2021-05-31-Kusala-Ten Wholesome Actions
1:08AM Jun 1, 2021
So that topic continues to be on wholesomeness skillfulness. There's a single Pali word that we, we use, we translate into English in both these ways. That Pali word is kusala, k U S A la. And it probably is seen as a, maybe an ancient ancient Buddhist world as a singular meaning and that time, but it just happens to be that in English, it seems like the two primary meanings that are translations that we've come to settled on now is wholesomeness, wholesome and skillful. And then the opposite is unwholesome and unskillful. Some of it depends on the context of which the terms being used. It seems that the things that have an interpersonal relationship, interpersonal nature, relationship, leading to other people, for example, or maybe relating to ourselves as if we're another person and then wholesome seems to be the better translation. But when it has to do with personal spiritual development, personal meditation we develop into make the middle of one meditation practice, that it seems like a better translation is skill. And the and so wholesomeness has the idea in English of something which is nourishing, something which is healthy. The dictionary definition that I've seen is promoting health and well being of mind, spirit and body. Whereas skillfulness has to do with proficiency at one's ability to do something well. And the wholesomeness can imply the goodness of something in and of itself, just doing it is its own reward, because you just feel so good to do. Where a skillful has a bit more sense that there's you're doing it for something for a purpose. And it supports a purpose, it might support the growth of wholesome qualities, growth and what's good, but still, it's skillful for purpose. And so and so you say, No, this is skillful, you can ask for what purpose or in what way. And so these these distinctions are not so absolute, but there's a tendency to be kind of divide these two different translations. One is has to do with interpersonal and the other real personal development. And one has to do with with promoting health than well being in a direct way for oneself with the wholesome qualities to acting on the wholesome and acting on the ways that benefit other people. If it's done a wholesomely it's nourishing supportive, for here according to this translation, conducive promoting moral promoting health, or well being a mind spirit and body. It's interesting that another definition of wholesomeness in dictionary is conducive to or promoting moral well being. And so, this particularly has to do with how akusala sometimes there first is interpersonal relationship. In fact, the word kusala is probably the closest match for the English word moral ethics. But rather than having some kind of authoritarian feeling or moral obligation, feeling around the word, the concept, it has this kind of warm I for me, this warm internal feeling of up swilling up swelling of what is nourishing supportive, this good within us. So it has an inner source for ethics, rather than external source of right and wrong shouldn't shouldn't deny that. And so to keep using this wholesome inner experience, to be connected to that, to know it, in a way that it can be eclipsed, if we're too much caught up in the cognitive ideas of the you know, the abstract ideas of what is and isn't ethical, what we should and shouldn't do, what is right and wrong, coming from our society or from
religious textbooks or all kinds of sources. That are very different than this welling up of a reference point inside of what really feels nourishing, healthy. That's different than using the experience of pleasure as a reference point. If it's simply what we enjoy what brings pleasure, then we might go askew might go astray a little bit. But if we are use what's wholesome, I think the Buddhist ideas, that's a really reliable reference point for ensuring that we act well in the world generously in the world. So staying for a moment with a little bit with this translation of wholesome and that it's has to do with the interpersonal world, probably the most common reference to this wholesome quality in terms of our relationship to other people, in this in the teachings of the Buddha, have to do with a list of 10 ethical guidelines, that are called the 10 courses 10 practices of wholesome action. And the opposite are the 10 courses of unwholesome action. And, and the word action here is karma. 12, of wholesome karma and unwholesome karma. And, and, and because the word kusala, wholesome is there, these 10 kind of looks like precepts maybe shouldn't be seen as, maybe as precepts. In some of the associations we have the word. They are more like the 10 wellsprings of wholesome actions that we can, that we can act on and live whatever by. So these 10 in there's a longer description of each one and the suit does. But for now, say the 10 are not killing, not stealing, not taking what is not given, not engaging in sexual misconduct. not lying, not speaking maliciously, not speaking harshly, not speaking of frivolous frivolously, not having, not being an avaricious and not having ill will. And, and having right view, the skillful view and understanding. And one of the skillful views is to distinguish between what is wholesome and unwholesome. One of the skillful views and understandings is to understand how to come from what is wholesome, as we engage in our life. And so, these, mostly talking about what not to do. But it turns out that not doing skilling, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying and so forth, just clears the decks in a sense for what's in there the wholesome to come out. It also provides a tremendous sense of safety and room for other people to thrive and to do well in the world in a way that if we kill and steal and hurt people through our sexuality does not allow the best and other people to come out as well. Violence against others and, and hostility against other meanness to others can clamp close people down or cause challenges for people in a community for, really, for centuries, it was very touching to read about the survivors of the Tosa massacre, who went to Congress recently, the today's the 100th anniversary of that massacre. And so someone who's 107 years old, coming and speaking about the legacy of what happened 100 years ago, that violence, and now every day of her life, every night of her life, she really lives in this troubled by what happened to her for 100 years. That's a long time. And so the impact of our negative actions are huge. And but what we're trying to do is to live a wholesome life. And I for me, that's a very different feeling than living an ethical life. A wholesome life just feels like it's, you know, just you know, wholesome, it's just feels good. It's relaxing, it's softening. It's warm, warm, warm heartening for ourselves. And so this idea of wholesome examples of what's most wholesome are these 10 wholesome actions. And they have
there's, as I said, there's a long description by paragraph long description of each one. And I'll give you an example of the first one You get a sense of, it's actually relatively short compared to the others abandoning killing a living beings, one abstains from killing living beings. with weapons laid aside, gentle and kindly, one abides compassionate to all living beings. So here we have, is not just a matter of avoiding killing, there's also there's positive, wholesome qualities that are being encouraged here and, and being allowed to develop and grow. And so it's not just simply a, a prohibition for something. It's because it's focusing on what's wholesome, says yes, and these beautiful qualities as well, let's live by them as well. with weapons latest side, gentle and kindly, when it bites compassionate to all living beings. The So, in abstaining from militia speech, one you read, reunites, those divided and promotes friendship, and unites those who are not yet united. In avoiding harsh speech, speech, one speaks gently and courteously in abstaining from frivolous speech, one speaks by what is factual and useful and abstaining from ill will, when one wishes others that they'd be free of affliction. So this, these, these 10 wholesome qualities, and these get listed to talked about over and over again, the suit as much more as my impression than the five precepts. And it seems that the new suit does and the teachings of the Buddha, these 10 skillful actions while they overlap with the five precepts, there are richer and more heartfelt in, in nature in terms of these positive qualities. And, but more importantly, they're presented also as important stepping stones in the path to liberation. Whereas the five precepts have a lot of benefit. But they're not so directly tied to the purposes for liberation, the purposes are to create a better society and help the other people feel safe and not create bad karma for ourselves things like that. And, and so and so.
The So, the 10 courses of wholesome action, that lead to both liberation, but also the growth of wholesomeness in ourselves. And what a wonderful thing to do, what a wonderful thing to do with one's life is to develop wholesome qualities that support others and protect others and for the benefit of others. And, and right on the path to liberation, what a nice thing that these two things coincide. So that is so that 10 courses of skillful or wholesome actions are fine repeatedly in the sutras. And the in the middle length discourses I see there's no task in the source. And maybe relatively easy place to find those you have to have access to it. The middle length discourses in this course nine has a has a list of them. But I don't know if it's a full list, the full description. The full description might be in something like in the middle length discourses, 39 or 40, something like that. So, thank you, and may your day be wholesome.