EBTs on sensuality

I’m pooling EBT teachings and sources on sensuality and would like to share what I have including my observations, so far. Please join in and let me know if you have any good suttas or personal observations.

Actions: sexual misconduct
Intentions (cetana): to break precept/perform sexual misconduct. This is unwholesome kamma (akusala kamma)
World views, (ditti): sexual misconduct is not a problem, ‘free love’; it’s impossible to live without sex, celibacy is ‘unnatural’.
Values: how highly sex and sexual freedom is valued (over purity/peace of mind?); social norms-open marriages.
others: sex as a coping mechanism and a substitute for affection-love/ relief from boredom ‘something to do’/feeling empty and incomplete without sex.
Labelling - sensual ‘labelling’ (kaama sanna) of (non-sensual) matter (rupa)…
Emotions- (defilements)- craving/lust -kaama-raga
Intention (cetana): to break precept/perform sexual misconduct. This is unwholesome kamma (akusala kamma)
Contemplation of one’s precepts ( in terms of harm caused to self and others, from breaking them)- reviewing one’s precepts from time to time.
Practicing the foulness of the body (asubha sanna), cemetery contemplations, elements of the body contemplation
Strengthening fear and moral dread (hiri- otappa)
Practicing metta meditation, contemplating the qualities of the Buddha (Buddhanussati), etc.
Practicing suppression of the 5 hindrances through samadhi,
Practicing seclusion,
Practicing wise contemplation (yonisomanasikara) around sexual misconduct,
Not seeing the drawbacks of sexual misconduct,
Inconsiderate exposure to explicit material/situations/people.
Knowing the limits of sexual gratification.
Letting others control one’s sex life or having no choice in this.
Association with kalyanamittas (who can be protective as well as informative), including reading the EBTs regularly.
Understanding the issue is an internally generated one
Realising that control is possible, gradually with practice
The more you do it the more the mind is habituated to think down that line
There is never any permanent and final gratification in it.
The ‘grass is greener on the other side’, is always an illusion.
Money is a gateway for obtaining sensuality.

There are EBTs with some more material around this.
AN6.45: AN 6.45: Debt (English) - Chakka Nipāta - SuttaCentral
AN6.63: AN 6.63: A Penetrative Discourse (English) - Chakka Nipāta - SuttaCentral
Thag 7.1: Thag 7.1: Sun­dara­samud­da (English) - Theragāthā - SuttaCentral

With metta,


one of my favorite passsages of all time, MN 75

:diamonds: 215. “seyyathāpi, māgaṇḍiya, kuṭṭhī puriso arugatto pakkagatto kimīhi khajjamāno nakhehi vaṇamukhāni vippatacchamāno aṅgārakāsuyā kāyaṃ paritāpeti. yathā yathā kho, māgaṇḍiya, asu kuṭṭhī puriso arugatto pakkagatto kimīhi khajjamāno nakhehi vaṇamukhāni vippatacchamāno aṅgārakāsuyā kāyaṃ paritāpeti tathā tathā’ssa VAR tāni vaṇamukhāni asucitarāni ceva honti duggandhatarāni ca pūtikatarāni ca, hoti ceva kāci sātamattā assādamattā — yadidaṃ vaṇamukhānaṃ kaṇḍūvanahetu; evameva kho, māgaṇḍiya, sattā kāmesu avītarāgā kāmataṇhāhi khajjamānā kāmapariḷāhena ca pariḍayhamānā kāme paṭisevanti. yathā yathā kho, māgaṇḍiya, sattā kāmesu avītarāgā kāmataṇhāhi khajjamānā kāmapariḷāhena ca pariḍayhamānā kāme paṭisevanti tathā tathā tesaṃ tesaṃ sattānaṃ kāmataṇhā ceva pavaḍḍhati, kāmapariḷāhena ca pariḍayhanti, hoti ceva sātamattā assādamattā — yadidaṃ pañcakāmaguṇe paṭicca.

:diamonds: 215. “Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensual pleasures—devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever—indulge in sensual pleasures. The more they indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strands of sensuality.


Nice one :+1:!

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Delight is the root of suffering. MN1

This actually is the crowbar that helps me the most. It calls into question the simple assumption of “innocent delight”. Everything else turned out to be a a lengthy rationalization to uphold the presumed innocence of delight. I’ve even thought “hey, i can let go of relishing and still play in the never-ending stream of delights”. Nope. When this is, that is. When delight arises, suffering arises. Delight calls to self.

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Is it ‘delight’ arising from sensual pleasure or pleasure not of the senses? Only one is dangerous.

“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for form, Rādha: when one is caught up [satta] there, tied up [visatta] there, one is said to be ‘a being [satta].’

“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for feeling… perception… fabrications…

“Any desire, passion, delight, or craving for consciousness, Rādha: when one is caught up there, tied up there, one is said to be ‘a being.’

“Just as when boys or girls are playing with little sand castles… SN23.2
[I like this translation] SN 23:2  Satta Sutta | A Being

with metta

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Clearly delight in senses is dangerous. I have also found that delight in thought is dangerous. Thoughts are approximations for reality, but not reality. They are “useful” delusions, hence seductive. When I act from these “useful” thoughts, my actions lag reality just enough to create a break that messes things up.

Even delight in peacefulness is dangerous. I was content to sit in meditation peacefully. I became attached to peacefulness. Then when I hung on a cliff I was terrified and that was dangerous.

I have yet to find an un-dangerous delight.

Craving for food, is a big one to overcome… we depend on food to keep us healthy enough to practice- yet food gives a degree of sense pleasures that defeats that same purpose! How to overcome it:


with metta


In Buddhism, there are six senses, with mind being the sixth (thought is the sense object). So on this forum, I usually interpret a reference to senses as including the mind, and the Pali references to “pleasure not of the senses” to also mean pleasure not associated with a mental object. My interpretation of “pleasure not of the senses” is pleasure that arises independent of an object. It is not “delight in X”, for any X. It is just delight.


I really should read more. :see_no_evil: :pray:

I’m not sure how delight in peaceful meditation fits with the six senses, but I’m wary of that as well.

I would distinguish between delight during peaceful meditation and delight about peaceful meditation. If you experience object-less delight during peaceful meditation (e.g. first jhana), then that is good practice for experiencing such delight “off the cushion” as well. But if you are delighted that you are engaging in peaceful meditation, that won’t be any good off the cushion, and can lead to suffering - “oh, if only I could get out of this XYZ situation and go peacefully meditate”.

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“Now, take a mendicant who, quite secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unskillful qualities, enters and remains in the first absorption, which has the rapture and bliss born of seclusion, while placing the mind and keeping it connected.
As the placing of the mind and keeping it connected are stilled, they enter and remain in the second absorption … third absorption … fourth absorption.
This is called the pleasure of renunciation, the pleasure of seclusion, the pleasure of peace, the pleasure of awakening.
Such pleasure should be cultivated and developed, and should not be feared, I say. ‘Know how to distinguish different kinds of pleasure. Knowing this, pursue inner bliss.’
That’s what I said, and this is why I said it.”



(scratches head in puzzlement)
Hmm. I feel neither pleasure nor delight when I meditate. It feels about the same as brushing my teeth, but takes longer and is done more often doing whatever or not doing whatever. It feels a bit like watering a dry plant, water wicking up gently to soak in and permeate all. I don’t delight in watering my plants, I just water them when they feel thirsty. So about like that.

NOTE: If all this seems a bit weird to read, consider that I’ve meditated for four decades and have just started “reading the manuals” this year. I assemble furniture the same way. Backwards. And thanks for all your patience in helping me read the suttas–they are well…delightful. Hope I do not bring y’all undue suffering. I have absolutely no idea what the jhanas are. I just heard about them a couple of months ago. I figure they’re for later. I’m just breathing and typing and puttering around in the first two tetrads of MN10. :smiley:

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Once the inner pleasure kicks in you’ll get what the Buddha is talking about! :wink:


I meditated for 20 years based on a simple instruction to count my breath, and I also never felt any pleasure (piti or sukha) in meditation. It was more like a temporary reduction of anguish. I found it difficult to sustain a regular meditation practice. Only when I started practicing anapanasati did this change, and I find it easier to maintain regular meditation when the fruits of the practice are more evident.


It takes a full retreat setting to properly get into the bliss - the total lack of distractions and duties that require our attention. It helps to have removed some defilements (as in MN20) which is considered Right effort (step 6) which is beneficial for Right mindfulness (step 7) which would otherwise block the bliss.

With metta

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The temporary reduction of anguish with breath counting was my original experience as well and somewhat effective, but no more. And 22 years of rock climbing meditating on Fear and Terror was more effective, but only so far. Now with anapanasati it’s more like a gradual dissolving of a sugar cube in water, a disappearing of form. One of the odder post-meditation experiences is noticing the hand reach up to open a door without any self attached. It looks the same as my neighbor’s hand. Just a hand. This is neither delightful nor pleasurable, it just is. I think if pleasure or delight showed up I’d just look at it and watch it disappear. It appeared, so it should disappear. “This is a pleasant feeling MN10”.

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“Is it really true, Ariṭṭha, that you have such a harmful misconception: 5.8‘As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, the acts that he says are obstructions are not really obstructions for the one who performs them’?” 5.9“Absolutely, sir. As I understand the Buddha’s teachings, the acts that he says are obstructions are not really obstructions for the one who performs them.”

6.1“Foolish man, who on earth have you ever known me to teach in that way? 6.2Haven’t I said in many ways that obstructive acts are obstructive, and that they really do obstruct the one who performs them? 6.3I’ve said that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks. 6.4With the similes of a skeleton … 6.5a piece of flesh … 6.6a grass torch … 6.7a pit of glowing coals … 6.8a dream … 6.9borrowed goods … 6.10fruit on a tree … 6.11a butcher’s knife and chopping block … 6.12a staking sword … 6.13a snake’s head, I’ve said that sensual pleasures give little gratification and much suffering and distress, and they are all the more full of drawbacks. 6.14But still you misrepresent me by your wrong grasp, harm yourself, and make much bad karma. 6.15This will be for your lasting harm and suffering.” MN22 SuttaCentral

with metta


The striking part in this sutta is the end of each simile, which seeks to drive home the point that understanding the true nature of all that makes our minds feverish with desire and ache is the way to quench suffering once and for all.

But, we make so many compromises - it’s just delicious, tasty food after all, what could be wrong with it ?

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Nandī dukkhassa mūlan’ti

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It’s not a moral issue- if that’s what you mean- in fact food is a coping mechanism for depression, as it probably secretes Serotonin from the gut, an ingredient of antidepressants, but ‘comfort eating’ especially of sweet foods can leads to weight gain, and further resultant issues with body image and healthiness.

Having said that:

Migajāla, there are sights known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. If a mendicant approves, welcomes, and keeps clinging to them, this gives rise to relishing. When there’s relishing there’s lust. When there’s lust there is a fetter. A mendicant who is fettered by relishing is said to live with a partner… even if they frequent remote lodgings in the wilderness and the forest that are quiet and still, far from the madding crowd, remote from human settlements, and appropriate for retreat. Why is that? For craving is their partner, and they haven’t given it up. SuttaCentral

The ‘battle for samadhi’, against the hindrances;

At Sāvatthī. Then the nun Vijayā robed up in the morning … and sat at the root of a tree for the day’s meditation. Then Māra the Wicked, wanting to make the nun Vijayā feel fear, terror, and goosebumps, wanting to make her fall away from immersion, went up to her and addressed her in verse:

“You’re young and beautiful,
and I’m a youth in my prime.
Come, my lady, let us enjoy
the music of a five-pliece band.”

Then the nun Vijayā thought: “Who’s speaking this verse, a human or a non-human?” Then she thought: “This is Māra the Wicked, wanting to make me feel fear, terror, and goosebumps, wanting to make me fall away from immersion!” SuttaCentral

with metta

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