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Question about monks and enlightened beings.

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  • Question about monks and enlightened beings.

    Do monks look forward to and enjoy their meal? Do they enjoy nature walks? Do they enjoy their showers? I guess I'm wondering what sense pleasures they enjoy and indulge in, since it's unavoidable.

    And with enlightened beings, do they get irritated? Do they have preferences and wants, even if minor? Do they experience sorrow or anxiety?

    I realize that each person is different, even with enlightened beings. But I guess I'm asking in general.

  • #2
    Dear Billy,

    I can't speak for all monks, but I know at least one who looks forward to his dinner every now and again... Also, most monks and nuns are still practicing towards enlightenment. They have not fully abandoned their desires and aversions, but may have reduced them to a certain extend (whether a little or much).

    Enlightened beings are really a different category. They are totally beyond many of the things that everybody else is liable to. Irritation is something that they do not experience. Desires, sorrow and anxiety are also things they do not have. They may have preferences, but these are not coming from desire. For example, everybody prefers to stay in the shade on a hot day. The same is true for an enlightened being. That is not coming from desire to be cool though, and neither from the aversion from heat. It comes from the wisdom that sitting in the sun will not do any good to anyone. They could also prefer a certain kind of food over another, because it agrees with their digestion more. So for them, the enjoyment and indulgence in sense pleasures is avoided altogether. They do not have those things. Their preferences come from something else.

    It's hard to get your head around it, but when you have had a really good meditation or deep insight, you can get a glimpse of what it is like. The mind is then free from desire and aversion for a while. Whatever people say or do can't hurt you. And whatever happens to you physically does not matter either, even if it is very unpleasant. There is still delusion, so you aren't enlightened, but it gives some idea that's better than just thinking it over.

    With kindness,


    • #3
      Thanks for the response! I thought I heard Ajahn Brahm say his favorite food was baked beans and that he likes sweet and condensed milk in his tea, and that he likes a specific tea. Also, I heard Thich Naht Hanh talk about how he felt sorrow when his friend died and how he likes to look at flowers and use incense and stuff. I find it all very confusing, because it seems that each enlightened being sort of keeps some fondness for things and some of their human "flaws".


      • #4
        Dear Billy,

        Is everybody who own a Ferrari a good driver? Don't just think that because somebody is a famous or even good teacher, he or she must be enlightened. It's better to go and live with them for a long time, check them out, and then make your own conclusion. But even then you can never be absolutely sure, because it is very hard to tell who is enlightened, especially when you yourself are not.

        But you can know that somebody is not enlightened when they really do have sorrow, regrets, anger or desire. The absence of those things is basically what enlightenment is, so saying you can be enlightened and still have them, is like saying you can have a cloudless day with clouds in the sky. You wouldn't trust such a forecast.

        Of course, saying your favorite food is hamburgers, or whatever, and actually desiring them, are two different things. Preferences and desires are not exactly the same. Although for most people there is a sort of bland between the two things, that's why it's often hard to tell them apart.

        Does this make sense?

        With kindness,


        • #5
          Thanks for clarifying! I'm sure you're much more studied on the subject. Also, I'm glad you look forward to your dinner.

          Gotta be honest, I got to a certain point in meditation where I became depressed with desires. I feel like I'm not supposed to have them. I think that's probably an unhealthy way of looking at it. Desires will naturally fall away when there is sufficient contentment and happiness.


          • #6
            Hi Billy,

            The desire to be without desires, is itself a desire! And then that can turn into aversion, which is basically the desire to be without certain things. That is not the way. The way is to accept whatever is happening in your mind, whatever it is. You can embrace everything. And things go in phases. As for me, sometimes it is easy to sit down and accept things, and become calm. At other times, it is not so easy. But to stick with the practice and to not take it too serious, is what is more important than the results.

            With metta dear Billy!



            • #7
              Hi Venerable,

              I find it difficult to think that the absence of sorrow is a sign of enlightenment. Personally I see the absence more as a sign of dettachment, which in my view is rather unhealthy and not living a full human life. I can't believe that enlightenment is when you dont have sorrow at the death of ones own Mother. My feeling is that enlightenmnt or awakening is more about being awake to these various sensations and human feelings such as sorrow. This being awake to them and knowing that they are present, can free us from unconscious reactions which could create further suffering, for ourselves and others.
              So I tend to view awakening or enlightenmt as not the absence of these feelings, like sorrow, but being awake to their presence at any given time and not identifying with them or feeding them. Just knowing them and allowing them to do what they do..... come and go :-)
              I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this?

              Mega Metta


              • #8
                Hi dear Eamonn,

                A person who is fully enlightened sees things in a totally different way than other people. They do not just see emotions differently, they see everything differently; the whole of life. When the mother of an enlightened being dies, they realize that it had to be that way. Because a mother is born, she has to die. So somebody who is enlightened will not have any sorrow, because he or she was prepared for death, emotionally.

                There is no denying that everybody will die. That is simply nature. But still, people often grief and cry and sorrow. Why? They did not realize the way things are, that people die, and that they can die at any time. It may not seem big an insight (and it is of course only part of the insight of an enlightened one) but it makes all the difference between falling into sorrow or not.

                Sometimes people seem to think there is something beautiful in sorrow and grief over a loved one's death. Perhaps that is why some people dwell in it for so long... But what is beautiful about that? Is it beautiful to suffer over something that is natural? I don't agree. Wouldn't it be beautiful if people could just die and we could be at peace with that? Just accept it the way it is? That is much wiser, because we wouldn't suffer! And enlightened people would indeed see it in that way fully. It's not that they don't like to grieve, it's that they simply can't. There is no choice if you see things as they are.

                Does this help?

                Ultra Mega Metta!!



                • #9
                  Venerable. _/\_

                  I love this sutta which illustrates and underlines your point about how the way unenlightened being see things is totally different to the way the arahants see things.




                  • #10
                    Dear Venerable Sunyo,

                    Thanks very much for your reply and view on this. I still must admit that I cant agree with the concept, that because a person has some in depth understanding that death is a natural aspect of life, that when a dearly loved one dies, the emotional effect will be absent, and that this is a good thing and something to strive for. To me, this is very much my point, that this lack of emotion is actually detachment from reality and in away avoiding pain.

                    To me pleasure and pain are two sides of the one coin that we experience in life. Being attached to these is a problem and to be dettached from these is a problem. However, being non-atatched is the way. So that is to allow things to be the way they are, allowing to feel things and experience emotions, but knowing they too will pass :-)

                    When my Mum and Dad died, it wasnt a suprise to me. They both became very, very unwell and death was iminent and a relief for them. It was also a relief for me. But this didnt mean I wasnt sad for what I lost. I lost there presence in my life as my parents, I lost there support and their humour amongst many other things. So I wasn't sad because i was shocked that they had died. But I was sad at my loss and to me this is a completely natural human response.

                    However, with Dhamma practice, with awareness and mindfulness, with acceptance, with constant enquiry, I/we can allow the grief and sorrow to pass naturally in time and not become anything greater than it should be :-) In my view and awakened being can do this with ease and grace and it is this that makes them awakened. For me, I still struggled .............. but not as much as I would have without a path :-)

                    Mega Metta for your time Venerable!



                    • #11
                      Hi Stuart,

                      That is a nice sutta indeed.

                      And hi dear Eamonn,

                      The knowledge of the certainty of death an enlightened one has goes quite a bit deeper than the average person's knowledge. They also don't see it as a person, a 'somebody', dying, but just as a process that occurs, where really nobody is taken away. To them it's like the setting of the sun. Who would cry or grieve over that?

                      But what you say about being able to handle emotions better is certainly something that is part of our practice before enlightenment, and a very important part indeed.

                      With kindness!



                      • #12
                        Hi again Ven Sunyo

                        I dont grieve the setting of the sun each day beacause I am 99.999999999....% sure it will rise again tomorrow and 98.99999999.....% sure I will be here again to witness it :-). However in the case of my loved ones who died, I was 100% sure that I would not see their smile radiate like the sun the next day. For this I was sad.

                        Thanks for the chat Bhante and please say hi to Ven Mudu for me. We used to work together :-)

                        Massive Metta


                        • #13
                          Hi Eamonn, you're welcome. It was a nice chat indeed.

                          I will say hi to Mudu for you.

                          Mega Metta back to you!



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