5 Hindrances: Sense Pleasure "Solution"

I am trying to deal with sense pleasure as a desire as it rises in the mind.

  1. Reflexively establishing that sense pleasures should not be taken up by the body. (Action)
    -The is the Gatekeeper guarding the sense doors.

  2. Recognizing, acknowledging, and understanding the danger. (Contemplation)
    -This is the removal of the root, doing this over a long enough period will eventually “remove”
    the desire/craving for that sense desire.

Is this two step process essential accurate? I understand when it’s put that way it looks easy and it by no means actually is all the time, but is it correct?


These steps while on the right path, sound superficial as they don’t mention the underlying antidote, which is recognition of impermanence. The effectiveness of the second strategy depends on its fortification through exercises such as visiting morgues, attending autopsies, and studying the cycle externally wherever it is seen, because there are survival instincts which oppose the recognition of impermanence and generate delusion. These measures are prescribed in the first foundation of the Satipatthana sutta and the Mindfulness of the Body sutta Majjhima Nikaya 119. Also essential is knowledge of tactics in Majjhima Nikaya 20, and this summary: The Five Mental Hindrances and Their Conquest: Selected Texts from the Pali Canon and the Commentaries


This definitely sounds like you are on the right track. I’d like to help provide some suttas that you might find inspiring.

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…

…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.
Linked Discourses 46.55

I like to keep in mind that we are trying to develop right view, and see things clearly for what they are. Sensual pleasures are not evil or anything, it’s just that they lead to suffering and so they are unskillful. We can’t see clearly when we are under the control of sensual desire.

A place where we get the similes to reflect on regarding sensual desire is here: MN54

I really recommend you check that out to help you reflect on the dangers of sensual desire and see in line with how the Buddha saw this.
I also recommend to view the whole sensory world as unreliable and suffering as one big idea, versus fighting individual desires one by one. Reflecting and understanding these similes will help.

Also, another sutta that describes seeing the whole sensory world as problematic is SN47.7
There are other similar suttas of course, but this one the Buddha tells us:

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.

Another last point to add is that we can’t just let go of the sensory world and sensual pleasure without gaining anything. Nobody can do that because as humans we will always want pleasure and happiness. We must also enjoy and take pleasure in the spiritual path, in meditation and in generosity etc.
So be careful with making sure to gradually move over onto the spiritual happiness of meditation and at the same time let go of the worldly happiness. It takes time but it should be done though wisdom and reflection.

I hope that helps!


The impermanence would be the danger right? One who would take up the sense pleasure would be endangering themselves by subjecting themselves to that which is impermanent. You’d be making yourself vulnerable to preference: attachment or aversion. A craving for or to get away from that which you were subjected to.

So for the second step you are recognizing, ‘oh this mind is craving (towards or away)’ from a sense pleasure. Then acknowledge that; yes this has arise, this is unwholesome there is a danger here. Then after this discerning that there is a danger, one then looks and contemplates why that sense pleasure is dangerous (Dhamma).

M20 is definitely helpful here, as it helps directly with how to approach the issue or properly put it aside if one can’t “solve” it in the moment.

I was going through Geoff “Hindrance Conquest” when I was writing this and out of the the 5 sense pleasure has been giving me the most hardship.

Thank you paul1 you’re answer was very helpful.

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I was actually looking for the Sutta that had the “Land of Our Fathers” terminology in it, thank you. The others are helpful as well, much appreciated.

Yes someone was saying this to me earlier today. They said if I give up all the sense pleasure that I will live a ‘grey life’.

Spiritual happiness? Do you mean the Brahmaviharas? I’m not gonna get to the Jhana anytime real soon, the Brahmaviharas seem like my best bet. Are there others that bring spiritual happiness?

Yes. The uninstructed worldling imposes ‘continuity’ on every object, that is ignorance of impermanence and the delusion things continue in their present form, which is dangerous. When those things inevitably decline, decay and die, in that case suffering is experienced. This defies the fact that impermanence can be seen everywhere if attention is turned to it, but it happens slowly that’s where the deception lies, and the truth that must be digested. That’s why it’s profitable to ponder the survival instincts and how they must be opposed by exercises in cultivating a powerful knowledge of impermanence as described in the suttas. Then when the practitioner perceives any object they have a feeling sense of its impermanent character. From this feeling insights into reality are born. This doesn’t mean the practitioner doesn’t do anything, but they do things with a fundamental knowledge of their impermanent nature, which is a release and engenders a sense of joy.

These factors both bright and dark are focused in the body:

""Monks, whoever develops & pursues mindfulness immersed in the body encompasses whatever skillful qualities are on the side of clear knowing. Just as whoever pervades the great ocean with his awareness encompasses whatever rivulets flow down into the ocean, in the same way, whoever develops & pursues mindfulness immersed in the body encompasses whatever skillful qualities are on the side of clear knowing.

“In whomever mindfulness immersed in the body is not developed, not pursued, Mara gains entry, Mara gains a foothold.”

—Majjhima Nikaya 119

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I’m glad they are helpful!
Spiritual happiness doesn’t need to be something as profound as the Brahmaviharas. Anytime you speak, act and think with kindness gives a sense of happiness. Living well and being a good person can bring a sense of spiritual happiness. Living more simply and with contentment also brings spiritual happiness.
Think about the noble eightfold path, we have the whole morality section which helps bring about the conditions for meditation to happen.

Meditation will also bring happiness. Even just enjoying sitting there, being content can be so joyful and happy. Of course, over time the meditation practice will deepen and become more and more of a source of happiness.
The more you enjoy those kinds of happinesses, the less you’ll need to rely on the happiness of the five senses, which have lots of drawbacks and bring lots of suffering


IMO, you need to add the following

  1. Realize the benefits of the renunciation of that sense pleasure and turn the heart/mind towards something finer. (AN9.41)

You might be interested in MN 68 also. It seems to me that the process (in tandem with the other path factors) has to lead to deep samadhi (like the 4 jhanas) to truly get away from the 5 hindrances and overcoming the need for sense pleasure.

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