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We know that because of impermanence, that nothing is worth clinging to. But did the Buddha say any words on why we cannot swap one impermanent source of satisfaction for another, and continue doing so?

For example, one might take drug A to induce euphoria, then when drug A wears off, replace it by drug B, and so on.

  • Even prescription drugs tend to lead to increased craving for more, and for this reason, even they are unreliable. But don't know if this is purely a mental phenomena, not unique to only drugs, and the same would be true for all objects of desire. – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 3:46
  • driven by endless greed, one would inevitably want for what cannot be given. – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 5:36
  • To put it simply: because "suffering" dukkha does not necessarily arise in the aspect of pleasant feeling. There is suffering in the aspect of pleasant feelings. It is called 'suffering of change' or 'contaminated happiness'. – Tenzin Dorje Jul 19 '18 at 8:09
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"Why we cannot swap one impermanent source of satisfaction for another, and continue doing so?"

The act of swapping one impermanent source for another... is also subject to impermanence. One can realize this with logic or simply look at the experience of those beings that have tried... ie., every sentient being in existence :)

Our very existence is a cause and condition for the suffering of others. The First Noble truth contains both coarse and subtle understandings of Dhukka. The most subtle is what is called the Sankhara-dukkha. This is an all pervasive unsatisfactoriness. Swapping from one impermanent source of satisfaction for another is itself unsatisfactory. To recognize this as Dhukka is wisdom.

"For example, one might take drug A to induce euphoria, then when drug A wears off, replace it by drug B, and so on."

What will that experience of it wearing off feel like? Satisfactory? What about when all the drugs run out? What will be the karma of someone acting in this manner? Look at the very real experiences of your fellow sentient beings that have tried this... do you find them satisfactory? If not, why not?

Ice cream is my favorite thing to eat. I now regard it as a form of suffering. To really understand the predicament we are in we have to see the Dhukka in those things we typically find "happiness" in. All of this, no manner how many drugs we take, is subject to aging, sickness and death. That's Dhukka.

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MN 75 gives the analogy of a leper and shows that by swapping one desire for another, we would simply be making our craving and attachments progressively worse, which is a slippery slope to deepening our suffering.

The reason for this is that sensual pleasures are impermanent, and either their future absence will cause suffering, or their future side effects will cause suffering. They can't be sustained forever. And when you swap one desire for another, craving gets deepened and the "sensual fever" burns deeper. This will result in suffering becoming deeper.

"Now suppose that there was a leper covered with sores & infections, devoured by worms, picking the scabs off the openings of his wounds with his nails, cauterizing his body over a pit of glowing embers. The more he cauterized his body over the pit of glowing embers, the more disgusting, foul-smelling, & putrid the openings of his wounds would become, and yet he would feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction because of the itchiness of his wounds. In the same way, beings not free from passion for sensual pleasures — devoured by sensual craving, burning with sensual fever — indulge in sensual pleasures. The more they indulge in sensual pleasures, the more their sensual craving increases and the more they burn with sensual fever, and yet they feel a modicum of enjoyment & satisfaction dependent on the five strings of sensuality.

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For example, one might take drug A to induce euphoria, then when drug A wears off, replace it by drug B, and so on.

The problem with replacing a sensual object with another is that over time, the body system's sensual receptacles grow numb to the old stimuli and it'd require stronger and stronger stimuli to trigger the same level of pleasurable response. An analogy is when one drinks salt water to try to quench his thirst, it only makes his thirst more severe, and s/he'll keep drinking salt water to death.

But did the Buddha say any words on why we cannot swap one impermanent source of satisfaction for another, and continue doing so?

The Buddha did say about a gradual process of replacing one gross/coarse source of satisfaction with other less coarse/more refined ones, and incrementally more and more refined ones, until a day when one's defilements are completely eradicated and one no longer craves any kind of stimuli coarse or subtle at all:

Even though a disciple of the noble ones has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, still — if he has not attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that[4] — he can be tempted by sensuality. But when he has clearly seen as it actually is with right discernment that sensuality is of much stress, much despair, & greater drawbacks, and he has attained a rapture & pleasure apart from sensuality, apart from unskillful mental qualities, or something more peaceful than that, he cannot be tempted by sensuality. ~~ MN 14 ~~

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We can not replace A by B by C by D and so on because the consumer is perishable. The euphoria which gets generated by coming together of body and drugs fails to get generated after some time as the body dies or becomes deseased. This applies to all the objects of satisfaction. For example imagine someone changing wife every year to enjoy sex. But after some time his sexual organ will fail to respond to sexual stimuli as he will become diseased or will leave his body. Therefore objects of satisfaction can not be replaced forever.

  • while the consumer is still alive, though, can he not continue to find satisfaction by finding a new drug? I suppose not, because there are only finitely many classes of drugs to induce euphoria. And finding a new drug does not guarantee that cravings for old drugs are removed. – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 4:36
  • Yes ,drugs are finite and life is also finite. End of life doesn't mean end of you. You will be reborn and you will again search for drugs. You will suffer if you do not get rid of drugs. Police will remove the drugs or you will go mad when it will not be available. Therefore avoid to depend on replacement plan. – Dheeraj Verma Jul 19 '18 at 4:42
  • and what would you say to someone who doesn't believe in rebirth (as transmigration of human life), isn't in danger of the police, nor goes mad from taking drugs? – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 4:50
  • As long as there is craving ,Rebirth is a fact and can not be denied. – Dheeraj Verma Jul 19 '18 at 4:54
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'swap one impermanent source of satisfaction for another'

Is this not exactly what we do all our lives?

did the Buddha say any words on why we cannot?

Is the first noble truth not exactly why we musn't even if we can?

There is no 'cannot' there is only awakening to folly.

  • In your own words of understanding the first noble truth, can you explain, exactly why we musn't 'swap one impermanent source of satisfaction for another' even if we can? – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 4:45
  • For a simple reason that it brings an everlasting orgasmic joy. – user13135 Jul 19 '18 at 4:48
  • Sarcasm aside, is lasting joy not possible as long as we continue to find something else that brings us joy? – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 4:54
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    @avatarKorra He he I am glad that you got the sarcasm...to tell you a scientific reason...there was an experiment done on rats where they were given a choice to stimulate their brains to get an orgasm...the rats go hooked but all of the experimental subjects died. Human brain is designed that ways. It doesnot respond to permenant happiness inducing harmones the way u are visualising it. So, no...lasting joy is not possible by changing the object of pleasure. Not even with drugs. Neurochemistry also has a say as much as psychology and biology. – user13135 Jul 19 '18 at 5:01
  • yes I think from the side of sense pleasures, laws of chemistry/physics/nature will not allow the body to find lasting satisfaction in this way. And to generalize beyond the senses to all things, it seems that at some point we will run out of options to find 'something else' to bring us joy, and at that time we'll see dukkha gain. In any mundane thing we try to find joy in, it carries either the danger of attachment, or the satisfaction doesn't last (e.g. we get bored of it). – avatar Korra Jul 19 '18 at 5:07
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MN 54 describes how sensual pleasures cannot bring satisfaction and the more than are indulged in the more they bring chronic weariness.

The more pleasures are indulged in, the more craving grows, the more the capacity to obtain pleasure from sensual pleasures diminishes.

This is why people become addicts and reach a point where their objects of addiction cease to bring pleasure and bring suffering.

Householder, suppose a dog, overcome by hunger and weakness, was waiting by a butcher’s shop. Then a skilled butcher or his apprentice would toss the dog a well hacked, clean hacked skeleton of meatless bones smeared with blood. What do you think, householder? Would that dog get rid of his hunger and weakness by gnawing such a well hacked, clean hacked skeleton of meatless bones smeared with blood?”

“No, venerable sir. Why is that? Because that was a skeleton of well hacked, clean hacked meatless bones smeared with blood. Eventually that dog would reap weariness and disappointment.”

“So too, householder, a noble disciple considers thus: ‘Sensual pleasures have been compared to a skeleton by the Blessed One; they provide much suffering and much despair, while the danger in them is great.’

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