The greatest gift is the
gift of the teachings
 
Dharma Talks Access for Retreatants at Common Ground Meditation Center

Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality

We are constantly touched by sense experience and usually react in predictable ways by grasping what is perceived as pleasant, ignoring what is seen as neutral, and being averse to what appears to be unpleasant. The Buddha emphasized the limitations of sense experience as a place for lasting happiness. In this course we will carefully examine our actual experience of gratification, the actual danger that arises with attachment to sense experience, and the actual escape from these dangers through the realization of the heart free from grasping. (Note: week 2 was not recorded)
2016-09-19 (52 days) Common Ground Meditation Center

  
2016-09-19 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 1 1:26:44
Mark Nunberg
This first part of the course is emphasizing the actual experience of sense gratification. In other words, we are learning how to be interested, intimate and discerning as the sensitive heart connects with the reality of this world of sensuality. Are we willing to meet this sense world honestly, with real interest in order to better understand the experience of gratification? Here are some reflections for week two in preparation for small group discussions: What have you learned in specifically observing, being intimate with experiences of gratification of sense experience. How have you experienced happiness in the past? How much of this happiness has been related to the gratification of desire? Reflect on the experiences of gratification and disappointment. What is the ongoing effect of these past successes and failures on your life? Honestly map out those places in your life where you see enchantment with sense experience. For example, desires that seem to promise real lasting happiness for oneself. Below are Study Materials for Week 1 and Week 2:
Attached Files:
  • Dhamma - A Gradual Training by Access to Insight (Link)
  • Buddha's discourse (sutta MN 13) The Great Mass of Stress (Google Doc)
  • Buddhist Sexual Ethics by Winton Higgins with a Rejoinder by Ajahn Brahmavamso, Ajahn Nanadhammo, (Google Doc)
  • Worldly Happiness / Buddhist Happiness: What the Buddha really taught by Mu Soeng, Parabola (Google Doc)
  • Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow (The Dart), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Google Doc)
2016-10-03 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 3 1:27:31
Mark Nunberg
After spending the first several weeks looking more closely at the experience of gratification of sense experiences, starting with week 3 we will bring into view a more honest reflection on the drawbacks and limitations of sense experience. Below are study materials for Week 3:
Attached Files:
  • Drawbacks (The Buddha's teachings on the drawbacks of sensuality), Translated by Thanissaro Bikkhu (Google Doc)
  • Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow (The Dart), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Google Doc)
  • Five Remembrances (Google Doc)
  • Placeholder (File)
2016-10-10 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 4 56:14
Mark Nunberg
Please take this week to more clearly discern the gratification & allure of sense experience and the drawbacks & limitations of sense experience. Remember, the practice is to collect honest data. The purification of view that the mind has toward sensuality does happen because we want to shift our view, rather, it happens because the data that the mind collects through being mindful overwhelms older views/beliefs about sensuality and allows for a newer, more refined, wiser view to arise in its place. One theme you might use for your small group sharing is, what if any data has this mind or heart, collected in the recent past that demonstrates the limitations and drawbacks of sense experience? Some Additional Readings for Week 4:
Attached Files:
  • Placeholder (File)
  • Mind Like Fire Unbound Chapter III 'Forty cartloads of timber.' by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Link)
  • What You Take Home With You by Ajahn Sucitto (Google Doc)
2016-10-17 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 5 1:28:22
Mark Nunberg
We have now completed half of our course examining our experience of sensuality. As we have begun to reflect on the limitation of sense experience we want to specifically look into the limitations of what we might consider wholesome experience. What danger, if any, is associated with wholesome experiences? At the end of MN 13, The Discourse on the Great Mass of Stress the Buddha uses the example of meditative peace as a sense experience with the allure of gratification, with drawbacks and with an escape. So if even the deepest states of meditative peace have drawbacks what about the pleasant wholesome states that our minds are still dependent on? Are these experiences a set up for disappointment, stress and suffering? What has our experience taught us? Let's notice the ephemeral quality of our wholesome moments. Are they stable enough to provide lasting satisfaction?
2016-10-25 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 6 63:17
Mark Nunberg
Tonight we will finish our discussion regarding the drawbacks and limitations of sensual experience. Please be prepared to share with your small group your own direct experience how the habits of fear, attachment, craving... create a sense of weight and suffering around our sense experiences. We'll spend the last two weeks looking at the "Escape" from the stress related to sense experience. Here is a good article to read written by a senior Buddhist nun in the Western Ajahn Chah lineage, Sister Siripann
Attached Files:
  • Renunciation: The Highest Happiness by Sister Siripanna (Google Doc)
2016-10-31 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 7 1:24:27
Mark Nunberg
We meet tonight for week seven and begin a more direct investigation into the escape from the oppressiveness of our attachment to sense desire that arise in this world of sensuality. Here is a recent article that you might find useful:
Attached Files:
  • I used to Be a Human Being by Andrew Sullivan (Link)
2016-11-07 Buddhist Studies Course - Understanding Sensuality - Week 8 63:47
Mark Nunberg
Attached Files:
  • Contrary to Popular Opinion by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (PDF)
Creative Commons License