Selfless Sense control

Oddly, no.

In meditation, the compulsions ease, we relinquish the craving and peace emerges. However, arising from meditation, the grasping returns. We therefore need to do one of two things to untie the knot of suffering:

  1. Restrain the craving moment by moment (not easy)
  2. Bring meditation into our daily lives moment by moment (not easy)

Buddhism is a PITA. We have to earn Right Freedom through endless diligent practice.

Delight is the root of suffering. --mn1/en/bodhi

Does delight restrain itself?
I think not.
Delight is the self.

The senses are just bearers of information. It’s the feeling of attraction that will gradually diminish. But this rather difficult task does not happen so automatically when you stop identifying with your impulses and experiences, there are few other requirements: you must have a motivation to stop being attracted by sensorial stimuli, and must keep that motivation close to memory and attention, and must have the faith that this is possible, doable, and worthwhile.

This would be great! :star_struck: If you really do that, the first thing that will happen afterwards is that the conditioned impulse (or intention) will instantly cease! Hooray!

In fact, there’s no other way to transcend conditioned responses and impulses. But consider also that conflicting impulses and intentions arise all the time, and often the impulse to stare at the beautiful stimulus arises simultaneously along with the impulse to not look at it (supposing you are motivated by Dhamma). Here there’s an opportunity for restraint, but even that is not done through willpower, but rather through samadhi.

There are also myriad meditation subjects which help subvert the natural inclinations of mind, asubha, not-beautiful, is a very ancient such technique which is remarkably effective in the case of sensorial attractions. But recognising anatta with regard to one’s own sensorial experience and impulses is the most superior of all.

Try it for a while! And see what happens!



I think if you meditate and think that you have relinquished craving but find that after you get up it is still there, then I don’t think that you relinquished it at all and most likely regard craving as a gross sensual pursuit rather than a subtle state?

If the state of peace that emerges in meditation disappears after meditation then it sounds like a somewhat waste of time, of course, one might be making progress in understanding. A state of peace that requires meditation maintenance seems pretty shaky.
I am more interested in a maintenance free kind of peace.

What can be ‘done’ so that I don’t even have to restrain?

Now THAT is the “million-dollar question!”. :rofl:

Consider this perspective for a gentle soul unwilling to exert overmuch:

One does not wish to harm others.
One wishes to have chocolate cake.
There are others here who like chocolate cake.
There is only one piece of cake left.

The way without restraint is to simply want the best for all. Thinking this way, one shares the cake without restraint and without resentment.

Note that even living this way suffering will still appear. That kind and gentle soul we might find, fall in love with and marry will die. When that suffering arises, come back to the suttas and look deeper.


I practice this Path as not practicing it is even harder. Suffering motivates my practice.

Not-self is realised at several stages:

  1. As a ‘view’. This is a conceptual acceptance of not-self. You arrive at this from ‘the voice of another’ or wise contemplation. We can contemplate the body and the mental processes to understand how they don’t make up a Self. This is the self view - one of three fetters.
  2. As thinking- these are habitual thinking patterns that utilise a self to think about experiences. These can be eroded.
  3. As instant erroneous identification of processes of the mind or body. The sign of not-self should be practiced for changes to take place here. This would probably be the subtlest level of ignorance.

These are the three levels of ‘perversions’ (vipallasa).

The Self seemingly ceases in some experiences. This might be enough for some to understand that everything is not-self.
However some might find that this in itself adequately convincing and might need further deep seeing into a senses or aggregates. Some people find Asubha helps especially if their sense of self is around their body. In any case it must be clear that there’s nothing which can be considered as Self. This is despite whether the sense of self is present. That sense of self is ignorance in action. It is not to be relied upon. Continuity, control, and causality must be investigated!


The eye is present as an inferred image because I am seeing. I experience it as an external object which doesn’t appear directly, even when I perceive it in a mirror or touch it with my hand. If I pay attention to the physical eye, it is generally with a neutral sensation but it can be painful at times. I know that this seeing organ diminishes because of the present blurry vision, helped back into clarity with glasses.
So due to sight and touch and the quality of such perceptions, I infer an eye, the mental image of eye appears when I think about the eye. I imagine the eyeball and it’s physical sensation.

However the mechanics/inner workings of the eye are not operated by me, it’s way of seeing I have no say over. The way it works does not appear but I know it sees. It is almost like another creature living in my head. It searches for and finds particular sights amongst many possible sights, it seems selective.
To assume that it is self aware seems stupid, it is more like a plant to me. It feeds, grows, lives. A symbiotic organism living in the head of the body. A light absorbing jelly ball with roots.
It seeks and sees things which produce certain effects like lust, anger, delusion, joy,calm,inspiration etc the most intense sights seem to be the most searched after. Therefore if the eye is what it seems i.e a plant, a creature, then it can be guided, governed as such. If it is not governed it will naturally just go the path of least resistance, or whatever it has been doing , it is thus far not producing anything liberating and in fact I can say that it is more on the untrained side.

The eye seeing sights is not beneficial apart from the basic function for survival. It sees this and that, this and that…until it ends. Every sight is just seen. There has been so far no lasting sight , no sight that the eye has stuck on. The eye cannot keep the light it receives, just like eating food…except for the excrement part. In fact what the eye gets from its living is not known to me, it’s as pointless as a flower or like an animal that has its own feeding ground where it roams aimlessly.

The eye organism ,like a flower/plant, indicates to me that it does not think, therefore I infer that it is not even unconcerned about me, it doesn’t and cannot acknowledge me or my concerns. It is not a self aware entity that I can communicate with. It is simply a bodily organ, making up a significant part of my experience and so I cannot just ignore it.
I can choose to damage it on some levels, like blinding it in various ways but even once blinded, the blinded eye or missing eye remains as an image or thought, just like before and it would still play a significant part. .
Knowing that the eye is growing or feeding in whatever way presents itself, I can see why guarding of the eye is important. If it feeds on things which result in an agitated mind then it’s best just to keep it clear of such sights., Which then could produce a less agitated experience but it is not satisfactory because it’s not about finding the right kind of sights which will make all things wonderful.
In fact the more the eyes is seen as it is, like a plant etc the less importance sights become and I could say that that transcendent attitude is satisfying because it doesn’t depend on sights or state of eye.
So I could calm the eye through restraint, which is pleasant but I cannot rely on the eye or sights to sustain that pleasure. However if I grow the knowledge of the Nature of eye, then the pleasure of release(transcendent attitude) will sustain itself because it is dependent on knowing the Nature of eye and sights, not on particular sights but sight in general( they only remind me of the knowledge i.e anicca,dukkha,anatta).

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With a gun pointed at your eye, facing death, what would you see?

One who practiced rightly, would not be oblivious to the danger, the avoidance of the pain will be preferred (since it’s not really a pleasant abiding).
Fear of death would not be a problem since he has already died beforehand, as in, relinquished conceit/identification.
Also, the possibility of pain or imminent death cannot induce ignorance again (for one who practicesd rightly).

One would see a sight, perceive a perception, feeling a feeling, neither of which are identified with.

In MN:145, the advice to Punna discourse, this is the kind of question that the Buddha asks him. The Venerable Punna might have answered your question:
" If they point a gun in my face, I would say , how wonderful it is that I was not shot"


Excellent sutta. I had not read it before. Thank you.

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Below is a translation (my version, perhaps the way I understood) of a dhamma point by a Sri Lankan nun.

In this dhamma of cause and effect (hetu pala) there is no physical self to attain nirvana or to travel in samsara.
So it’s the mental nature that goes in the cycle of samsara or attains nirvana.
When we investigate we recognise the mental nature that is prone to travel in samsara or the mental nature that could attain nirvana.
The thoughts of there is a “self” to attain nirvana or “no self” to attain nirvana are both contructed in our minds and should be let go of as both are extreme ends. When that happens there is wisdom which is also a thought. The seeing/understanding of sunyata happens through wisdom (yatha butha nyana) which are thoughts. To know that they are nothing but thoughts we have to not cling to the constantly changing always being put together mind.

This made me realise how hard the job of translating is. So thank you to everyone in SC for all your work and the feed back of the users.


Of course I am not altogether sure what this venerable nun is referring to here, perhaps in part I agree that conceptualisation, or more accurately, over-conceptualisation about thoughts of anatta is only tiresome and confusing, and not useful. But also perhaps in part I disagree with a middle-way approach when it comes to anatta, and not really on pedantic or conceptual grounds, but on pragmatic and pedagogical ones:

The thought “there is no self to attain nibbana” may possibly turn away a beginner from the path, because at this early stage of practice the psyche does not know how to be motivated by anything other than a personal sense of accomplishment or gain. But later on, that same thought actually becomes very important and perhaps even necessary, and its absence or neglect represent in my estimation a predominant cause of frustration on the path, and giving-up on nibbana! That such thought represents an extreme end, is probably true; but that does not make it false - for the thought that “there is any nibbana” and also “there is any path to attain it” are likewise extreme, but nevertheless necessary in order for one to pursue nibbana and follow that very path leading to it - and “faith” in this or renunciate enterprise is no mere accessory! Given what nibbana is, then, the thought “there is no self to attain it” becomes the only possible rational answer! But more than being rational, it is also effective, in that it points one’s attention precisely to that which is hindering one’s progress toward nibbana: māna or “personal incentive”!

However this is quite a subtle matter, and needs a lot of context to talk about it constructively; and that too is tiresome and confusing! :slight_smile: But I’d say that anatta-sañña is paramount and essential, but indeed, it is a sañña, not a process of ideation and abstract conceptualisation, but a recognition, a memory, and a recollection of a reality which though may be subtle, yet firmly secure and certain in one’s intuitive awareness.


Why is the emphasis put on the ‘physical’ and not the mental, i.e could one then say that it is the mental self that goes on and on?

There is no discernment of the body if there is no mind to discern, and no mind without the body being there. You cannot know the body without Thinking about.
Even if you think about a body which is independent of mind that is a also a thought.
And thus the Dhamma/paticcasamupada :“with this, this is”.
The body and mind are arisen together at the same time.

Assuming that the mental nature/mind is that which is independent from the body, is to assume a self.

But seeing that both body and mind determine each other, seeing that principle of ‘with this, this is’ ; then an independent thing, master of itself, creator of itself is inconceivable, a self is seen as an assumption due to ignorance of The Dhamma Principle.

If it were constantly changing then no change would be discerned in the first place. One cannot even refer to a thing called ‘mind’ if it were constantly changing. Particular thought come and go because the mind is already there persisting.
To refer to something, means that you can discern it, and to be able to discern , that thing must be there enduring(not changing) or ‘persisting’ while changing - ṭhitassa aññathattaṃ paññāyati -An:3.47

I agree that translating is quite a task, especially from Sinhala into English or from English into sinhala. I had a few English essays translated into sinhala and then back into English, and both English essays were completely different, not even remotely the same.

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This is like consciousness transmigrating. It’s incorrect.

This is correct. When the body dies a new body forms this interdependence.

If we are mindful we become aware that things change from one to the next. There is change after the object of meditation arises, while it ‘remains’ as well.

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