Is there a sutta that says "double the fool who has neither sensual nor spiritual pleasure"?

Greetings dear forum members. :slight_smile:

Some years ago I read somewhere something along the lines, that Buddha said that if one has not any spiritual pleasure, then it is good to have at least some sensual pleasure, because double is the fool who has neither. Now I’m wondering if what I remembered is true and if the source was actual Buddha’s words, or some article/interpretation.

Does anyone knows a sutta which says something like this? :slight_smile: If it exist, I suppose it was a sutta delivered to a lay person.

I ask because this is pretty important thing for lay follower’s gradual path (early stages at least), so I don’t want to have a misunderstanding.

Thanks. :pray:


I’ve spent some time on google powered suttacentral search but I can’t find such a sutta. Also it sounds not very Buddhist, so maybe it just doesn’t exist.

Yes, I remember this sutta, basically he is saying that you’re in an even worse situation if you have no escape from dukkha at all, not even sensual desires, which shows that the Buddha is not a pain loving masochist. He understands the gratification and drawbacks of sensual desire. The gratification is that it temporarily subdues dukkha, it’s just a lower quality pleasure, but it’s still better than nothing. I’ll try to find the sutta.


Thank you Thito! :slight_smile: So after all it’s not just some imagination or misinterpretation. Yes, that makes sense exactly what you’re writing. But when I put into search “fool sensual pleasure” there were only suttas that criticise sensual pleasures, so I was like, yeah, maybe it doesn’t exist.

But I agree in general, that when people are on the very beginnings on the path, having some sensual pleasures from time to time can dissolve a lot of ill will, so it makes sense at least on “experiential” level.

Thank you :slight_smile: If you think it exists also, I’ll keep searching too! :slight_smile:

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One can still be an Ariya and indulge in sensual desires, it’s just that over time the drawbacks make you lose interest in it. It’s like someone knows smoking temporarily alleviates their stress, but the stained teeth, damaged lungs, and eventual cancer isn’t worth it, a better alternative is a vape pen, and eventually not smoking anything at all. Likewise senual desires aren’t worth it in the long run and there are better and safer alternatives like jhanas.

So yes, the suttas focus on the drawbacks of sensual desires because they don’t lead to nibbana.


Dhp 155 Those who in youth have not led the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, languish like old cranes in the pond without fish.

Dhp 156 Those who in youth have not lead the holy life, or have failed to acquire wealth, lie sighing over the past, like worn out arrows (shot from) a bow.


SN22.80:7.4: I say that person is just like this. They’ve missed out on the pleasures of the lay life, and haven’t fulfilled the goal of the ascetic life.

Maybe this is what you are looking for? It still has a parallel in Iti 91, without the surrounding narrative.

I knew that there is a Sutta like this, but it’s not easy to search for. Search for “missed” (or “missed out”) finally brought me on the right track. Hope it helps.


These are actually what I originally had in mind. I only saw them now!


While SN22.80:7.4 is more on-point & relevant, the Dhammapada quotes would obviously be the most well-known. :pray:t2:

Actually, upon reading SN 22.80 for the first time, it seems

  • SN 22.80 seems to only apply to the bhikkhu that is not practicing properly.
  • Dhp 155 & Dhp 156 seem to apply to the negligent layperson.

Thank you very much everyone! :slight_smile: I’m happy you’ve found the relevant suttas. ^^ All of them are very important in this context. :slight_smile: I gave solution to @sabbamitta because SN22.80 or Iti91 is the sutta I think I remembered. But also thanks @CurlyCarl for Dhp155 and Dhp156, because they’re also very useful in this context. And thank you @Thito for starting the discussion and for your wise words.

I’m glad to know that I wasn’t in mistake thinking like this. :slight_smile:

Sadhu dear friends! :slight_smile: