2021-06-02 Kusala (8 of 10) Skillfulness
11:58PM Jun 2, 2021
To continue our discussion of kusala, this week, this week, mostly
talking about it as a skill and, and doing what's skillful. And that the Buddho use it. There's lots of analogies of craftspeople and farmers and animal trainers to make similes for metaphors for comparisons to the developing of meditation skills or skills along the path of liberation. And so because all these similes have to do with craftspeople and farmers and musicians and animal trainers, elephant trainers, back in ancient India, and the idea of skill seems like a better translation sometimes than wholesome. But these two are closely connected. And one of the skillful practices or skillful states is mindfulness practice. And that mindfulness practice is the simile for it for it is becoming a skilled cook. And so I guess, you know, bringing together all the ingredients, bringing ourselves completely here, maybe we're the pot or something, and we're bringing all these good qualities together. So we're really here, maybe cooking something really wonderful. And the and, and so this idea that mindfulness is a wholesome, skillful practice. It's a craft we're developing suggests, as I said, yesterday, it's something develops slowly over time. And I have doing that the Buddha had this wonderful teaching, when based on ethical conduct, established on ethical conduct, you develop the four foundations of mindfulness, then, whether night or day, you may expect only growth in skillful states, not decline. So here we have this. Mindfulness self is considered to be a skillful skill to develop. And as we develop this skill of mindfulness, it brings with it all. It brings with it the development and growth of skillful states. And we find another theme from this week is how much the Buddha is emphasizing personal growth, development and certain qualities that were helpful and good for us to have. Now, there's lots of lists, early tradition of these skillful states, qualities of being and and in fact, there's many more lists in enumerations, of skillful States than there are for unskillful states. It's almost as if there's only a few, relatively few unskillful of unwholesome movements of mind that we can have, and, and many, many different options for skillful ones. And, and, you know, unfortunately, we spend a lot of time with the ones that are the few few have, and don't explore the range of all the good qualities that we can develop and cultivate. And, but I'm delight in the fact that this early tradition will list many more positive states and qualities that human beings have than the list of the negative ones. And in one of these lists, and then later tradition, and now be Dharma, the kind of Buddhist psychology, the the unwholesome unskillful ones are called that they're called akusala unskillful. But the skillful ones are the wholesome ones, are called beautiful. And there are more beautiful states of mind or mental factors or mental movements of the mind that are cut possible for us. Then there are unskillful ones. So we have this great capacity, and maybe to some degree, it's underutilized and part of what we're doing is cultivating this underutilized part of our mind.
Oh, there's a wonderful list of skillful states that the Buddha taught to His foster mother. And she's the one who raised the Buddha. And she became came to him as it became a student became a nun. And she asked him once to teach the Dharma to offer his teachings, in brief. So what are so this always when it's always in a suit does when he's going to say the brief, it gets very interesting to see and very interesting to see, gather together all the brief statements of what would have the Buddha Connect encapsulates the Dharma. And see there's a particular kind of orientation that gets repeated over and over again. And that is practice and the immediacy of our experience now, that's where it's all the emphasis is so so she asks him to teach him teach her the Dharma In brief, so she could go off and practice alone. So she wants practice instructions. So this is what he told her. As for those mental qualities, of which you may know, these qualities, these states lead to dispassion, not to passion, to being unfettered, not to being fettered, to shedding, not to accumulating, to fewness, of wishes, not too many wishes, to contentment, not to discontent, to solitude, not too crowded company, to a rousing effort, not to laziness, to being unburdened some, not to being burdensome, you may definitely, definitively hold. This is the Dharma. This is the teachers instructions. And what's interesting about this kind of list is that they're both states are mental activities, ways of being that we can practice we can cultivate, and they're the result of that cultivation. They're the result of practice as well. There are practice leads to these states. And so rather than just practicing, you know, breathing ethics, all the different things of practice, to reach those states, the idea is to practice those states as well. And we find this this way in which the goal of practice is integrated into the means of the practice the the means and the goal are not so separate in the Dharma, and if the goal is to be peaceful, then we practice peace, if the goal is to be compassionate, we practice compassion. If the goal is to be content, we practice contentment, if the goal is to not be caught in the grip of many desires, then we practice having few desires fewness of wishes. And some of these ideas are you know, interpersonal, like being unburdened some Don't be a burden for other people, if you can, and that you know that we need some some care and how we understand that. Certainly, we don't want people to feel like get get can't get support, who need the support, but, but to expect too much from people or depend on people when we don't need to, is to be a burden. And, and this idea of solitude, not in crowded company. The ability to be alone and be content is one of the great things to discover. It's really skillful to develop that skill that capacity that wholesomeness, to be at ease with oneself, to be at all, be comfortable with oneself, to be able to be in a room by oneself and just kind of sit there and be content and, and keep one's own company. B one's own friend. Doesn't mean we have to live as a hermit. But that ability means that when when when we are with people, that we don't bring our neediness, we don't bring our grasping and wanting them to provide us with all kinds of benefits and company and support and praise and love are what everything because we have a lack ourselves. So we want to cultivate a capacity to to have comfortable solitude.
So it's fascinating that to his foster mother, these are the skillful states that Buddha highlighted as being essential for going off in practice. alone. So and I think part of it is that these states as we cultivate them, they lead to more and more of the same. And, or they're the guide, these states are the guide, this is the direction we're going. And if we understand where we're going, then we kind of start doing those things, those states and practices that lead to that direction. So for practicing meditation, mindfulness or breathing, to have in mind that it's leading us to being content. So let's start kind of finding it and seeing it now. It's leading us to have fewness of wishes, is it as we sit in practice, Can we tap into this and have that support the very meditation practice itself, it leading us to capacity to feel at home when we're alone? can we can we cultivate meditation With that in mind, to feel the deep, deep sense of subtleness with ourselves, and, and so forth on may go. Many of the so called these these sometimes I've called the virtues ever been cultivating, develop, developing. Many of them the overarching kind of character of those long many of the lists that Buddho emphasize to develop in practice, are peaceful states, peaceful qualities. And in the discourse of loving kindness, he talks about being upright, straightforward, easy to speak to, gentle, not proud, contented, wise and calm. So here's more of these skillful states that are to be cultivated. Another list is respect, humility, contentment, gratitude, patience, and gentleness. And there's mountain anywhere. So as I said, there's many many of these lists. So
to to cultivate and allow for the growth of skillful wholesome qualities. And it's skillful to develop these states because they themselves are onward leading, they lead to further growth, just as mindfulness leads to the growth of skillful states, wholesome states. So all other skillful wholesome states, of bring along with them, companions and other other wholesome states. So there's kind of a mutual kind of, bring along mutual support of all these states within us. And it's a wonderful thing to start feeling the momentum of wholesome skillful states growing in us, and offering a kind of energy and, and, and an inspiration and movement for life. So skillful, skillfulness May you explore the idea of skillful, you know, if you orient your life today around what would be the skillful thing to do, what would be the skillful thing to do to support these bescot these qualities of contentment, fewness of wishes, unburden some lists, all these kinds of wonderful things. Freedom. So thank you all very much and look forward to seeing you tomorrow.