4:1  Sensual Pleasure

If one, longing for sensual pleasure,

achieves it, yes,

he’s enraptured at heart.

The mortal gets what he wants.

But if for that person

—longing, desiring—

the pleasures diminish,

he’s afflicted,

as if shot with an arrow.

Whoever avoids sensual desires

—as he would, with his foot,

the head of a snake—

goes beyond, mindful,

this attachment in the world.

A man who is greedy

for fields, land, gold,

cattle, horses,

servants, employees,

women, relatives,

many sensual pleasures,

is overpowered with weakness

and trampled by trouble,

for pain invades him

as water, a cracked boat.1

So one, always mindful,

should avoid sensual desires.

Letting them go,

he’d cross over the flood

like one who, having bailed out the boat,

has reached the far shore.2

vv. 766–771


1. Asaṅga, in the Yogācārabhūmi, quotes a Sanskrit version of this poem whose verses correspond to the Pali up to this point, but then ends with another verse that has no direct Pali parallel.

2. The Chinese version of the Aṭṭhaka Vagga adds, at this point, the verses on grieving and separation found in AN 5:49.

See also: MN 13–14; MN 22; MN 54; SN 1:20; SN 35:63; SN 35:115; SN 35:197; AN 6:63; Sn 2:8; Thag 5:1; Thag 7:1; Thag 10:5; Thig 5:4; Thig 13:5