Reply To: Ask me anything


Here is some interesting question I answered from our group. Maybe other people will find it helpful for their practices and understanding.

"For example, eating a piece of cake that was given by a friend generates a “good feeling” via the taste itself. That belongs to the first category. This is a kamma vipāka and there are “no new kamma generated”; see, “Avyākata Paticca Samuppāda for Vipāka Viññāna“. Thero seems to say there is no inherent pleasure in any of the senses, except for body touch. Lal says that sanna (taste properties in the case of the cake? Recognizing sweet, sour) and vedana (the taste experience as a „feeling“?) happen even in an arahant. But there is no further rumination or attachment. What exactly is the pleasure one experiences when eating a sweet cake?"

  • It’s all one sensual pleasure, we do not need to call it “eating a cake” or “having sex”. Once the craving is fulfilled we experience pleasure which are two types. Physical pleasure related to the qualities of such object and mental which lacking inherent qualities. So when something feels nice or taste etc. it’s mental fabrication that make it NICE of the basis factor. For example is something is sweet – it’s just sweet but on the basis of that sweetness we develop mental fabrication “this is nice, this is good”. So when it comes to any sensual pleasure they are pleasant but they are unable fulfill our cravings but for those sensual pleasure we often lie , cheat and do akusala kamma for it when actually we can not fulfill ourselves but them. In suttas you have many references that diseases, pain or pleasure is experienced differently between regular person (anariya) and Noble One (Ariya person). because we experience things thru wisdom and understanding of what’s going on (TRUE SATIPATTHANA which is knowing true nature of this world, not just recognizing sensation on the body)

"I have hateful attachment to sweets as I find them useless and detrimental to health - still I experience both unpleasantness and a bad mental feeling and at the same time pleasant feeling in the body (up to a certain degree of sweetness when it can become disgusting like if it has too much sugar)."

  • Whatever you have hateful or lustful attachment for sweets or sugars there is no point of dividing it as there are all one sensual pleasure. You recognize sensual pleasure but you do not recognize nature of this world or how things works in relation to your own happiness so you mistake that thru those sensual pleasures you will attain some permanent or long term happiness because of their “sensual” quality. This is way of regular people who are blind to wisdom or not capable of developing one

"Thero says that there is no gratification inherent in any object, but then he says that body touch does have an inherent property. Then there are extremely bitter things, I doubt anybody could have a liking for them"

  • Your question ideally represent the ignorance we all have (or had if someone attained Nibbana) and I mean that we can work from that actually to show light exactly of how things are. There is body touch or whatever quality it is or not – we are not able to fulfill ourselves and our cravings thru those body touch or whatever qualities of various objects or experiences as they can not penetrate our mind beside proper meditation that Buddha described. If we do not realize that we will suffer forever thru bilions of lifetimes craving more and more because of this ignorance related to rebirth process which is like glue to it. So you experience sweetness because causes and conditions are there but on the basis of that sweetness you developing mental fabrication of “I like this” or “This is great!” not realizing it so you develop craving for more.

Then there are extremely bitter things, I doubt anybody could have a liking for them.

  • It’s the same coin but different side, liking or disliking are the same. The problem is not only in liking but also in disliking things because it’s the same ignorance affecting our mind after death.

" Thero says the reason for insatiability is that there is nothing to gain from outside objects, as we experience pleasure in relation to them (from our attitude/attachment/what we wish from them), not from the object. So this includes the properties one can perceive from an object?"

  • When ignorant person experiences things he dislike them or likes them depends on their qualities but Noble Person sees their true nature so neither likes them or dislikes them but sees them as they are (which is without mental fabrication to the extent of developed wisdom (panna)). You seem to have hard time understanding qualities of objects/experiences in relation to seeing them as good or bad, but it’s not like that. It’s generally pretty easy to recognize (watch #discourses on “How to attain Sotapanna”) if you have good examples. You expect to not experiences qualities of the objects (which is not possible) but when you attain Nibbana you stop experiencing mental fabrication on that objects but objects itself can not be without quality unless you are in deep jhana or different state of existence at that moment. So understanding that nothing in this world can make you happy, there is no qualities in objects, other people, feelings, experiences or mental ideas/fantasies or whatever to fulfill your cravings. Once you realize that, you drop the craving or expectation from such objects/people/experiences but they will not lose they quality as such but your experience in relation and relationship towards those objects will change and they will not generate that much suffering (on Arahant stage no suffering at all)

"So an arahant who has cleared up all defilements (and has no more gathi connected with hatred, lust or ignorance) can still experience pleasure regarding a sense object that has no inherent property (as Thero says)? How would that be possible?"

  • He experiences object as it is without mental fabrication and knowing it’s true nature without ignorance. The more things regular person (anariya) experience the more confused it becomes and that why people are depressed and angry at world, develops heretic view (in contradiction to reality not in religious way) and that’s why we have all this socio-economical-political confusion because people do not realize how things are and there is no people who can explain it to people so we can all live in harmony with Nibbana or natural laws which Buddha explained to experience life in very wholesome way.

So it is sweet or tasty he does not feel craving for it or liking that would develop gathi in relation to that liking or does not have hateful and bad thoughts in relation to the object he would experience negatively as he knows it’s true nature and consequences of such thing. We can not get angry if things does not matter for us much and it’s not called being ignorant (as people can just numb themselves thru ignorance with slight of aversion) , we only get angry or happy for things which we value or see as worthy our emotions and thinking process. As Arahant we see everything as it is and we are happy and blissful because of freedom from all this confusion we had before

"Earlier you said: „the pleasure of the body is the same as jhanic pleasure.“ How is that the case?"

  • Sensual pleasure which reminds jhanic pleasure is only found in orgasm in skillful sexual union. (means that two people are experiences enough to develop peak of possible orgasm to the limits of body). Once that is developed at the peak we experience similar sensation and pleasure related to the first jhana. That’s why people practice tantra and other things. We are all like lost bees trying to find honey but only finding substitutes and get hooked on them causing our self stomach ache and death (which means being stuck in rebirth process because of unwholesome qualities we develop for such substitutes and when we experiencing them) . So sensual pleasure (sexual in this case) is resulted of overloading and fulfilling craving. Next stage are anariya jhanas which are results of suppressing cravings so after sometime as we lead “holy life” we can enter jhanic pleasures which results from suppression of those worldly pleasures. Next stage which is true holy life as attaining Ariya Jhanas which are caused by uprooting permanently fetters of the mind so our mind set itself in jhana spontaneously without effort to do so. For example when you get rid of disease you do not need to make yourself feel healthy as that state of health or feeling healthy results in disappearing of disease. So when you uncondition your mind from hindrances thru wisdom those Ariya Jhanas will happen on it’s own with wisdom.