How To Catch A Snake
In the scriptures on Knowing The Better Way To Catch A Snake, a monk named Arittha said that the Buddha taught that sense pleasures are not an obstacle to the practice. Hearing that, the Buddha summoned Arittha and, in the presence of many monks, asked, Arittha,"Is it true you have been saying that I teach that sense pleasures are not an obstacle to the practice?"
Arittha replied,"Yes, I do believe that according to the spirit of your teachings, sense pleasures are not an obstacle to the practice."
When you read any scripture, you should know the context of the scripture as well as the whole teaching of the Buddha, so you can understand what really happened. The Buddha discovered that asceticism is not helpful, to get enlightened, you have to take care of your body, so he accepted rice, milk and other offerings of food from the villagers of Uruvela.
The Buddha was a happy person, quite capable of enjoying a beautiful morning or a glass of clear water. One time, standing on Vulture Peak with Ananda, he pointed to the rice fields below and said,"Ananda, are not these fields beautiful when the rice is ripe? Let us design the robes of the monks on this pattern." Another time, when passing by the town of Vaishali, he said,"Ananda, how beautiful Vaishali is." When King Mahanama invited the Buddha and his monks for a meal, the Buddha made this remark,"Mahanama offered us the best kind of food."
It is safe to enjoy what is around you and within you as long as you are aware of its nature of impermanence. When you are thirsty, there is nothing wrong in enjoying a glass of water. In fact, to truly enjoy it, you have to dwell in the present moment.
When a flower dies, we do not cry. We know it is impermanent. If we practice awareness of the nature of impermanence, we will suffer less and enjoy life more. If we know things are impermanent, we will cherish them in the present moment. We know that our loved ones are of impermanent nature, so we try our best to make them happy now. Impermanence is not negative. Some Buddhists think we should not enjoy anything, because everything is impermanent. They think that emancipation is to get rid of everything and not enjoy anything. But when we offer flowers to Buddha, sure the Buddha sees the beauty of flowers and deeply appreciates them.
In the Snake scripture, the Buddha also tells us that the Dharma is a raft we can use to cross the river and get to the other shore. But after we have crossed the river, if we continue to carry the raft on our shoulders, that would be foolish." The raft is not the shore." He said:-"Monks, I have told you many times the importance of knowing when it is time to let go a raft and not hold onto it unnecessarily."