I have a English cocker spaniel named Lance. Lance loves eggs, mango, banana and papaya. As a puppy we have trained him not to beg for food. After some time we made a mistake by giving him small treats off the table when we were having meals. Now he has the habit of begging for small treats when we are eating. In the past few weeks I was determined not to give any food off the table but when he looks at me with those large beautiful brown eyes I just melt and give in.
This morning I was having eggs for breakfast. Lance as usual lost interest in his dog food and was begging for a piece of egg. Today, I somehow was determined not to give anything. He kept begging and begging..... and to my surprise when I finished eating he quietly got up and went away to his own food.
Then I thought for a moment.... well, our senses can act like an "untrained dog." The six senses (see the previous post below) keep asking for more and more of your favorite things. It may be reasonable to fulfill your bodies "needs" but not everything that the body "wants." I think it is fair to treat yourself once in a while but if you overindulge in "sensory foods" there may not be an end to the demands of our senses. Just like an untrained dog they will not leave you alone.
So how do we train our senses? The Buddha called this method "the sensory restrains"(Chappana Sutta -The Six Animals). First you may have to develop good moral values and live a simple life style. You may have already seen some Buddhist monks who lead such simple lifestyles. Some have only two pairs of robes, one bowl and a simple hut to sleep in. They may eat only one or two meals a day. This may be difficult for us as lay people, but we can try living a simple life enjoying whatever we have and not clinging and craving for more. In other words being content and happy with what ever we have. If you want to develop further sensory restrains you can start practicing mindfulness meditation.
The practice of Vipassana meditation will lead you to deeply understand this six fold senses. This will finally lead you to develop wisdom with complete sense restrains. It is important to realize that this training of sense restrain comes through deep understanding of the six senses and equanimity rather than aversion. This training will not only make you fully aware of how these six sense bases work together but also completely eliminates the craving which arises in them. This is called "Nirvana," the complete freedom from suffering, which can be achieved in this very life. This craving is the primary factor responsible to keep us in this repeated cycles of birth, old age, sickness and death called the " Samsara." If you want to learn more of how these six sense bases work together," there is a good description of this in Salayatana-vibhanga Sutta.
Sutta on sensory restrains: