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When I picked up a version of the Dhammapada (Parallax Press) and read through I came across an interesting verse in this specific book it was Chapter 24: Craving. Forgive me for not knowing the verses, I'm new to the text.

The verse says:

A man will be swept along
By the thirty-six streams of sensual pleasure,
Borne on the strong currents
Of his craving toward tempting objects.

What are the 'thirty-six' streams of sensual pleasure? Is it some arbitrary enumeration, or is there some further writings detailing the 'thirty-six' streams of sensual pleasure?

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  • You may wonder how "craving verbalizations" in the answer below became "streams of sensual pleasure" in the Dhammapada ... IMO it's worth having more than one translation of the Dhp. at hand : one may be more poetic while another may be more detailed and formal. I keep coming back to this one (Ananda Maitreya - IMO it's a beautiful book) but it's just a window on the text, another may shed a different light on the same verse. Thomas Byrom is pretty good too. – user_1818839 Mar 22 at 16:47
  • @ruben2020 Thank you for the edit. – Kevin Mar 22 at 16:57
  • @Brian Drummond Thank you, I will have to check that out. – Kevin Mar 22 at 16:58
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"Monks, I will teach you craving: the ensnarer that has flowed along, spread out, and caught hold, with which this world is smothered & enveloped like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, & bad destinations. Listen well, and I will speak."

"Yes, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said: "And which craving is the ensnarer that has flowed along, spread out, and caught hold, with which this world is smothered & enveloped like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, & bad destinations? These 18 craving-verbalizations[1] dependent on what is internal and 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external.

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal? There being 'I am,' there comes to be 'I am here,' there comes to be 'I am like this' ... 'I am otherwise' ... 'I am bad' ... 'I am good' ... 'I might be' ... 'I might be here' ... 'I might be like this' ... 'I might be otherwise' ... 'May I be' ... 'May I be here' ... 'May I be like this' ... 'May I be otherwise' ... 'I will be' ... 'I will be here' ... 'I will be like this' ... 'I will be otherwise.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal.

"And which are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external? There being 'I am because of this (or: by means of this),' there comes to be 'I am here because of this,' there comes to be 'I am like this because of this' ... 'I am otherwise because of this' ... 'I am bad because of this' ... 'I am good because of this' ... 'I might be because of this' ... 'I might be here because of this' ... 'I might be like this because of this' ... 'I might be otherwise because of this' ... 'May I be because of this' ... 'May I be here because of this' ... 'May I be like this because of this' ... 'May I be otherwise because of this' ... 'I will be because of this' ... 'I will be here because of this' ... 'I will be like this because of this' ... 'I will be otherwise because of this.' These are the 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external.

"Thus there are 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is internal and 18 craving-verbalizations dependent on what is external. These are called the 36 craving-verbalizations. Thus, with 36 craving-verbalizations of this sort in the past, 36 in the future, and 36 in the present, there are 108 craving-verbalizations. "This, monks is craving the ensnarer that has flowed along, spread out, and caught hold, with which this world is smothered & enveloped like a tangled skein, a knotted ball of string, like matted rushes and reeds, and does not go beyond transmigration, beyond the planes of deprivation, woe, & bad destinations." https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.199.than.html

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    Good answer,+1. – user19910 Mar 22 at 13:33
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    @Buddhism Thank you! – Kevin Mar 22 at 16:58

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