Unusual Joys and Where to Find Them

We got used to find sukha at specific, relatively highly developed states of mind in the suttas, e.g. in the first three jhanas, or the ‘pamujja…samadhi’-series. I at least wouldn’t expect a noble-based joy before meditation starts. Yet we find it at several places, specifically with sense restraint and sila.

DN2, DN 6, DN 8, DN 10, AN 4.198, AN 10.99, MN 27, MN 38, MN 51, MN 94, MN 101, MN 112

Possessing this aggregate of noble virtuous behavior, he experiences blameless bliss within himself…
Possessing this noble restraint of the faculties, he experiences unsullied bliss within himself.
(transl. Bh. Bodhi)

So iminā ariyena sīlakkhandhena samannāgato ajjhattaṃ anavajjasukhaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti.
So iminā ariyena indriyasaṃvarena samannāgato ajjhattaṃ abyāsekasukhaṃ paṭisaṃvedeti.

For abyāsekasukhaṃ I would read avyāseka = ‘untouched, unimpaired sukha’ rather than ‘unsullied’

All those instances appear in the context of the gradual training, nothing surprising in itself. But I found it worth mentioning that we find the rather sparingly used ‘ariya’ especially with sense restraint - a practice not really emphasized in normal meditation teachings - as giving rise to sukha. And it reminded me how Ajahn Chah used to praise the practice of restraint in sila and senses…


I understand that the popular act of going into a retreat for over 2-3 days is already a form of sense restraint. It allows one to see things from outside of their sensual indulgence routine and usually opens the eyes to how pleasant abiding is to be present and still with oneself when you’re the least virtuous is body, speech and mind. This is quite mainstream Buddhism isn’t it?

Of course in the Suttas people who were taking the robes were doing it for life. Given the context of dependent origination of experience the results in terms of bliss and happiness should be proportional to the strength of one’s cultivation of foundational elements such as virtue and restraint. This last bit is what the mainstream Buddhism tends to ignore, mostly within laity, and that feeds a lot of expectation and henceforth deception.

Lovely title. It would make a great book!