ‘If I fall in that pit of glowing coals, that’d result in my death or deadly pain.’” …

“Suppose a person was to see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds in a dream. But when they woke they couldn’t see them at all. …

Suppose a man had borrowed some goods—a gentleman’s carriage and fine jewelled earrings—and preceded and surrounded by these he proceeded through the middle of Āpaṇa. When people saw him they’d say: ‘This must be a wealthy man! For that’s how the wealthy enjoy their wealth.’ But when the owners saw him, they’d take back what was theirs. What do you think? Would that be enough for that man to get upset?”

“Yes, sir. Why is that? Because the owners took back what was theirs.” …

“Suppose there was a dark forest grove not far from a town or village. And there was a tree laden with fruit, yet none of the fruit had fallen to the ground. And along came a person in need of fruit, wandering in search of fruit. Having plunged deep into that forest grove, they’d see that tree laden with fruit. They’d think: ‘That tree is laden with fruit, yet none of the fruit has fallen to the ground. But I know how to climb a tree. Why don’t I climb the tree, eat as much as I like, then fill my pouch?’ And that’s what they’d do. And along would come a second person in need of fruit, wandering in search of fruit, carrying a sharp axe. Having plunged deep into that forest grove, they’d see that tree laden with fruit. They’d think: ‘That tree is laden with fruit, yet none of the fruit has fallen to the ground. But I don’t know how to climb a tree. Why don’t I chop this tree down at the root, eat as much as I like, then fill my pouch?’ And so they’d chop the tree down at the root. What do you think, householder? If the first person, who climbed the tree, doesn’t quickly come down, when that tree fell wouldn’t they break their hand or arm or other limb, resulting in death or deadly suffering for them?”

“Yes, sir.”

“In the same way, a noble disciple reflects: ‘With the simile of the fruit tree the Buddha said that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks.’ Having truly seen this with right understanding, they reject equanimity based on diversity and develop only the equanimity based on unity, where all kinds of grasping to the world’s material delights cease without anything left over.…



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MN 75 From… Māgaṇḍiyasutta: With Māgaṇḍiya

[Note: This is from a longer that gives even more wonderful similes about sense pleasures. Please read the whole sutta if you are able.]

[The Buddha:] “…Suppose there was a person affected by leprosy, with sores and blisters on their limbs. Being devoured by worms, scratching with their nails at the opening of their wounds, they’d cauterize their body over a pit of glowing coals. Their friends and colleagues, relatives and kin would get a field surgeon to treat them. The field surgeon would make medicine for them, and by using that they’d be cured of leprosy. They’d be healthy, happy, autonomous, master of themselves, able to go where they wanted. Then they’d see another person affected by leprosy, with sores and blisters on their limbs, being devoured by worms, scratching with their nails at the opening of their wounds, cauterizing their body over a pit of glowing coals.

What do you think, Māgaṇḍiya? Would that person envy that other person affected by leprosy for their pit of glowing coals or for taking medicine?”

“No, Master Gotama. Why is that? Because you need to take medicine only when there’s a disease. When there’s no disease, there’s no need for medicine.”

“In the same way, Māgaṇḍiya, when I was still a layperson I used to entertain myself with sights … sounds … smells … tastes … touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. Some time later—having truly understood the origin, ending, gratification, drawback, and escape of sensual pleasures, and having given up craving and dispelled passion for sensual pleasures—I live rid of thirst, my mind peaceful inside. I see other sentient beings who are not free from sensual pleasures being consumed by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with passion for sensual pleasures, indulging in sensual pleasures. I don’t envy them, nor do I hope to enjoy that. Why is that? Because there is a satisfaction that is apart from sensual pleasures and unskillful qualities, which even achieves the level of heavenly pleasure. Enjoying that satisfaction, I don’t envy what is inferior, nor do I hope to enjoy it.

Suppose there was a person affected by leprosy, with sores and blisters on their limbs. Being devoured by worms, scratching with their nails at the opening of their wounds, they’d cauterize their body over a pit of glowing coals. Their friends and colleagues, relatives and kin would get a field surgeon to treat them. The field surgeon would make medicine for them, and by using that they’d be cured of leprosy. They’d be healthy, happy, autonomous, master of themselves, able to go where they wanted. Then two strong men would grab them by the arms and drag them towards the pit of glowing coals.

What do you think, Māgaṇḍiya? Wouldn’t that person writhe and struggle to and fro?”

“Yes, Master Gotama. Why is that? Because that fire is really painful to touch, fiercely burning and scorching.”

“What do you think, Māgaṇḍiya? Is it only now that the fire is really painful to touch, fiercely burning and scorching, or was it painful previously as well?”

“That fire is painful now and it was also painful previously. That person was affected by leprosy, with sores and blisters on their limbs. Being devoured by worms, scratching with their nails at the opening of their wounds, their sense faculties were impaired. So even though the fire was actually painful to touch, they had a distorted perception that it was pleasant.”

In the same way, sensual pleasures of the past, future, and present are painful to touch, fiercely burning and scorching. These sentient beings who are not free from sensual pleasures—being consumed by craving for sensual pleasures, burning with passion for sensual pleasures—have impaired sense faculties. So even though sensual pleasures are actually painful to touch, they have a distorted perception that they are pleasant.…



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Snp 1.9 From… Hemavatasutta: With Hemavata

[This is just a few verses from a much longer sutta. The conversation takes place between the yakkha Hemavata and the Buddha.]

“What has the world arisen in?” said Hemavata,
What does it get close to?
By grasping what
is the world troubled in what?”

“The world’s arisen in six,” said the Buddha to Hemavata.
“It gets close to six.
By grasping at these six,
the world’s troubled in six.”

“What is that grasping
by which the world is troubled?
Tell us the exit when asked:
how is one released from all suffering?”

“The world has five kinds of sensual stimulation,
and the mind is said to be the sixth.
When you’ve discarded desire for these,
you’re released from all suffering.

This is the exit from the world,
explained in accord with the truth.
The way I’ve explained it is how
you’re released from all suffering.”

“Who here crosses the flood,
Who crosses the deluge?
Who, not standing and unsupported,
does not sink in the deep?”

“Someone who is always endowed with ethics,
wise and serene,
inwardly reflective, mindful,
crosses the flood so hard to cross.

Someone who desists from sensual perception,
who has escaped all fetters,
and is finished with relishing of rebirth,
does not sink in the deep.”


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SN 46.51 From… Āhārasutta: Nourishing

[Note: This is just a small excerpt from a longer sutta. It’s worth reading the whole thing if you have the time.]

At Sāvatthī.

“Mendicants, I will teach you what fuels and what starves the five hindrances and the seven awakening factors. Listen …

And what fuels the arising of sensual desire, or, when it has arisen, makes it increase and grow? There is the feature of beauty. Frequent irrational application of mind to that fuels the arising of sensual desire, or, when it has arisen, makes it increase and grow.…

…And what starves the arising of sensual desire, or, when it has arisen, starves its increase and growth? There is the feature of ugliness. Frequent rational application of mind to that starves the arising of sensual desire, or, when it has arisen, starves its increase and growth.…


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MN 146 From… Nandakovādasutta: Advice from Nandaka

…“Suppose a deft butcher or their apprentice was to kill a cow and carve it with a sharp meat cleaver. Without damaging the flesh inside or the hide outside, they’d cut, carve, sever, and slice through the connecting tendons, sinews, and ligaments, and then peel off the outer hide. Then they’d wrap that cow up in that very same hide and say: ‘This cow is joined to its hide just like before.’ Would they be speaking rightly?”

“No, sir. Why is that? Because even if they wrap that cow up in that very same hide and say: ‘This cow is joined to its hide just like before,’ still that cow is not joined to that hide.”

“I’ve made up this simile to make a point. And this is the point. ‘The inner flesh’ is a term for the six interior sense fields. ‘The outer hide’ is a term for the six exterior sense fields. ‘The connecting tendons, sinews, and ligaments’ is a term for greed and relishing. ‘A sharp meat cleaver’ is a term for noble wisdom. And it is that noble wisdom which cuts, carves, severs, and slices the connecting corruption, fetter, and bond.

Sisters, by developing and cultivating these seven awakening factors, a mendicant realizes the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements. What seven? It’s when a mendicant develops the awakening factors of mindfulness, investigation of principles, energy, rapture, tranquility, immersion, and equanimity, which rely on seclusion, fading away, and cessation, and ripen as letting go. It is by developing and cultivating these seven awakening factors that a mendicant realizes the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements.”…


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Iti 109 Nadīsotasutta: The River Current

This was said by the Lord, said by the Arahant, so I heard:

“Suppose, bhikkhus, a man was being borne along by the current of a river that seemed pleasant and agreeable. But upon seeing him, a keen-sighted man standing on the bank would call out to him: ‘Hey, good man! Although you are being borne along by the current of a river that seems pleasant and agreeable, lower down there is a pool with turbulent waves and swirling eddies, with monsters and demons. On reaching that pool you will die or suffer close to death.’ Then, bhikkhus, upon hearing the words of that person, that man would struggle against the current with hands and feet.

“I have made use of this simile, bhikkhus, to illustrate the meaning. And this is the meaning here: ‘The current of the river’ is a synonym for craving. ‘Seeming pleasant and agreeable’ is a synonym for the six internal sense-bases. ‘The pool lower down’ is a synonym for the five lower fetters.‘Turbulent waves’ is a synonym for anger and frustration. ‘Swirling eddies’ is a synonym for the five strands of sensual pleasure. ‘Monsters and demons’ is a synonym for womenfolk. ‘Against the current’ is a synonym for renunciation. ‘Struggling with hands and feet’ is a synonym for instigating energy. ‘The keen-sighted man standing on the bank’ is a synonym for the Tathāgata, the Arahant, the Fully Enlightened One.”

This is the meaning of what the Lord said. So in regard to this it was said:

Desiring future security from bondage
One should abandon sensual desire
However painful this may be.
Rightly comprehending with wisdom,
Possessing a mind that is well released,
One may reach freedom step by step.

One who is a master of knowledge,
Who has lived the holy life,
Is called one gone to the world’s end,
One who has reached the further shore.

This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.


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AN 3.113 Āpāyikasutta: Bound for Loss

“Mendicants, three kinds of people are bound for a place of loss, bound for hell, if they don’t give up this fault. What three?

  • Someone who is unchaste, but claims to be celibate;
  • someone who makes a groundless accusation of unchastity against a person whose celibacy is pure;
  • and someone who has the view, ‘There is nothing wrong with sensual pleasures,’ so they throw themselves into sensual pleasures.

These are the three kinds of people bound for a place of loss, bound for hell, if they don’t give up this fault.”


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Snp 4.2 Guhaṭṭhakasutta: Eight on the Cave

Trapped in a cave, thickly overspread,
sunk in delusion they stay.
A person like this is far from seclusion,
for sensual pleasures in the world are not easy to give up.

The chains of desire, the bonds of life’s pleasures
are hard to escape, for one cannot free another.
Looking to the past or the future,
they pray for these pleasures or former ones.

Greedy, fixated, infatuated by sensual pleasures,
they are incorrigible, habitually immoral.
When led to suffering they lament,
“What will become of us when we pass away from here?”

That’s why a person should train in this life:
should you know that anything in the world is wrong,
don’t act wrongly on account of that;
for the wise say this life is short.

I see the world’s population floundering,
given to craving for future lives.
Base men wail in the jaws of death,
not rid of craving for life after life.

See them flounder over belongings,
like fish in puddles of a dried-up stream.
Seeing this, live unselfishly,
forming no attachment to future lives.

Rid of desire for both ends,
having completely understood contact, free of greed,
doing nothing for which they’d blame themselves,
the wise don’t cling to the seen and the heard.

Having completely understood perception and having crossed the flood,
the sage, not clinging to possessions,
with dart plucked out, living diligently,
does not long for this world or the next.


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SN 47.7 Makkaṭasutta: A Monkey

“Mendicants, in the Himalayas there are regions that are rugged and impassable. In some such regions, neither monkeys nor humans can go, while in others, monkeys can go but not humans. There are also level, pleasant places where both monkeys and humans can go. There hunters lay snares of tar on the monkey trails to catch the monkeys.

The monkeys who are not foolhardy and reckless see the tar and avoid it from afar. But a foolish and reckless monkey goes up to the tar and grabs it with a hand. He gets stuck there. Thinking to free his hand, he grabs it with his other hand. He gets stuck there. Thinking to free both hands, he grabs it with a foot. He gets stuck there. Thinking to free both hands and foot, he grabs it with his other foot. He gets stuck there. Thinking to free both hands and feet, he grabs it with his snout. He gets stuck there.

And so the monkey, trapped at five points, just lies there screeching. He’d meet with tragedy and disaster, and the hunter can do what he wants with him. The hunter spears him, pries him off that tarred block of wood, and goes wherever he wants.

That’s what happens when you roam out of your territory into the domain of others.

So, mendicants, don’t roam out of your own territory into the domain of others. If you roam out of your own territory into the domain of others, Māra will find a vulnerability and get hold of you.

And what is not a mendicant’s own territory but the domain of others? It’s the five kinds of sensual stimulation. What five? Sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. Sounds known by the ear … Smells known by the nose … Tastes known by the tongue … Touches known by the body that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. This is not a mendicant’s own territory but the domain of others.

You should roam inside your own territory, the domain of your fathers. If you roam inside your own territory, the domain of your fathers, Māra won’t find a vulnerability or get hold of you.

And what is a mendicant’s own territory, the domain of the fathers? It’s the four kinds of mindfulness meditation. What four? It’s when a mendicant meditates by observing an aspect of the body—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of covetousness and displeasure for the world. They meditate observing an aspect of feelings … mind … principles—keen, aware, and mindful, rid of covetousness and displeasure for the world. This is a mendicant’s own territory, the domain of the fathers.”



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Iti 96 Kāmayogasutta: The Bonds

This was said by the Lord, said by the Arahant, so I heard:

“Bhikkhus, one bound by the bond of sensual desire and by the bond of being is a returner, one who comes back to this state. One freed from the bond of sensual desire but still bound by the bond of being is a non-returner, one who does not come back to this state. One freed from the bond of sensual desire and freed from the bond of being is an arahant, one in whom the taints are destroyed.”

This is the meaning of what the Lord said. So in regard to this it was said:

Fettered by both these bonds—
The sensual bond and the bond of being—
Living beings continue in saṁsāra,
Journeying on to birth and death.

Those who abandon sensual desires
But have not reached the taints’ destruction,
Fettered by the bondage of being,
Are declared to be non-returners.

But those who have cut off doubts,
Destroyed conceit and renewal of being,
Who reach the taints’ full destruction,
Though in the world, have gone beyond.

This too is the meaning of what was said by the Lord, so I heard.


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SN 46.55 From… Saṅgāravasutta: With Saṅgārava—Sensual Desire

[NOTE: The complete sutta gives similes for the five hindrances as well as a simile of a mind without hindrances. If you have time it is worth reading the whole sutta. We can contemplate these similes not only in regards to memorization but also meditation in general.]

At Sāvatthī.

Then Saṅgārava the brahmin went up to the Buddha, and exchanged greetings with him. When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to the Buddha:

“What is the cause, Master Gotama, what is the reason why sometimes even hymns that are long-practiced don’t spring to mind, let alone those that are not practiced? And why is it that sometimes even hymns that are long-unpracticed spring to mind, let alone those that are practiced?”

“Brahmin, there’s a time when your heart is overcome and mired in sensual desire and you don’t truly understand the escape from sensual desire that has arisen. At that time you don’t truly know or see what is good for yourself, good for another, or good for both. Even hymns that are long-practiced don’t spring to mind, let alone those that are not practiced.

Suppose there was a bowl of water that was mixed with dye such as red lac, turmeric, indigo, or rose madder. Even a person with clear eyes checking their own reflection wouldn’t truly know it or see it.

In the same way, when your heart is overcome and mired in sensual desire … Even hymns that are long-practiced don’t spring to mind, let alone those that are not practiced.…


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Thag 1.93 Erakattheragāthā: Eraka

Sensual pleasures are suffering, Eraka!
Sensual pleasures aren’t happiness, Eraka!
One who enjoys sensual pleasures
enjoys suffering, Eraka!
One who doesn’t enjoy sensual pleasures
doesn’t enjoy suffering, Eraka!


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AN 8.56 Bhayasutta: Danger

“Mendicants, ‘danger’ is a term for sensual pleasures. ‘Suffering’, ‘disease’, ‘boil’, ‘dart’, ‘snare’, ‘bog’, and ‘womb’ are terms for sensual pleasures. And why is ‘danger’ a term for sensual pleasures? Someone who is besotted by sensual greed and shackled by lustful desire is not freed from dangers in the present life or in lives to come. That is why ‘danger’ is a term for sensual pleasures. And why are ‘suffering’, ‘disease’, ‘boil’, ‘dart’, ‘snare’, ‘bog’, and ‘womb’ terms for sensual pleasures? Someone who is besotted by sensual greed and shackled by lustful desire is not freed from wombs in the present life or in lives to come. That is why ‘womb’ is a term for sensual pleasures.

Danger, suffering, and disease,
boil, dart, and snare,
and bogs and wombs both.
These describe the sensual pleasures
to which ordinary people are attached.

Swamped by things that seem pleasant,
you go to another womb.
But when a mendicant is keen,
and doesn’t forget awareness,

in this way they transcend
this grueling swamp.
They watch this population flounder,
fallen into rebirth and old age.”


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Dhp 186–187 From… Buddhavagga: The Buddha

186. Even if it were raining money,
you’d not be sated in sensual pleasures.
An astute person understands that sensual pleasures
offer little gratification and much suffering.

187. Thus they find no delight
even in celestial pleasures.
A disciple of the fully awakened Buddha
delights in the ending of craving.


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MN 125 From… Dantabhūmisutta: The Level of the Tamed

[Note: Although this selection is on the long side, it is just the first part of a wonderful longer sutta. If you have time to read the whole thing it would be good. The rest of the sutta selections this week will be back to their normal length.]

So I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying near Rājagaha, in the Bamboo Grove, the squirrels’ feeding ground.

Now at that time the novice Aciravata was staying in a wilderness hut. Then as Prince Jayasena was going for a walk he approached Aciravata, and exchanged greetings with him.

When the greetings and polite conversation were over, he sat down to one side and said to Aciravata, “Master Aggivessana, I have heard that a mendicant who meditates diligently, keenly, and resolutely can experience unification of mind.”

“That’s so true, Prince! That’s so true! A mendicant who meditates diligently, keenly, and resolutely can experience unification of mind.”

“Master Aggivessana, please teach me the Dhamma as you have learned and memorized it.”

“I’m not competent to do so, Prince. For if I were to teach you the Dhamma as I have learned and memorized it, you might not understand the meaning, which would be wearying and troublesome for me.”

“Master Aggivessana, please teach me the Dhamma as you have learned and memorized it. Hopefully I will understand the meaning of what you say.”

“Then I shall teach you. If you understand the meaning of what I say, that’s good. If not, then leave each to his own, and do not question me about it further.”

“Master Aggivessana, please teach me the Dhamma as you have learned and memorized it. If I understand the meaning of what you say, that’s good. If not, then I will leave each to his own, and not question you about it further.”

Then the novice Aciravata taught Prince Jayasena the Dhamma as he had learned and memorized it. When he had spoken, Jayasena said to him, “It is impossible, Master Aggivessana, it cannot happen that a mendicant who meditates diligently, keenly, and resolutely can experience unification of mind.” Having declared that this was impossible, Jayasena got up from his seat and left.

Not long after he had left, Aciravata went to the Buddha, bowed, sat down to one side, and informed the Buddha of all they had discussed.

When he had spoken, the Buddha said to him,

“How could it possibly be otherwise, Aggivessana? Prince Jayasena dwells in the midst of sensual pleasures, enjoying them, consumed by thoughts of them, burning with fever for them, and eagerly seeking more. It’s simply impossible for him to know or see or realize what can only be known, seen, and realized by renunciation.

Suppose there was a pair of elephants or horse or oxen in training who were well tamed and well trained. And there was a pair who were not tamed or trained. What do you think, Aggivessana? Wouldn’t the pair that was well tamed and well trained perform the tasks of the tamed and reach the level of the tamed?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But would the pair that was not tamed and trained perform the tasks of the tamed and reach the level of the tamed, just like the tamed pair?”

“No, sir.”

“In the same way, Prince Jayasena dwells in the midst of sensual pleasures, enjoying them, consumed by thoughts of them, burning with fever for them, and eagerly seeking more. It’s simply impossible for him to know or see or realize what can only be known, seen, and realized by renunciation.

Suppose there was a big mountain not far from a town or village. And two friends set out from that village or town, lending each other a hand up to the mountain. Once there, one friend would remain at the foot of the mountain, while the other would climb to the peak. Then the one standing at the foot would say to the one at the peak, ‘My friend, what do you see, standing there at the peak?’ They’d reply, ‘Standing at the peak, I see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds!’

But the other would say, ‘It’s impossible, it cannot happen that, standing at the peak, you can see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds.’ So their friend would come down from the peak, take their friend by the arm, and make them climb to the peak. After giving them a moment to catch their breath, they’d say, ‘My friend, what do you see, standing here at the peak?’ They’d reply, ‘Standing at the peak, I see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds!’

They’d say, ‘Just now I understood you to say: “It’s impossible, it cannot happen that, standing at the peak, you can see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds.” But now you say: “Standing at the peak, I see delightful parks, woods, meadows, and lotus ponds!”’ They’d say, ‘But my friend, it was because I was obstructed by this big mountain that I didn’t see what could be seen.’

But bigger than that is the mass of ignorance by which Prince Jayasena is veiled, shrouded, covered, and engulfed. Prince Jayasena dwells in the midst of sensual pleasures, enjoying them, consumed by thoughts of them, burning with fever for them, and eagerly seeking more. It’s quite impossible for him to know or see or realize what can only be known, seen, and realized by renunciation. It wouldn’t be surprising if, had these two similes occurred to you, Prince Jayasena would have gained confidence in you and shown his confidence.”…



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Thig 13.5 Subhākammāradhītutherīgāthā: Subhā, the Smith’s Daughter

“I was so young, my clothes so fresh,
at that time I heard the teaching.
Being diligent,
I comprehended the truth;

and then I became profoundly dispassionate
towards all sensual pleasures.
Seeing fear in identity,
I longed for renunciation.

Giving up my family circle,
bonded servants and workers,
and my flourishing villages and lands,
so delightful and pleasant,

I went forth;
all that is no small wealth.
Now that I’ve gone forth in faith like this,
in the true teaching so well proclaimed,

since I desire to have nothing,
it would not be appropriate
to take back gold and money,
having already got rid of them.

Money or gold
doesn’t lead to peace and awakening.
It doesn’t befit an ascetic,
it’s not the wealth of the noble ones;

it’s just greed and vanity,
confusion and growing decadence,
dubious, troublesome—
there is nothing lasting there.

Depraved and heedless,
unenlightened folk, their hearts corrupt,
fight each other,
creating conflict.

Killing, caging, misery,
loss, grief, and lamentation;
those sunk in sensual pleasures
see many disastrous things.

My family, why do you urge me on
to pleasures, as if you were my enemies?
You know I’ve gone forth,
seeing fear in sensual pleasures.

It’s not due to gold, coined or uncoined,
that defilements come to an end.
Sensual pleasures are enemies and murderers,
hostile forces that bind you to thorns.

My family, why do you urge me on
to pleasures, as if you were my enemies?
You know I’ve gone forth,
shaven, wrapped in my outer robe.

Leftovers as gleanings,
and cast-off rags as robes—
that’s what’s fitting for me,
the essentials of the homeless life.

Great seers expel sensual pleasures,
both human and divine.
Safe in their sanctuary, they are freed,
having found unshakable happiness.

May I not encounter sensual pleasures,
for no shelter is found in them.
Sensual pleasures are enemies and murderers,
as painful as a bonfire.

Greed is an obstacle, a threat,
full of anguish and thorns;
it is out of balance,
a great gateway to confusion.

Hazardous and terrifying,
sensual pleasures are like a snake’s head,
where fools delight,
the blind ordinary folk.

Stuck in the swamp of sensuality,
there are so many ignorant in the world.
They know nothing of the end
of rebirth and death.

Because of sensual pleasures,
people jump right on to the path that goes to a bad place.
So many walk the path
that brings disease onto themselves.

That’s how sensual pleasures create enemies;
they are so tormenting, so corrupting,
trapping beings with the world’s material delights,
they are nothing less than the bonds of death.

Maddening, enticing,
sensual pleasures derange the mind.
They’re a snare laid by Māra
for the corruption of beings.

Sensual pleasures are infinitely dangerous,
they’re full of suffering, a terrible poison;
offering little gratification, they’re makers of strife,
withering bright qualities away.

Since I’ve created so much ruination
because of sensual pleasures,
I will not relapse to them again,
but will always delight in quenching.

Fighting against sensual pleasures,
longing for that cool state,
I shall meditate diligently
for the ending of all fetters.

Sorrowless, stainless, secure:
I’ll follow that path,
the straight noble eightfold way
by which the seers have crossed over.”

“Look at this: Subhā the smith’s daughter,
standing firm in the teaching.
She has entered the imperturbable state,
meditating at the root of a tree.

It’s just eight days since she went forth,
full of faith in the beautiful teaching.
Guided by Uppalavaṇṇā,
she is master of the three knowledges, conqueror of death.

This one is freed from slavery and debt,
a nun with faculties developed.
Unyoked from all yokes,
she has completed the task and is free of defilements.”

Thus did Sakka, lord of all creatures,
along with a host of gods,
having come by their psychic powers,
honor Subhā, the smith’s daughter.



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