A Deva – Laity of another kind – once asked a Bhikku, “O Monk, why don’t you enjoy sensual pleasures?”, and the Monk replied:
”I don't know my time. My time is hidden. It can't be seen.
That's why, not having enjoyed, I go for alms: Don't let my time pass me by.
Samiddhi Sutta: About Samiddhi - SN 1.20
This Sutta is a good example of pointing out the difficulties of teaching more advanced Dhamma to a normal being who is obsessed with sensual pleasures. The noble ones have eradicated sensual desires, and are entirely free of sensual desires. That is why a disciple would recollect the qualities of the Noble Ones from time to time. Then the mind would not get afflicted with sensual desire, with hatred or with delusion. In recollecting such, the mind becomes unshaken towards the Triple Gem. With perfect confidence in the Blessed One, inspiration is gained from the truth of the Dhamma. Gladness arises in the noble disciple. With gladness towards the Dhamma, rapture and joy are born. With joy, the body becomes tranquil. With a tranquil body, the noble disciple feels pleasure. With pleasure, the mind becomes concentrated.
Once there was a dissatisfied young Bhikkhu. He was not yet part of the Sangha, as he has not yet attained Sotapatti Fruition. The Buddha uttered the following Dhammapada (186-187) to this young bhikkhu who was unhappy with his life:
Not by a shower of coins can sensual desires be satiated; sensual desires give little pleasure and are fraught with evil consequences (dukkha). Knowing this, the wise man, who is the disciple of the Buddha, does not find delight even in the pleasures of the devas, but rejoices in the cessation of craving (i.e., Nibbana).
When the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta was explained for the first time there were no Bhikkus, but Devas – Laity of another kind – who were present. In that Buddha explained to those present of the two extremes thus:
The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldliness, ignoble, unbeneficial, and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial.
Then in the Mahadukkhakkhanda Sutta, Buddha explain about our distorted perception of the world. Is it possible for a wise person to turn away from the lures of sensuality, once we are shown the flows of the worldly life?
In the Dānupatti Sutta – AN.6, Buddha shows how helpful it is to have deeds full of merits when one goes to a birth as a result of one’s own Kamma.
“Dear Monks, let’s say someone donates things like foods, drinks, cloths, seats, flowers, scents, and houses to monks (ones who attempt to free from defilements). He likes to get things that he donates as a result of that good deed. He heard something like this: ‘Deities who live in the divine world called Chāthummahārājika have long lifespans. They have great pleasures.’ Then he feels this way: ‘I would also like to get a birth in Chāthummahārājika divine world after my death here.’ He then focuses his mind on to that expectation. He develops that mind. Because he focused his mind to this this crude sensual world again, his mind will take him to a birth in the Chāthummahārājika divine world after his death. Even this kind of birth is only for a virtuous person and not for an impure person. Dear Monks, the virtuous person’s hope will be fulfilled because of his pureness.”
In Theragatha - Verses of the Elder Monks 16.4, Ven. Ratthapala explains why he's not in the least bit tempted to return to the lay life. The verses here fall into three sections, with the first two relating to Raṭṭhapāla’s story as told in MN 82. In the first, Raṭṭhapāla is addressing his father after the latter had tried to use wealth and Raṭṭhapāla’s former wives to lure Ratthapala into disrobing. In the second section, Raṭṭhapāla is talking to King Koravya, who had asked him why he had ordained when he was still young and healthy, and had suffered no loss of relatives or wealth.
The Way to end all suffering is called the Majjima Patipada – Way to Relinquish Attachments to this World -
because it avoids the two extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification. Then only the mind has the clarity and strength to meditate deeply and discover the Truth. This Majjima Patipada consists of the diligent cultivation of Virtue, Meditation and Wisdom, which is explained in more detail as the Noble Eightfold Path.
In the Maha Chattarisaka Sutta (Discourse on the Great Forty) discusses two eightfold paths: A mundane path that leads to rebirth in the “good realms” (at or above the human realm) and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to Nibbana. Thus majjima patipada is “middle path” in the conventional sense; and it is a good first step. But the lokottara meaning is much different, and this sutta lays out the basic structure of how to explain the deeper meanings. Throughout his 45 years of his ministry, Buddha explained the details in various ways.
One lokottara meaning of majjima patipada is to “avoid being intoxicated by sense pleasures”. It is a gradual process: High levels of intoxication is removed via removing micca ditthi when attaining the Sotapanna stage. After that, lower and lower intoxication levels removed as one gains more wisdom in steps. It means “voluntarily giving up” and not to give up attachments to this world by sheer will or force. The mind will not give up things that it considers pleasurable, unless there is a good reason. Those reasons are what Buddha Dhamma is all about. One becomes a Sotapanna by truly comprehending why it is not only unfruitful, but also dangerous to attach to things that one perceives to be pleasurable. But even a Sotapanna only has “seen” the truth of the “anicca nature” of this world.
The actual “giving up” comes next, when one slowly start “giving up” voluntarily and progress through the next two stages of Sakadagami and Anagami, and eventually gives up all attachments at the Arahant stage. Thus one does not need to worry about giving up anything until reaching the Sotapanna stage. Giving up happens automatically when one realizes the true nature of this world.