Sequence of the Gradual Training (Part 4. Sense Restraint)

Hello friends, Merry Christmas!

Here is Part 4 of Sequence of the Gradual Training:

Establish sense restraint:

I. How is someone restrained?

When seeing a sight with the eye, hearing a sound … smelling an odor … tasting a flavor … feeling a touch … knowing a thought with the mind, if it’s pleasant they don’t hold on to it, and if it’s unpleasant they don’t dislike it. They live with mindfulness established. They guard their sense doors like a tortoise with its limbs withdrawn in its shell, so that Mara would not get any opportunity (SN 35.115, SN 35.199, SN 46.6).

II. How to establish sense restraint?

I). By right understanding: MN 45, MN 46, MN 54, MN 75, SN 35.244; SN 35.101, SN 35.28, SN 35.115, SN 35.199, SN 35.203; MN 27; MN 2

  1. What is sensuality :

“There are these five kinds of sensual pleasures. Sights (sounds, smells, tastes, touches) known by the eye that are likable, desirable, agreeable, pleasant, sensual, and arousing. … However, these are not sensuality. In the training of the noble one they’re called ‘kinds of sensual pleasures’. Greedy intention is a person’s sensuality. The world’s pretty things stay just as they are, but a wise one removes desire for them.” (AN 6.63)

Sensual pleasure is:
(1) Mara’s bait;

(2) A creeper that might wind its “pleasant” tender, soft, and downy tendrils around the sal tree and eventually strangled/kill the tree;

(3) A cup of beverage possessing a good colour, smell, and taste but mixed with poison;

(4) A hawk that seized a piece of meat chased after by others;
fruits on a tree — the first man climbed this tree to eat the fruits and the second man cut the tree down;

(5) A dream, and borrowed goods;

(6) A thicket full of thorns; “whatever in the world seems nice and pleasant is called a thorn in the training of the noble one”;
an anomalous “pleasure”, like a leper with sores and blisters on his limbs scratching the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterising his body over a burning charcoal pit; although the fire was actually painful to touch, he acquired a mistaken perception of it as pleasant due to impaired faculties.

  1. The cause of sensual pleasures: AN 6.63

Contact dependent upon six-fold sense bases

  1. The gratification of sensual pleasures:

The pleasure that arises from six kinds (six senses) of sensual stimulation; although such pleasure is an anomalous “pleasure”, a mistaken perception of it as pleasant was acquired (see above); the more beings indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their craving for sensual pleasures increases and the more they are burned by their fever for sensual pleasures (as the leper did by a burning charcoal pit), yet they find a certain measure of satisfaction and enjoyment.

  1. The drawback/danger of sensual desire/pleasures:

Sensual desire is invariably bound up with dukkha, which manifests
(1) as a constant strain of discontent,
(2) as struggles and even deadly suffering for fulfilling the desire, (3) as disappointment and despair when failing to satisfy the desire as well as when failing to safeguard the gained,
(4) as even more struggles and pain for securing the gained and for gaining more. But all the objects of sensual desire are impermanent, and could change into undesirable states that bring suffering. In addition, separation from the beloved is inevitable, so pain and suffering always mark the end of each cycle of sensual desire. Sensual desire is itself a fetter and a hindrance; it leads to harming oneself and/or others, obstruct wisdom, cause difficulties, and lead away from Nibbāna. Furthermore, sensual desire brings suffering not only to this life, but also to future life, due to misconduct of body, speech, and mind.

“As to those recluses and brahmins who are tied to these five cords of sensual pleasure, infatuated with them and utterly committed to them, and who use them without seeing the danger in them or understanding the escape from them, it may be understood of them: ‘They have met with calamity, met with disaster, the Evil One may do with them as he likes.’ (MN 26)

“Bhikkhus, there are forms* cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu seeks delight in them, welcomes them, and remains holding to them, he is called a bhikkhu who is bound among forms cognizable by the eye, who has entered Mara’s lair, who has come under Mara’s control; Mara’s snare has been fastened to him so that he is bound by the bondage of Mara and the Evil One can do with him as he wishes.

“There are, bhikkhus, forms* cognizable by the eye that are desirable, lovely, agreeable, pleasing, sensually enticing, tantalizing. If a bhikkhu does not seek delight in them, does not welcome them, and does not remain holding to them, he is called a bhikkhu who is free among forms cognizable by the eye, who has not entered Mara’s lair, who has not come under Mara’s control; Mara’s snare has been unfastened from him so that he is not bound by the bondage of Mara and the Evil One cannot do with him as he wishes. [*And sounds, smells, tastes, tactile sensations, and mental phenomena …]
(SN 35.115)

“… dependent on the sensuality element, perception of sensuality arises;
dependent on perception of sensuality, sensual intention arises;
dependent on sensual intention, sensual desire arises;
dependent on sensual desire, sensual passion arises;
dependent on sensual passion , sensual quest arises;
engaged in the quest of sensuality, the uninstructed worldling conducts himself wrongly in these three ways—with the body, with speech, and with the mind.” (SN 14.12)

  1. The result of sensual pleasures: AN 6.63

When one who desires sensual pleasures creates a corresponding life-form, with the attributes of either good or bad deeds—this is called the result of sensual pleasures.

  1. The escape from sensual pleasures (renunciation):

From the cessation of contact is the cessation of sensuality, and the practice that leads to the cessation of sensual pleasures is simply this noble eightfold path.

II). By right reflection and contemplation:

  1. Contemplating the drawback/danger inherent in sensual desire

  2. Contemplating the benefits of escaping from sensual pleasures

III). By right attention:

Do not attend to things unfit for attention that arouse and increase the taint of sensual desire, but only attend to things fit for attention that abandon and decrease the taint of sensual desire. On seeing a form with the eye …, do not grasp at any theme or details but rather attending to its repulsiveness and impermanence (MN 2, Iti16 SuttaCentral, AN 3.68, SN 9.11).

IV). By keeping up with mindfulness:

If every so often one’s mindfulness is lost, and bad unwholesome memories/thoughts prone to fetters arise, one should arouse his mindfulness to quickly get rid of those thoughts (SN 35.244).

V). By developing jhana for more superior / healthier pleasure:
Achieving the rapture and bliss or something more peaceful than that to avoid returning to sensual pleasures that are inferior (MN 14, MN 75).

VI). By developing the meditation on foulness/repulsiveness: MN 10

For Part 1-3, please see:

  1. Sequence of gradual training - Discussion - Discuss & Discover (Part 1. Right View)

  2. Sequence of gradual training (Part 2. Right Resolve) - Discussion - Discuss & Discover

  3. Sequence of the gradual training (Part 3. Sila Practice) - Discussion - Discuss & Discover


Thank you for this @Starter ! This is shaping up to be an exceedingly useful resource for the serious practitioner.
:slightly_smiling_face: :sunflower: