Editor's Foreword

Kalama Sutta, Help Us!

Two Kinds of Language

Looking Within

Happiness & Hunger

The Dhamma-Truth of Samatha-Vipassana
For The Nuclear Age

About Author

About Translator







Lecture to foreign meditators at Suan Mokkhabalarama
7 May 1986
Translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu


Now we'll observe further that the happiness based in the satisfaction of hunger is hopeless and can never be satisfied. The many things which arouse hunger are always changing. Whatever satisfies hunger changes, making that satisfaction fleeting and illusory, and so hunger returns. Hunger itself changes and, hence, can never be satisfied. This situation is eternal. The world today is stuck in this happiness which comes with fulfilling desires. The modern world is trapped in this endless problem.

Imagine, if you can, that you are the sole owner of the world, of the universe, of the entire cosmos. Now that you're the owner of everything, does hunger stop? Can it stop? Would you please examine this carefully with and in your own mind. If you were to get everything that you could possibly desire, to the point that you owned the whole world, would your hunger cease? Or would you hunger for a second universe? Would you want a third?

Consider the fact that hunger never ends by our attempts to satisfy it. In spite of this, the world today continues to develop in education and evolution that seeks merely to produce things which are more lovely and satisfying. Modern technology and science and slaves of hunger. Our world is falling into this deep hole of endlessly producing increasingly seductive things to try to satisfy hunger. But where are you going to find happiness in such a world?

I'd like to make some comparisons to illustrate how the worldly happiness of common sentient beings advances from phase to successive phase. The new-born infant is happy when it is cuddled in its mother's arms and sucks milk from her breast. This satisfies the infant until it grows a little older, a little bigger. Then the mother's arms and breast aren't enough. It learns about other foods and delights. Now its happiness depends on ice cream, candy, and junk food, on playing little games and running around the house. Then it grows older and those games don't satisfy the child any more. It wants to play football or play with dolls. These two are outgrown eventually and the teenager's interestes and happiness revolve around sex. The previous kinds of satisfaction are of no more interest. When they become young men and women, don't expect them to be satisfied with the old types of happiness. Now, all they think about is sex and dates. Finally, the human being marries, becomes a wife or husband, and has hopes and wishes tied up in a house, money, and possessions. There's no way they can be satisfied with childish happiness (unless they haven't really grown up). The human being changes from stage to stage, and happiness also changes from stage to stage. It is continuous and endless. Hunger develops from stage to stage until death. After that, many believe, there is rebirth as a deva (celestial being); and still there's hunger, heavenly hunger for the happiness of devas. It never stops. Even in heaven with the gods or in the kingdom of God, should such things exist, hunger doesn't stop. In Buddhism these all are considered to be examples of worldly happiness that only deceives and confuses.


I'd like to ask if in the Kingdom of God, or in whatever place God is, whether according to the scriptures of Christianity or any other religion, when we're with God can hunger and desire stop? If the Kingdom of God is the end of hunger and craving, then it's the same thing as Buddhism teaches: nibbana, or the happiness that is beyond the world because hunger has ended. But if we understand the Kingdom of God differently, if it is a place where we still hunger, then Buddhism isn't interested. Endless desire for better and better things to take as one's own is not the goal of Buddhism. Buddhism takes the fork in the road that leads beyond the world.

As for this thing we call "the world," in the Buddhist description it is divided into many levels, realms, or wanderings. There's the common human world, with which we're most familiar, and its human types of sukha. Above this are the various heavenly realms where the devas supposedly live. First, there are the sensual wanderings, the kamavacara, of those who have sexual desires. These are supposed to be "good," at least better than the human realm. Next, there are the Brahma wanderings, of which there are two categories: those dependent on form (matter) and those independent of form. These are better than the normal realms of existence, but they aren't the end of hunger. There is no more sensual hunger in the rupavacara, the fine-material wanderings, but the "beings" there still hunger after material existence. The "beings" of arupavacara, the non-material wanderings, are hungry as well. They hunger for non-material things rather than material. On each of these worldly levels hunger persists. The wants of the self don't stop. There are always things which the self wants. These highly refined states of happiness utterly fail to transcend the world. Even the highest Brahma realm is caught within the world, trapped below the power and influence of desire.

How are we going to finish hunger? We must turn around and destroy it. We don't need hunger. We must take this other path where there is no hunger. The essence of this path is the absence of the feeling of self, of "I" and "mine." This point is very profound. How much knowledge must we have, how much must we see, in order to stop this illusion of self?

It is necessary to realize this connection between the end of hunger and the cessation of the self illusion. In worldly situations there is always a self or "I" who hungers and strives to satisfy that hunger. Even if this self is on the highest heavenly level where hunger is only for the most refined things, nonetheless, there's a hungry self trying to get. Hunger persists as this self seeks to acquire things for itself without ever truly succeeding. By examining the many levels of getting and of happiness, we see that hunger is hopeless. Why? Because "self" is hopeless. 


Happiness & Hunger 1 Happiness & Hunger 3


Extract from "Keys to Natural Truth" - Buddhadasa Bhikkhu ,
translated by Santikaro Bhikkhu, Published and distributed by Mental Health Publishing, 14/349-350 M.10, Rama II Road, Bangmod, Bangkok,Thailand
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