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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.…



Read the entire translation of Majjhima Nikāya 75 Māgaṇḍiyasutta: With Māgaṇḍiya by Bhikkhu Sujato on SuttaCentral.net.

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