2022-12-19-Gil-Right Effort (1 of 5) Avoiding the Unwholesome
8:42AM Dec 24, 2022
Hello, everyone. And today we'll begin a new series five part series. And this week, it will be right effort. I gave the talk yesterday morning on this topic. So some of this will be repeating it now, but I've been appreciating lately quite a bit renewed understanding of right effort that value, greater appreciation for it. And the importance of it. And there is a, it's right effort. The word effort for some of us, at some point to this, for me at one point, was probably something I didn't care for, or worse, because I interpreted effort as being somehow a strain there. So you have to kind of apply more effort that's needed if you're making effort. And I'm a person who enjoys doing will kind of a lot of things I do physical work I enjoy doing and mental work I enjoy doing. And the doing of it, I don't think of as effort. The word or didn't use to the word effort to me means you do it, but then you do it with more tent more force, and which causes a strain or being tired. So I historically I didn't have a very kind of much relationship to this. What's the sixth factor of the Eightfold Path? Because of the the word effort was being used? I value when what I heard a teacher talk about right effort being right engagement, then I had a better feeling for it, that you This is how you engage with what you engage in. And sometimes it's called a right endeavor. And that means that kind of interpret that to mean, this is the right activity. So what's the right activity that and it's right after it has to do with mind? What's the right mental activity that we're involved in when we do meditation, and that these alternatives to effort, engagement endeavouring activity. They for me, kind of pre protect me from straining and making forceful effort. But I'll use the word right effort. And perhaps this series should go coming along with a big, you know, warning, that says Warning, these teachings might cause over efforting. So, hopefully, without warning, we don't interpret it that way. But there is something in this Buddhist teachings on right effort that is, you know, very determined very clear, like this is what we do. And that clarity, and that kind of emphatic nature of the teachings should be taken a little bit, you understand, there's a intentionality, a resolve a, even a commitment to staying present. And I love the word commitment, because apparently, it comes from the Latin root like the same as mitten to hand or to touch. And so to touch something to stay in touch, commitment is staying in touch with your breathing, to make that commitment to stay there with the experience. So, in, in the teachings of right effort, there are four right efforts. And many years ago, I heard that there was a meditation practitioner who heard these teachings and came up with kind of an alternative or he came up with an example. She said, once you heard the teaching, oh, I kayak off the open ocean in Alaska. And this is exactly how we the effort we have to make when we're up there. And she then listed you said, when you're kayaking, in the ocean, stay out of danger. If you're so that's the first effort to stay out of danger make the effort to stay out of danger. The second is if you're in danger Get out of the danger. The second effort. The third effort for a chi actor, now kind of dangerous situations potentially, is learn good kayaking skills. And the fourth effort is to maintain them, keep them going. So in the Buddhist terminology, its danger is unwholesome states of mind. So unwholesome activities of the mind that in and of themselves are afflictive. And we don't always see it if they're afflictive. Because, like, for example, resentment really hurts the presenter, probably more than the person were resentful toward. But we don't see that because we're so focused on the object of resentment. In mindfulness practice, we turn the attention around 180 degrees, and we start seeing feeling the cost, oh, this actually painful for me. So the unwholesome is always hurting the person who has them, but we often we don't often know that. And it's afflictive. It's called so the, so that's what the character called being in danger. So avoid being in danger, avoid unwholesome states of mind. The second is if unwholesome states of mind arise, let go of them, abandon the languages abandon them, and I'll talk more about that tomorrow. And then the third, the skill part, the learn skills evoke wholesome states of mind, and, and, you know, generosity and goodness and mindfulness and equanimity, patience, there's a whole slew of things that we can call upon and develop and strengthen the paramis, the 10, paramis, for example, the, the seven factors of awakening. And, and then, so develop, you know, bring them on, evoke them, learn those skills, and then maintain them. But actually, we'll see and running we talked about this. Fourth, though, right effort, it's more than just maintain them. It's to expand them, grow them, help them to flourish within us. And so, avoid, abandon evoke, and, and maintain is the four kinds of endeavors, engagements, activities we're doing with the mind. So it requires mindfulness. It requires mindfulness and it and the skill of mindful mindfulness of really recognizing what's going on in the mind. And the skill, one of the wholesome mental qualities, the ability, the wisdom, to see the difference between mental states activities, thoughts that we have, that are afflictive to ourselves that are somehow undermine us or debilitate us, and those which benefit us. And this includes being able to navigate the strong lawyers in the mind are the strong debate champions in the mind, that have the ability to argue the case for why we should be resentful the person deserves me for be resentful to be angry or to be spiteful or to be greedy and to have more something that we can get kind of enamored in this world of the unwholesome so we don't see and feel how detrimental it is to ourselves. And we might not know and people who don't know that there's a much better alternative in the wholesome side of it all. Including better ways to take care of ourselves and protect ourselves will often feel like it's justified or required to continue down the route of the unwholesome. And, but it's not required. In fact, if we take some people takes a long time to appreciate how much they're undermining themselves. They're at a dead end that doesn't go anywhere. And, you know, sometimes we have to kind of redo the same unwholesome behavior many many times to finally doggedness. This is not really working or not working well enough for not working in the way that's helpful.
So, the first one is to avoid Avoid having unwholesome states of mind arise. And, and whether there's you know, so greed, hate and delusion, envy, conceit, covetousness, contempt, cynicism, the, you know, they may be insolence all kinds of things that that includes and, and to avoid. So how do we avoid them first, as we become more mindful of ourselves what's happening really staying in touch with ourselves, then we started recognizing when when unwholesome states of mind are not present. And so it there's a heightened, heightened sensitivity to seeing when the stressful states arise. So, so then we, you know, then we can let go of it, which is a second. But also we start recognizing behavioral things that we do, that might be the condition for these unwholesome states to arise. If someone's addicted to something on the web, certain kinds of you know, drives, then maybe stay away from websites that support that addiction. Otherwise, you know, he gets stronger and stronger, get pulled into his vortex. If, if, you know, just something as simple as if you walk down a street that has a lot of stores in it, and then you start thinking about, you know, all the things you want to buy, and then you find yourself in a store buying things, and you tend to buy things too much, then or impulsively, then maybe don't walk down that street, if you know, you have that tendency, if they take the long way around the block or something. If there are certain people for whom you find yourself, you know, becoming increasingly having increasingly unwholesome states arise when you're with that person, then be very careful how you are with that person. Maybe always show up, well rested, well fed, well hydrated could show up in a good state of mind. So you can kind of withstand the example or the atmosphere of someone who is always angry and it gets you angry, or something. And, or limit how much time you spend. So you've noticed that if you spend half an hour with person an hour, it's okay. But more than that, then you get grumpy. And then once you're grumpy, things start going downhill. So be careful. monitor yourself at the input what you do with the behavior you have. Make sure you get enough sleep. Be sure you get you know the basic healthy things you do for yourself, and exercise whatever it takes, so that you are protecting yourself from the arising of unwholesome states of mind. And might I say also one of those things is to meditate. that meditation is a protective means that meditating every day, really can protect you from getting swept away or caught up or even, even, you know, in unwholesome states of mind. So it takes it takes some this is so on one hand, there's mindfulness. And then there's the right effort to avoid unwholesome states to arise. And that avoidance involves using your intelligence, it does involve thinking it out and planning and considering and reflecting, how did how is it that these unwholesome states arise in me? And what behaviors what conditions would context as a as this happen? And what can I do to change my behavior, to change how I live what I do to protect it? And so why is dharma live is one that actually reflects it in good, healthy, beneficial way? The kind of behavior we're doing and what behaviorally what can be changed. If we're only relying on mindfulness, without changing our behavior, we're probably not giving ourselves the full opportunity of what this practice can do. So, so, you might, over this next day, consider this first. Right Effort, the effort to avoid the arising of unwholesome unskillful unbeneficial states of mind, activities of mind. And see plan ahead now, if you are thinking about the rest of the day For a few minutes, and what do you think would be a good way to go about your day to optimize that avoidance? What are the contexts and conditions that bring it about? And what can you do? What can you change behaviorally. So for this day, today, there's less chance for unwholesome states arise. And it might be as simple as if you're going someplace that you give yourself extra time to get there. So there's so much less chance that you feel hurried or angry at the traffic or whatever it might be, because the extra time built in kind of ease to the whole endeavor. So giving yourself lots of time to do what you have to do is one way to do this avoidance. So thank you, and tomorrow, we'll do the second factor of right effort. Thank you.