Home » Excerpts » Better Without An Itch Than To Scratch One

If you scratch an itch, it feel good,
but it feels even better not to have an itch at all.
So too, one is happy in obtaining worldly desires,
but there is greater happiness in having no desires at all.

– Precious Garland Of Advice To A King (Verse 169)
Arya Nagarjuna

Eczema is a skin disease that makes you itch terribly. While scratching it provides some small pleasure, people who are free of eczema altogether are happier. Similarly, those who drink and use drugs derive some modicum of pleasure from them, but people who don’t take these are happier. They have more comfort in their body, more peace of mind, and are not troubled by the nagging desire to get high.

Ordinary people think their attachment and desire for others’ attractive bodies is happiness and consider sexual intercourse to be the greatest pleasure. While they may experience some slight happiness from it, it is not ultimate happiness. If it were genuinely fulfilling, people would not have to have it again and again. In fact, there is even more happiness in not having sexual desire – those who are completely free of attachment… have the most happiness.

Practical Ethics And Profound Emptiness:
A Commentary On Nagarjuna’s Precious Garland
Khensur Jampa Tegchok (Edited By Thubten Chodron)

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