Upādāna, Vanilla Cookies and the Sakadagami Stage

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    • #15486


      After my “day of reckoning” with my roommate and the whirl wind of emotions and thoughts causes by that incident, Lal recommended reading though the posts on Assāda, Ādīnava, Nissarana.

      As I was reading through the first three posts in that section, I kept thinking about these vanilla cookies that I’d bought and really enjoyed and ate the whole box in less than 24 hours. To top it off, the next day I bought another box and another the following day! I hadn’t had cookies in such a long time, I just splurged.

      After the reading the third post, Kāma Guna, Kāma, Kāma Rāga, Kāmaccanda, I realized I was in the kāma rāga category with these cookies. That is, liking them to the point of owning them for sense pleasure (vatthu kāma). Vatthu kāma is a key factor to attaining the Sakadagami stage and not having to come back to this human realm. All the while, I kept thinking “is it really worth it?”, but my mind wasn’t convinced…until, I went back to the second post, How Perceived Pleasures (Assāda) lead to Dukkha.

      There in point #2, which I’ve read over many times, was the answer and what convinced the mind is “upādāna” and “bhava”. Upādāna means what one likes or enjoys (ie, vanilla cookies) and “bhava means “potential to bring about existence” and that existence is according what one craves for (upādāna)”. Therefore, I was willing to come back here for vanilla cookies?!!! “What counts is what you crave at the cuti-patisandhi moment” and are vanilla cookies or anything here for that matter, worth coming back to this human realm? The answer for me is a resounding “NO”!

      My life here has been hard (no lack of suffering) from the fallout of sense pleasures and not worth coming back here for. Thus, the gratification from any temporary thing is not worth it (worthlessness, anatta). This goes for things disliked (patigha)…are any of those annoying things worth holding onto if they will make me come back here? NO!

      Now, as I feel emotions (vinnana) come up about anything, I ask myself “is it worth coming back for?”

      BTW, if you need help seeing the dangers in cookies (sugar), just read about the detrimental effects is has on your mental health: depression, anxiety and dementia. These are dangers that happen in this life that are obvious and will take out your ability to comprehend Tilakkhana.

      With metta!

    • #15487

      Indulging in vanilla cookies is no different from smoking weeds. Vanilla cookies and weeds are just sense objects. We crave for the sensual pleasures from the gratification process.

      If you have ever stored honey outside your fridge, chances are ants will enter the jar or container. When you open up the container, you could see that they are already dead inside. Either they are drown by honey or they eat themselves to death. I don’t know. Whatever it is, we can deduce a fact from this observation – Ants cannot withstand the temptation from honey.

      Ants die for honey just like men die for money. Honey is to money, just like vanilla cookie is to weeds.

    • #15488

      Hi Donna

      …moreover you’re funny.The problem isn’t that you ate vanilla cookies the problem is how many you ate and how.
      Or does one has to eat I.e. “garlic cookies” to prove what? Had you eaten 2 or 3 cookies with the right mindset then such wouldn’t have triggered bad kamma… If with the right mindset… imo.

    • #15491

      Donna is exactly right. This can be said in many different ways, and another is paticca samuppada: pati icca leading to sama uppada; see the “Paticca Samuppada” section.

      • As long as one engages in apayagami activities, that means one has upadana for them. Then a birth in the apayas becomes possible.
      • As long as one engages in sensual activities, that means one has upadana for them. Then a birth in the kama loka becomes possible.
      • As long as one enjoys and craves jhanic pleasures, that means one has upadana for them. Then a birth in the brahma loka becomes possible.

      When one realizes that none of those lead to a PERMANENT happiness, one loses upadana for them one by one, starting with the apayagami activities. At that stage, one may still enjoy sense pleasures, and thus may not have lost upadana for them. It is a step-by-step process.

      Again, I want to emphasize that just avoiding the physical activity (in this case eating cookies) not enough. With time, one needs to suppress indulging in conscious thoughts about those cookies (vaci sankhara) too. That is the harder step.

      Now, it is also IMPORTANT to realize that eating a cookie or two once in a while is not a problem. We cannot avoid eating tasty things all the time and that is not needed. It is a balance and one will KNOW the difference between just eating a few cookies to quench hunger and craving for cookies. It is the CRAVING that needs to be gradually reduced. One WILL KNOW whether one has cravings or not. So, an effort needs to be made to gradually reduce that craving.

      This is why real “sila” is not a mere a set of rules. One’s mind knows when one craves. This is such an important point that let me give another example.
      – Suppose one abstains from the “five precepts”: not even killing an ant, no stealing, no sexual misconduct outside marriage, no lying, and no getting drunk/drugs, etc. So, it may appear that person is a “moral person”. But he/she may not have lost upadana for such activities.
      – IF that person spends hours at a time thinking angry thoughts about someone who said a bad thing, or fantasize about having a sexual encounter with another person, etc, he/she is still breaking the five precepts.

      Now, these vaci sankhara cannot be stopped quickly. One needs to work on it. It may take time. That is how one cultivates Anapana/Satipatthana. A good approach is to think about the drawbacks/dangers in continuing such conscious thoughts.

      It is the javana power of thoughts that determine how strong a kamma is. Even without using the physical body one can do strong kamma with the mind via vaci sankhara: “cetana ham bhikkhave kammam vadami”, or “bhikkhus, I say kamma is one’s intention”. I have explained that intention is complex and may involve many different types of mental factors (cetasika); see, “What is Intention in Kamma?“.

      Johnny said: “Indulging in vanilla cookies is no different from smoking weeds.”
      Yes and no. If done with craving, they both bind one to the kama loka. But smoking weed can be bad for the brain, much more than cookies are bad for general health. Smoking weed or taking hard drugs can distort one’s mind and thus make one do apayagami actions too. So, not all sense pleasures are the same.

    • #15492
      y not

      Inflib (Donna):

      Now suppose for a minute that your craving were, not for cookies or for something that you enjoy by yourself, but for the well-being in the Ariya sense of the word, for someone who is dear to you, say a daughter. Of course, in that case, ‘craving’ would not be the word; I would say it could be described as a kind of ‘personalized’ Metta coupled with, as far as you are concerned, kama raga to a degree, because you yourself are deriving ‘pleasure'(albeit NOT A SENSE PLEASURE) from it,from trying to help her on, and from the attachment. For attachment it certainly is, no doubt about that. I do not know what the right word for it is in BuddhaDhamma. In English it would translate into something like: an irresistible loving/kindness compulsion.

      In such a case, let us say you were at the Sotapanna stage, and your daughter is not ( of course, you have no way of knowing that for certain; but that being so, you cannot assume that she is ), and she does not reach that Stage despite all your efforts, would you be willing to sacrifice your own progress on the Path and return to the human realm just for the purpose of ‘having another go at it’ next time around, or as many times as would be necessary for her to reach the Sotapanna Stage(at least)? Even here, there is no way of telling whether the two of you would be reborn here at the same time for that to become even possible. But you know wwhat I mean.


      y not

    • #15498

      Hi y not,

      What you’re asking is, am I attached to my daughters. This is going to be hard for many to understand without a long discourse on the last three years of our lives. Without going into all the details, I’ve been unattached to my daughters for almost 1 1/2 years. I know it would be hard on the younger one b/c she is still attached even though I prepared them for my departure. I’ve been ready to leave this life, (either in body or a move to monastery) many times.

      I don’t know if any of you have read about the lives of the Buddha’s female disciples, but there is a common theme…hardship, and I’m no exception. I think this is what Lal was pointing to about the differences between men and women. Women have to be dragged through the dirt in order to see the light/wisdom. There’s so much deep gati of dependence that seeing suffering in this world is just not there. I could be wrong here, but the women that have suffered the most are the wisest women I know.

      With metta!

    • #15499

      One could be doing things for the family/friends because of two possible reasons:
      – Out of attachment.
      – because one considers that is one’s responsibility.
      It could also be a combination of the two.

      I don’t think it serves any purpose to discuss this particular aspect.

    • #15500
      y not


      In my case it is a combination of both.I have the feeling this cannot help Inflib (Donna) at all, and had it even before, so perhaps I should not have mentioned it.

      Inflib (Donna):

      I understand. The part about the lives of Bikkhunis I had no idea of.
      “…I prepared them for my departure. I’ve been ready to leave this life, (either in body or a move to monastery) many times.” ” I prepared them for my departure”…Same with me, but only just recently. I do not consider moving to a monastery or going into seclusion seriously because my health does not allow it. So only the other case applies to me. Hence the sense of urgency.

      with Metta,

      y not

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