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Weaknesses and restraint

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran
edited March 23 in Buddhism Today

I think I have been lucky. When I was young there was never much money, and so I got into the habit of only buying what I needed. This meant that I never really paid attention to what I desired, and so even in wealthier times I was modest in what I would buy. Pretty much the only things I spent money on were books, DVDs and technology. My mother used to call me a cyber monk.

Living a humble life in this way shields you from your desires and aversions, it keeps them small without repressing them. It was that in combination with the old saying, “take everything in moderation”. This gets you into the habit of applying a counter-pressure to desire, and taking the things that you enjoy in small quantities, without foregoing them entirely. You allow yourself to enjoy, but only once in a while.

I find myself doing the same thing with beer: once every month or two I will buy a bottle of Belgian Trappist beer, and just sit back and enjoy it with a few nuts on a quiet afternoon. I find this allows me to savour the enjoyment. But I don’t look forward to these things, that would be fuelling craving, I just buy them on impulse once it’s been a month or so since the last time. I don’t really keep track rigorously.

Some things I don’t keep in the house, like “borrelnootjes” or paprika crisps, because I know I won’t be able to restrain myself and will just end up eating an entire bag of the things. I’ve found it best to just not buy certain things which I know i have a weakness for.

Restraint is a theme you often come across in the sutras (Aparihani Sutra or Bhikkhuvagga) with respect to the senses or about the monks’ heedfulness, but I think it is important to lay people as well. I find it something that I sometimes struggle with to keep it in mind, especially with food items that I am fond of, like a salmon mousse or certain potatoe dishes. But often I remind myself of it, and then I give up a few more places where maybe I had been eating over-generous portions.



  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Good post from Jeroen. <3 The best restraint for me is probably a straitjacket :mrgreen:

    I understand the beer thing. Best beer I ever had was a trappist beer in a clay container. Outstanding. One drink once a month, is plenty for me too, mostly less.

    Manageable restraint/asceticism is far better than extreme behaviour. Unless you are a Jain monk or Buddhist Nun or sleep deprived Sufi.

    It is amazing how much voluntary simplicity proportionally increases ones Sukha.

  • JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter Netherlands Veteran

    You got it, @lobster — “voluntary simplicity” is very much what I am talking about.

    It is like the Zen aesthetic, or the Quaker style of furniture.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it asceticism. Just understated good taste, in all things.

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think The liminal space Veteran
    edited March 23

    I've found giving myself a cheat day makes practicing restraint and positive habits during the rest of the week much easier. I have some issues with cheating turning into binging, but practicing restraint during the week seems to have lessened my cravings overall.

    In regards to money, I too consider myself fortunate. I grew up in a family with savers and wise spenders, never ran the AC, made homemade popsicles with kool aid, never bought new cars or the latest gadgets, etc. But spent money on maintaining and improving the home, doing a lot of the work themselves, or on cheap family trips and get togethers that brought us together. When I got a job as a teenager, a couple of my other friends would go out and spend all their paychecks as soon as they got them. I'd only buy an occasional book or movie ticket. They'd wonder how I always seemed to have money, like I was super rich.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    It is like the Zen aesthetic, or the Quaker style of furniture.

    Exactly so.

    Asceticism has degrees. I do push it a little further but am not a 'dopamine through pain' junky, Sado masochistic meditations are a little too kinky for me. Though I do occasionally give myself a good slapping, if a wet halibut is not available ...

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