"Bikkhus, that one can engage in sensual pleasures without sensual desires, without perceptions of sensual desire, without thoughts of sensual desire - that is impossible." Oh, wow, here we go again. Paragraph 9 sums up what I find to be the thorniest part of the Theravadan path. On my first retreat, Ayya Khema gave a discourse on the Five Hindrances. I recognized immediately that sensual desire was "my" hindrance.

I've watched and examined my sensual desire now for eleven years. I've seen how it definitely is a source of Dukkha. I've watched my attitude towards it change. I've even seen the fervor, with which I pursue sensual pleasure, wain - slightly. But in no way have I ever come close to wanting to give up sensual pleasure, not even come close to wanting to give up the pursuit of sensual pleasure. I don't really mind that no pleasure is lastingly satisfying. I actually enjoy pursuing sensual pleasure.

I have come to appreciate and enjoy more fully the sensual pleasures that do come my way. I can definitely be much more in the moment than ever before. The same pleasure of a decade ago in now more pleasurable. And when a pleasure goes, it's much less of a big deal than it used to be. I no longer think that sense pleasures are the ultimate happiness. (Actually I learned that on Ko Samui in Thailand in 1980, when for three weeks, every sense pleasure I could imagine was satisfied - and none of these pleasures was ultimately satisfying) But the pursuit of sensual pleasure still takes up a lot on my energy.

What I want is some way to channel this pleasure seeking and pleasure enjoying energy into spiritual growth. The Tantrics claim to have ways to do this. And I even have an intellectual understanding of what they are talking about. I've managed to learn from my studies in Tantric Buddhist and apply the teachings in a limited way. But I want something more systematic. I want something as powerful as the Jhanas, I want something as clearly outlined as the Sweeping, I want a Sangha that supports me in these types of practices.

So this is my rant about sensual pleasure. But maybe all I really want to do is grasp the snake by the tail and not get bitten.

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