On Quenching Thirst & Soothing Itches

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Desire that is pure arises only
for true spiritual progress.
Desire that is impure arises only
for straying from it.

Bliss that is pure arises only
from true spiritual practice.
Bliss that is impure arises only
from craving for it.

— Stonepeace | Get Books

The nature of sense pleasures in like that of saltwater:
the more we drink, the more our thirst increases.
To abandon the objects toward which desire arises
is a practice of the Bodhisattva. [Practice #21]

This refers to the objects of desire such as form, sound, smell, taste and touch. However much we enjoy the pleasures of these objects of desire, it is as if drinking salty water, which only increases our longing for more water. Likewise, indulging in the pleasures of desire only serves to increase passion. For instance, it seems that sexual intercourse gives pleasure temporarily but leads to dissatisfaction in the long run. It’s like an itch skin disease which we scratch to bring relief and pleasure. This works for a while, but then we have to go on scratching, until the skin has open wounds and is bleeding. As it says in the ‘Precious Garland’:

Scratching itchy skin which is diseased brings pleasure,
But it’s more pleasurable not to have the skin disease.
Similarly, mundane people gain pleasure from desire,
But it’s more pleasurable to be free from desire.

There’s no lasting satisfaction at all in the gratification of desires. However much we enjoy them at the time, they will increase our clinging. It is the practice of a Bodhisattva to reflect on the disadvantages of the qualities of desire and the objects which evoke desire in us and then repeatedly abandon these objects.

The Thirty-Seven Practices Of A Bodhisattva:
Commentary By His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama

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