24 SEPTEMBER 2020 – THE DAILY CUSHION
The Lay Person & Four Temptations to Renounce by Ryan Burton
“There are four drains on wealth that has been gathered in this way.
Womanizing, drinking, gambling, and having bad friends, companions, and associates.
Suppose there was a large reservoir with four inlets and four drains.
And someone was to open up the drains and close off the inlets,
and the heavens don’t provide enough rain.
You’d expect that large reservoir to dwindle, not expand.
In the same way, there are four drains on wealth that has been gathered in this way.
Womanizing, drinking, gambling, and having bad friends, companions, and associates.”
INSIGHTS FROM SUTTA:
1. The drains on wealth are four- womanizing, drinking, gambling and associating with fools. It’s important to consider why these things are unwholesome, un-beneficial to a person in both the pursuit of Dhamma and wealth.Why do these specific activities drain a persons wealth and even their health? Because these activities are addictive. They belong to the realm of sensuality and are harmful in the sense that once involved it is difficult to stop.
2. The nature of these activities enhances our own defilements. Why? They promote greed and craving at extreme levels. Some people gamble their income away and are unable to provide for their own children.According to Buddhism these activities create demerit which in present or future lives can result in fruitions of negative conditions and circumstances.
3. In Dhamma there are clear distinctions on what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, on what will produce beneficial conditions and what will produce un-beneficial circumstances. What is another reasons these activities are considered drains? Things to consider- when gambling you are taking other people’s money and are profiting off a persons defilements. When womanizing if one is cheating on a spouse, they are taking away the peace of mind, and are placing emotional burdens on others. When drinking one is damaging their own body and mind and usually encouraging others to do the same, promoting states of heedlessness and stupor. When associating with fools you are draining your own time, time that could be spent doing good, and usually in cooperation with other fools you’ll engage in behaviors that can be harmful to others, taking away their peace of mind and placing burdens on them. When we give we receive. When we take from others, our lot will also be taken as well.
1. Let’s ask ourselves what contemplations are most suitable in consideration of the Sutta passage above. Because this passage is dealing with addictions related to the senses contemplations on repulsiveness and impermanence are most suitable.
2. Consider the impermanent nature of sensations and formations – pleasure, excitement, gain, gratification. None of these are lasting and especially in the context of the passage, they are fleeting.
3. Cutting attachment to the physical body through repulsiveness contemplations, for example the skeleton, is useful for these 4 drains. Womanizing and drinking gratify physical pleasure while gambling and associating with fools can be interpreted as more of a mental attachment. Skeleton meditation will help us loosen these attachments.
A very useful Sutta for the Passage
The Discourse-grouping on Feelings (Vedana-Samyutta) by Nyanaponika Mahathera
“If a monk is thus mindful and clearly comprehending, ardent, earnest and resolute, and a pleasant feeling arises in him, he knows: ‘Now a pleasant feeling has arisen in me. It is conditioned, not unconditioned. Conditioned by what? Even by this body it is conditioned. And this body, indeed, is impermanent, compounded, dependently arisen. But if this pleasant feeling that has arisen, is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen; how could such a pleasant feeling be permanent?
‘”In regard to both body and the pleasant feeling he dwells contemplating impermanence, dwells contemplating evanescence, dwells contemplating detachment, dwells contemplating cessation, dwells contemplating relinquishment. And in him who thus dwells, the underlying tendency to lust in regard to body and pleasant feeling vanishes.
1. Before beginning this meditation start with self reflection on the drains in your life. Make the Buddhas teachings personal so we can apply them to our own condition. What and where are the drains in your life?
2. Contemplate repulsiveness through taking the skeleton as object.
3. Contemplate impermanence of feeling and emotion by observing the arising and passing of feeling and emotion. What are such states conditioned by? This is done through the application of mindfulness to vedana (feeling) and craving, sankhara (volitional formations). Notice the arising of a craving and what is conditioning that craving. Observe it’s ending and fading away.