I realized that, when I meet new people and especially people I have a romantic interest in, to value and idealize them disproportionately. This seems very ingrained in my personality. Here, cemetery contemplation seem less pertinent as its novelty rather than lust.

What does Buddhism have to say about such novelty? What are the potential ways to reduce it or alter one's perspective about it?

3 Answers 3


From AN4.163 we have:

It’s when a mendicant meditates observing the ugliness of the body, perceives the repulsiveness of food, perceives dissatisfaction with the whole world, observes the impermanence of all conditions

Paradoxically, observing ugliness is a great antidote for the seduction of attractive. The perception of ugliness develops equanimity. To see this yourself, simply look at any pair of people. Invariable, one will attract your eye and one will not. Now rapidly look at each one in turn, switching to the other when any feeling (good or bad) arises. As you do this, also acknowledge that, "This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self."

What happens as you do this is that your mind gets exhausted trying to make coherent sense of it all and collapses eventually into equanimity. Be careful when doing this with real people because nobody likes being stared at. However, you can practice this with any movie or video that you can stop mid-play. Simply scan back and forth repeatedly until equanimity returns. When you do this, the scene will always be equanimous to you in the future. Eventually you will be able to do this in real time without bothering others.

The nice thing about dealing with others in equanimity is that you will earn trust and friendship. Out of those friendships, deeper connections will naturally evolve. And those connections will always enrich your life.


Firstly, if you have romantic interest in a person, then most likely sexual lust is in it too. So, the contemplation on unattractiveness could work here. Too much of it may result in depression. The antidote for this kind of depression is given in Vesali Sutta.

Secondly, you have to remember that nothing is permanent. The same person who was a baby, and then a child, then a teenager, is now an attractive adult in front of you, with what seems to be an attractive personality. The same person can change and become aged or ugly or diseased, or change to have an irritating personality the closer you get to them.

All things in the world are not as they appear to be. Some people romanticize the monastic life, but you can find that it is not as it appears to be, in the book "The Broken Buddha" by S. Dhammika.

The following excerpt from Therigatha 14.1 about a nun who was pursued by a man, is interesting for this context:

"What wrong have I done you
that you stand in my way?
It's not proper, my friend,
that a man should touch
a woman gone forth.
I respect the Master's message,
the training pointed out by the one well-gone.
I am pure, without blemish:
Why do you stand in my way?


"You are young & not bad-looking,
what need do you have for going forth?
Throw off your ochre robe —
Come, let's delight in the flowering forest.


"What do you assume of any essence,
here in this cemetery grower, filled with corpses,
this body destined to break up?
What do you see when you look at me,
you who are out of your mind?"

"Your eyes are like those of a fawn,
like those of a nymph in the mountains.
Seeing your eyes,
my sensual delight grows all the more.
Like tips they are, of blue lotuses,
in your golden face — spotless:
Seeing your eyes,
my sensual delight grows all the more.


Like a mural you've seen,
painted on a wall,
smeared with yellow orpiment,
there your vision has been distorted,
meaningless your perception of a human being.
Like an evaporated mirage,
like a tree of gold in a dream,
like a magic show in the midst of a crowd —
you run blind after what is unreal.
Resembling a ball of sealing wax,
set in a hollow,
with a bubble in the middle & bathed with tears,
eye secretions are born there too:
The parts of the eye are rolled all
together in various ways."

Plucking out her lovely eye,
with mind unattached
she felt no regret.

"Here, take this eye. It's yours."

Straightaway she gave it to him.
Straightaway his passion faded right there,
and he begged her forgiveness.


Your question suggests an attachment to the notion of persons, significantly the notion of your own ego-self.

While there are various flavours of Buddhism, at least most of them proclaim the illusory nature of an ego-entity, a personality, a being, or a separated individuality.

Source: The Diamond Sutra

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