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Why Buddha Warns Against Excessive Indulgence of the Senses

Vipassana Meditation Master Acharavadee Wongsakon

Equanimity of the mind is to maintain a neutral state of mind, unattached to either happiness or unhappiness. It doesn’t mean acting like a robot, but rather to do what you are responsible for by following moral principles. Put the best effort into doing things and don’t expect results. If you receive a compliment, perceive it as a result of your effort, and don’t get moved or attached to it as it will inflate your pride and ego. If you are blamed, recognize it, but don’t get attached to the criticism; inability to accept blame is an ego move as well.

The attachment to happiness is immensely powerful, a great pleasure, and a deep feeling of enjoyment, especially in illusions, such as appearance, scent, taste, and sound. Songs and movies are also illusions which have strong power to lure the mind to be trapped in the cycle of rebirth. The power of music has a strong attraction as it brings pleasure in the form of smooth sensations, allowing them to sink into the deeper level of the mind. The level of attachment from receiving insults 100 times is nowhere near that of listening to one’s favorite song.

Let me share my experience with you to understand the magnetic force of deep pleasure. Ten years ago, as a Vipassana layperson and meditation teacher, I went to an old beloved friend’s birthday party. Everything went well until I heard two guests singing my most favorite songs, including a famous Thai song, and ‘She’, the soundtrack from the romantic comedy movie Notting Hill. The irresistible and powerful melody, together with the crooner’s gentle voice, sank deep into my mind, and kept playing in my head all the way home. It took over ten hours of Vipassana meditation to get rid of the impurities of this deep attachment.

This kind of attachment weakens the mind, resulting in it easily succumbing to temptations, lack of mindfulness and mental strength to think, and make the right decisions. For those who spend too much time in sensory indulgences, it is difficult for them to stay focused because their mind keeps seeking pleasures from external stimuli. Therefore, a state of equanimity is out of the question.

If you are resolute to be liberated from the endless cycle of rebirth, practicing the mind to become strong enough to resist the power of attachment to intense pleasure is the crucial test you need to pass.