How much music would break the third precept in your opinion?

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  upekkha100 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #21490

    upekkha100
    Participant

    As said on this site, eliminating sense pleasures is not necessary initially on the Path. Not even Sotapanna nor Sakadagami have eliminated it. It is the third stage of Nibbana, Anagami, who eliminates sensual desires thus sensual activity(but this is not forced nor done via will power, but rather it is natural and automatic.) Eliminating sense pleasures could potentially even be disadvantageous if one forces it, and consequently might cause patiga in ones mind thus agitate the mind. At the same time, if it does not agitate one’s mind and one can do it without feeling irritation, this could also potentially make one progress more quickly if one refrains/abstains completely or at the very least indulge in the sense pleasures moderately.

    The third precept/third dasa akusala done by the body: kāmēsu miccācārā: is not only sexual misconduct/sexual overindulgence, but excessive indulgence of the other sense pleasures as well. Overindulging in too much food, eye candy, nice aromas, and music.

    Drawing the line between moderate vs excessive is quite discernable with food, sex, and aroma. I am personally not too sure about where the line from moderate to excessive indulgence is crossed when it comes to looking at beautiful objects or listening to music.

    Before I give an example with looking at beautiful objects, I want to know about music. As the title question says, let’s say one does not overindulge in any of the other 4 sense pleasures in the same day, how much music listening would be breaking the third precept in your opinion? More than 10 minutes worth, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc? At what point should one stop and draw the line?

  • #21495

    Christian
    Participant

    Ven. Kotthita: “How is it, friend Sariputta, is … the ear the fetter of sounds or are sounds the fetter of the ear?…”

    Ven. Sariputta: “Friend Kotthita, the … ear is not the fetter of sounds nor are sounds the fetter of the ear, but rather the desire and lust that arise there in dependence on both: that is the fetter there….”

  • #21496

    Tien
    Participant

    Hi upekkha100, you said “Eliminating sense pleasures could potentially even be disadvantageous if one forces it

    Yes, you cannot just eliminating it as your will, this require gradual training, resolute effort, accompanied by the developing of panna. But this (the attitude to procrastinate of restraining the senses) is not a good attitude to be have as a disciple of The Buddha. The Buddha always ask his disciples to restraint their senses:

    In Sabbasava Sutta (MN2), senses restraint is the second part of the Method to gradual get rid of asava.

    In the sixth part, the one in practice should dispel any kamavitakka (sensual thought), byapadavitakka (malicious? thought) and vihimsavitakka (cruel? thought).

    You said “I am personally not too sure about where the line from moderate to excessive indulgence is crossed when it comes to looking at beautiful objects or listening to music.

    In the third part of the above sutta, “the one in practice should using their needs (foods, cloths, shelter, medicines) for only these purposes, that is the continuation of life, support the training of the Path blamelessly and at ease. Not for fun, indulgence, adornment, or decoration. This is moderate.

    In Adhipateyya Sutta (AN3.40), The Buddha ask the bhikkhus to have responsibility for their resolve, not to involve in sensual pleasures’ or unfit/evil thoughts, because it can be observe by devas and it would be a shame for that bikkhu. The bhikkhus should also think of the greater goal, why they left their home into the homelessness, why they go refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma-Vinaya, the Sangha, so any kamaraga or unfit/evil thought – that they don’t mindful of – will not be fit.

    In Girimananda Sutta (AN 10.60), The Buddha said “Ananda, all sankhāra are like meatless bones, without substance, to be rejected like urine and feces“.

    In another sutta that I forgot its name, The Buddha point our precise way to get rid of sensual cravings. First, the trainee should develop the attitude of disgusting in sense objects. After this stage they can be equanimity about any sense objects and drop out the disgust feelings. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this.

    In my own experience, listen to music frequently can be harmful to the practice. I was listen to music very frequently (just few months ago), even participated in my school’s music band. Nowaday, as the result of the indulgence in music, sometime, a random song just pop up in my mind out of nowhere, a blockage to samadhi. I understand that I was feeding the “music vinnanas” to much in the past, so now it pop up as bhava in my mind, like a form of harrasment, they are vipaka that I have to endure (again, linked to Sabbasava Sutta, part 4). Seeing the causes, conditions, the unfruitful and the danger of any senses pleasures that I encountered, including subtle one like music, I was able to let them go and at peace.

  • #21503

    Christian
    Participant

    Totally not agree. Buddha Dhamma is not about poking out eyes nor destroying objects of affection for that eye. If that would be the case attaining Nibbana will not be possible.

  • #21505

    Lal
    Keymaster

    Christian wrote: “Totally not agree. Buddha Dhamma is not about poking out eyes nor destroying objects of affection for that eye.”

    Could you elaborate who said that? I did not see such a statement, but I may have missed it.

  • #21508

    upekkha100
    Participant

    Tien thank you for that detailed info!

    When I get the time later(today or tomorrow), I’d like to share my personal strategy/plan to reduce kama raga that is customized/suited for me. I’d like your input and advise. I value your posts. And of course welcome the thoughts/opinions of others who are trying to do this as well.

  • #21512

    Christian
    Participant

    @Lal

    In Kotthita Sutta, Venerable Sariputta explains that the problem is not an eye or music but the craving (on the basis of ignorance)

    My own experience is that I would listen to the music for example after understanding Anicca to some extent I would not need to suppress anything the craving just do not come when it comes to certain things and it dependent on that understanding.

  • #21515

    Lal
    Keymaster

    Christian wrote: “In Kotthita Sutta, Venerable Sariputta explains that the problem is not an eye or music but the craving (on the basis of ignorance)”

    Yes. that is correct, and I fully agreed when you wrote that earlier too.

    I was just questioning your earlier statement: “Totally not agree. Buddha Dhamma is not about poking out eyes nor destroying objects of affection for that eye.”.
    No one made such a claim.

    We need to be careful about not taking another person’s comments out of context.

    It is better to QUOTE what another person has written, if a rebuttal is needed. That way, there is no misunderstanding as to what is being refuted.

  • #21520

    Christian
    Participant

    Yes, sorry Lal.

    I just think the author of this post will do more harm on focusing to regulate such things by sheer force of will which would not overcome gathi to listen such music but understanding nature of this world will cut off craving to do so without much effort. I think it’s dangerous for the mind to regulate things like listening music like this, or like that, doing this and that – your mind will go inside, live naturally as you wish without fighting with yourself and then introduce Dhamma into daily life – the results will be better for sure. Beating up mind into submission will lead only to becoming insane if we try to control those things as they are anyway Anatta.

    • #21523

      Christian
      Participant

      Mind will go insane*

  • #21522

    Lal
    Keymaster

    No problem, Christian.

    It is fine to point out if a clearly wrong statement is made. Let us just make sure to quote the statement and point out why it is wrong.

  • #21580

    upekkha100
    Participant

    I know for the Path, if one’s kama raga is under control and tame, it is not necessary to force nor use will power for kama raga suppression, and that if one keeps following the Path it will naturally/automatically/gradually/eventually reduce in power. If one feels their kama raga is increasing and thus worsening towards kamachanda/lobha level, this is when force and will power are needed.

    Having said that, I’m sure there is another camp whose kama raga is under control/tame but still wants to reduce it even further. Using force/will power is us using our viriya cetasika. Viriya is the energy/effort we put into activities including the Path. Viriya is also part of Satara Iddhipada. For the Path, it is Samma Vayama.

    So the following is for those in that third camp who want to put Samma Vayama into practise in regards to reducing kama raga through will power(viriya).

    Now obviously suppressing kama raga is no easy task. I feel it is the strongest asava of majority of sentient beings. One of the biggest obstacles in sansara. Greatest and strongest of temptations. It is our strongest hardwired habits.

    Removing hardwired habits cannot be done all at once, just as an alcoholic would not cut off all alcohol cold turkey. That would cause withdrawal symptoms, and the person’s urges/cravings would only get stronger, and they would regress back to drinking alcohol. To make the transition a lasting habit, one should rather reduce the alcohol intake gradually, tapering off slowly/gradually so that they eventually stop drinking for good. So it becomes a new good hardwired habit that replaced the old bad hardwired habit.

    So I feel the same technique could apply to reducing the cravings for the 5 sense inputs.

    Everyone’s cravings and preferences for the 5 sense input pleasures are different. Not everyone will rate the pleasures the same way. Thus there really can’t be a one-size fits all strategy for all. But rather I feel it would be better if one could make a customised/tailor-made strategy for ourselves, each individual, that is suited to our personal preference/tastes due to each of our own unique gati/character/personality/cravings/desires.

  • #21581

    upekkha100
    Participant

    My strategy:
    Since there are 5 sense inputs, I personally will not tackle all of them at once. I feel this would end up failing. But instead target the easiest/least tempting ones first. Then eventually go for the hardest/most tempting ones.

    Rate the 5 sense input pleasures in two categories:
    1) Tempting level from strongest to weakest:
    -Ear for pleasing sounds/body for pleasing touches tied
    -Eyes for pleasing sights
    -Tongue for pleasing tastes
    -Nose for pleasing scents

    2) From easiest to hardest to relinquish/quit/reduce/abstain from:
    -Nose for pleasing scents
    -Body for pleasing touches
    -Tongue for pleasing tastes
    -Eyes for pleasing sights
    -Ear for pleasing sounds

    Now if one were to ask me just a few years ago about food, I would have said that it would have been one of the very last pleasures I could reduce the craving for. I was the biggest foodie my whole life, my childhood motto was “food is my pleasure.” That inner foodie is still there lurking inside of course. But in these past few months, especially recently, I noticed my cravings for it are not the same as before. Not as potent/strong as before. I feel a strong apparent decrease in my craving for food. I am content with bland food, just for sake of eating/sustenance and staying alive. I went from “live to eat” to “eat to live.” I personally think this is significant for someone who has been a foodie since childhood. I shared this to show that even laypeople, even anariya people who are not yogis, or have jhanic ability can also reduce cravings for something that is very tempting for them.

  • #21582

    upekkha100
    Participant

    Compared to the other sense pleasures, I can quite easily quit body pleasures and nose pleasures, cold turkey if need be. And now, I think I can do this for food as well, without missing it so much. But I can’t say the same for beautiful sights. And especially not for music. As you can see from the the second category, music is one of my strongest weaknesses. I do not think I will ever be able to quit it cold turkey. For this one, I feel I will let it run its course of reduction naturally. Yet still set limits of course so as not to cross the threshold of third precept boundaries.

    If I do listen, the 3 compromises/limitations/restrictions I make is:
    1) I set maximum limit of 6 songs in one day. Could be less than 6. But nothing more than 6.
    2) that I won’t hum it throughout the rest of the day
    3) That I try to stop the assada/vaci sankhara about it.

    But the thing is I am a bit worried listening to 6 songs maybe too much. So that is why I’d like to hear opinions from others. I’d appreciate all of your input. Does not matter if your opinions are not the same, not everybody will feel nor agree on everything. But I’m still interested in your advise. I’ll take all of it into account, to take the best course of action.

    So for someone in my situation/with my cravings, what time-limit do you think I should set for music listening(5, 10, 20 minutes)?

  • #21597

    Lal
    Keymaster

    upekkha100 seems serious about getting rid of kama raga. That is a noble goal.
    I am highlighting some of the key statements from the above posts and providing some suggestions:

    “So the following is for those in that third camp who want to put Samma Vayama into practise in regards to reducing kama raga through will power(viriya)”.

    That is a good resolve. However, it could be better if it is used with two other components.
    – In order to get rid of a habit, it would help if one can see the bad consequences. For example, smoking can cause lung cancer.
    – In order to see the bad consequences of kama raga, one should see the bad consequences of them. That is why I suggested the following section earlier:
    Assāda, Ādīnava, Nissarana
    – When one starts contemplating on those concepts, one will start seeing that what we normally consider to be “pleasures” have hidden dangers. Just like a fish cannot see the dangers in biting a tasty looking bait, normally humans cannot see the dangers in sense pleasures.

    “I am content with bland food, just for sake of eating/sustenance and staying alive. I went from “live to eat” to “eat to live.”

    That is a good sign. You may be starting to comprehend some of these aspects. In my case, my habit of having a alcoholic beverage at the end of the gradually went away, without me really “enforcing it”. But “enforcement” can and should be used to some extent too.

    “Compared to the other sense pleasures, I can quite easily quit body pleasures and nose pleasures, cold turkey if need be. And now, I think I can do this for food as well, without missing it so much. But I can’t say the same for beautiful sights. And especially not for music”. 

    That is good too. Now you have narrowed down your weaknesses to just two.

    “So for someone in my situation/with my cravings, what time-limit do you think I should set for music listening(5, 10, 20 minutes)?”

    Yes. I think that is good plan.

    So, basically if you carry out your plan with a firm determination, together with learning Dhamma, you will be able to succeed.

    In the Sabbāsava Sutta, the Buddha listed seven steps to remove the āsavas or cravings:

    1. Removal by clear vision of the nature of this world. The more one understands Tilakkhana (especially one’s inability to maintain things to one’s satisfaction), less of “sheer effort” (or will power) is needed to overcome kama raga.
    2. Removal by the restrained use of the senses: not to over-indulge in the senses).
    3. Removal by good and frequent associations: for example, with good friends and good deeds. Here, good friends are not those who do “partying” and having a good time. They are those who live a simple, moral life, and pursue Dhamma.
    4. Removal by tolerance and patience. For example, even if one is tempted to steal because one is hungry, one should contemplate the consequences and bear the hunger.
    5. Removal by staying clear of “bad influences and environments”. One needs to avoid bad friends, bad locations for living (due to floods, bad neighbors, etc), avoiding unsuitable times to go out, etc.
    6. Removal by getting rid of certain things to lessen the burden on the mind. One needs to get rid of bad thoughts that come to mind, for example, for excessive sense pleasure, hate, etc. Focusing too much on making money or “collecting stuff” is actually a burden on the mind, since one has to worry about their safety.
    7. Removal by meditation and contemplation. When one understands the above points, it becomes apparent what to contemplate on.

    Regarding the #1 above, I would also suggest looking into whether any of the 10 types of miccha ditthi are left.
    Micchā Ditthi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage

  • #21613

    upekkha100
    Participant

    Thank you so much for the encouragement and additional instructions Lal, really appreciate it!

    Lal wrote:
    “Regarding the #1 above, I would also suggest looking into whether any of the 10 types of miccha ditthi are left Micchā Ditthi, Gandhabba, and Sōtapanna Stage .”

    In 2016 before I got into Buddha Dhamma, I had 6 of the miccha ditthi, while only lacking 4 of the miccha ditthi. After I got into Buddha Dhamma that same year, the remaining 6 were eliminated as well. So at the very least, I do believe I am on the mundane Path.

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