2021-05-26-Kusala (3 of 10): Understanding the Unwholesome
2:53PM May 26, 2021
So the, in talking about wholesome and unwholesome this this week that today I'm going to talk about the unwholesome. And I think that understanding what the Buddha's teachings are on this topic or how he saw this topic, that it helps us to study investigate how it is for us, personally. And so, it gives us kind of ideas or orientation to really see what the impact is, of some of the attitudes we have some of their bait our behavior, some of the ways we speak, even some of the ways we think. Because some of that, maybe occasionally can be unwholesome, or uninspiring or unskillful, or unbeneficial. And, and so, so to look at this topic of the unwholesome, and in particular, at three, what's called the roots of the unwholesome, it's kind of the source for all things which are unwholesome. So, first the unwholesome is, is described as involving suffering, in this very life, involving stress in this very life. And the word suffering sometimes people take it to be only the big things in life are suffering, but the word Duka can be anything the range from even mild forms of suck of stress or of not just discomfort, because that's too broad, but this mild forms of distress mild forms of of you know, the mild forms of suffering. And so, the unwholesome whatever is unwholesome always involves some degree of Duka. Buddha goes on this as it involves vexation, despair and fever. So, those are strong words. So, we have to understand there also that there can be mild versions of it. And, but it always involves some kind of way in which it it, it harms ourselves that there's a kind of self harm involved. So and involves discomfort, so unwholesome always involves Duka harm, and discomfort. And, and so, so when we act with hostility when we act in a mean way to people, when we are consumed with meanness or criticalness of ourselves, when we are greedy. That's not a moralistic teaching, like shouldn't do those things, because that's the moral thing to do. And with some abstract morality coming from outside, but rather the pragmatic and experiential orientation of the Buddha, is always How does it feel? How am I experiencing myself? What's the impact of this on myself here? And so, rather than looking into the rule books, the moral rule books to find out you know, is it okay to lie? Is it okay to steal? Is it okay to, to, you know, gossip negatively about my friends. What we can do is in practice, and this is why mindfulness is so amazingly useful. When you develop strong capacity of self reflection, self awareness. You don't go to the rule books, but you go to your own heart, you go to yourself, and you see what's the impact on this, on this behavior, this added to this way of speaking. And it's possible with heightened sensitivity to feel the way that it causes suffering for oneself, pain for oneself, discomfort with oneself. It's not nourishing, it's not inspiring,
in fact, to really be mindful and see some of the impact in the way we are. Some people actually get distance at this inspired, they get dismayed and discouraged and they feel the way some of this stuff, even though some of the ways of Acting unwholesome leads are energizing. And people feel that the pleasure of being alive when they're hateful and angry, and other people, there is a way in which it really is draining some essential vitality and goodness within us some wholeness, some being really connected to ourselves, because they have anger and many times as unwholesome behavior is, the focus is outwardly directed. In such a way that we are out of touch with what's behind that outward movement. And that's a true for ourselves as well. If we're really mean or critical of ourselves, then there's a way in which we treat ourselves as an object, and we don't see what's behind it, we don't see the the way that we're aware, we don't see the impact it has been closing us down or contracting or the discomfort of that. So So this reference point of the impact that our attitudes, thoughts, speech, behavior has, and and really taking that in in a deep way. I've known people who've only only experienced the impact of their behavior, what they've done, years later, where they finally kind of woke up, and they were just shocked. Like, it's sometimes it came like lightning like oh my mind, Wow, I can't believe it. And I really hurt someone. And, and so it's better later than the never. But even better is to feel that right away. And so for the Buddha, the unwholesome is an oil in modern English, we talk about Instant Karma, there's instant way in which in simultaneous to the acting on it, we can feel how it's debilitating or draining, or it limits us or closes us off and and compartmentalised ourselves, so we're not really whole and full anymore. And this is so vexation, despair, and a fever, even when it's really strong. So we can certainly look at all this become aware of it, so that we can then not do it. And think that's good, or that's fine in itself. But we don't know, I think important not to underestimate the value of this, for the Buddha, who had a very pragmatic orientation towards the Dharma towards this teaching, very functional, very experiential, and an immediate, and it wasn't metaphysics, there wasn't abstractions, and there wasn't some kind of divine authority beyond or everything unfolds here in our experience. This is where we discover peace. This is where we discover how we're not at peace. And so the Buddha talked about, how is it you can know the Dharma really, for yourself, and the way he talked about it is this Dharma that he's teaching or pointing to, is visible here, and now. It's immediate, it has to do with right now. It invites you invites itself to be seen by you by oneself, so he's going to come here to look at this, there's a kind of pull of attention towards this, if you're really attentive, and it's onward leading, it has consequences beneficial, that leads us more and more goodness. And it's personally realized by the wise. So again, it's very personal, pragmatic pragmatism. So that's the Dharma. And how is it that way? When you know, there is no greed, no hatred and no delusion within you. And when you know where to when you know, there is greed, hatred and delusion. First, you have to know what's there. And then you know, that it's no there's no greed, no hatred and no delusion within you to see that movement to go from the wholesome, unwholesome to the wholesome, the absence of the unwholesome and then the presence of the wholesome.
That then you know, that the Dharma is visible here and no immediate, inviting inspection, waiting to be seen. Onward leading and personally realized by the wise And so and so there's emphasis on the on greed, hate and delusion here is because the Buddha, the Buddha's eyes and the Buddha's experience, all things which are unwholesome. And maybe it's almost a definition of unwholesome, all the things that are unwholesome are in one way or the other rooted in greed, hatred and delusion. And again, it could be very mild forms of greed, craving, compulsion, compulsive desire, or hatred, or it can be very mild or can be very strong. But the mild forms of unwholesome maybe have mild forms of greed, hate and delusion. But this kind of this is a common denominator for all things which are unwholesome. And so that's why to really get down and see underneath our behavior and see the greed, hate and delusion, and let go of it have come to an end of it. That is how we see this pragmatic teachings of the Buddha, our orientation of the Buddha, this experiential approach that he has, which is very personal, because this is only something that we can know for ourselves in the way that we experience and know it for ourselves. And, and so. So, the emphasis today is on this very personally experiential reference point, for the Dharma, for the Buddhist teachings, for the path of liberation. And for, if you use modern English terminology, for ethics for morality, that morality springs out of a can spring out of a very deep connectivity, connection to oneself. And, and, and we know for ourselves, and that is kind of inspiring, to have our ethics or morality, how we live in the world, really well up from a deep understanding within, that is kind of a Wellspring, a kind of a source of goodness, that carries us along. And that goodness, as opposed to carrying us along, in, in, you know, a sense of grim duty or, or fear of fear of some retribution or something. So, the unwholesome, so, it might happen, that in the next 24 hours, for a few of you, that you might have some thought, or speech act or behavior that helps that you recognize as being unwholesome. And if you do, then take that opportunity to turn the attention back on yourself, and really see what how it's impacting you yourself, and see if you can see, the way that it has a negative impact and maybe an impact you don't really want to have is not very inspiring. And, and the stronger your bout of unwholesome is, the better it is for this exercise, don't go invent unwholesomeness with exercise, but the stronger your, you're about somehow doing something unwholesome expressions of greed, hatred and delusion or something, then I think the more clarity you can have in this exercise of really seeing the impact that has on you and then we'll continue with this tomorrow. Thank you.