2021-05-28-Kusala (5 of 5) Seeing Wisely the Unwholesome
1:59PM May 30, 2021
So I want to continue my thoughts on topic of these two weeks wholesome and unwholesome pneus skillfulness and unskillful pneus. And this week, I wanted to continue a little bit more focused on the unwholesome. Next week more the wholesome. Begin with a story. So when I was 27, I was ordained as a Zen monk, Zen and Zen priest. And you know, it was a big turning point in my life do enter into the religious life and as a, as a calling as something was going to be my life. And one of the surprises to me from doing the ceremony, the ordination ceremony was that afterwards you know, I've had a shaved head, I wore robes. And I was now a much more of a public figure or someone who people could see that I was publicly demonstrating or could see in my, my bit in how I shaved my head and how I, the clothes I wore, that I was dedicated to this religious life, this Dharma life. So I felt much more accountable to people, I felt much more acutely sensitive to other people's, you know, studying me and seeing how I behave and all that. So I think as a consequence of this, I became much more acutely aware of my own shortcomings. And I had lots of them. So So became much more acutely sensitive to them. But at the same time, and this was the remarkable thing is that, because I had been ordained, I felt kind of metaphorically or figuratively or something, that I was now a child of the Buddha. And so it was more okay to have the shortcomings. I was accepted in a sense with them. And this combination, I thought was really precious, that I became more aware of my shortcomings, and it was more okay to have them in a certain way, it didn't mean that I indulged in them and now I could had free rein to kind of act them out or, or just continue merrily going along with my shortcomings. I had a practice and to look at it and to work with it and to find freedom from it with it. And, and, and so, I, but this combination of heightened sensitivity to one's own shortcomings, as a good thing, as a helpful thing, at the very same time, not to be troubled by it not feel, not be defined by it not feel, somehow be a little by a door, or in shamed of it or anything. This is the way forward and the Dharma. And one of that we keep saying there are many of the pasta teachers when we give talks about the hindrances. The hindrances are five unwholesome states of mind and unwholesome forms of behavior and thinking. When we get caught in, in greed, we get caught in ill will, and you're caught in a slot and torpor or restlessness and regrets and caught and doubt. The prosecutors will often say don't take them personally. don't define yourself by them. Don't judge yourself by their presence. It's completely natural for human mind to produce hindrances. You know, we have millions of years of evolution behind us, that has shaped us in the way we are, and we can't undo that in some automatic way. You didn't choose you know, how many arms and hands you were born with, you know, you're sitting there kind of as an embryo forming your body parts and sad in this this time, I'm going to, I think I want four arms or six arms, you know, and I can be much more efficient and do more things and that would be a good idea. We're kind of our genetics,
you know, operates in a certain way and, and before we're consciously aware and can make choices, so much of who we are has been shaped and by the month The continuum of the evolution of genetics, this kind of natural unfolding of our lives, that part of the natural world, and with that comes a tendencies to behave in certain unskillful ways, on wholesome ways, unbeneficial ways. But to see this as part of nature, as opposed to see it as, as somehow a sin or, you know, a great moral crime that we should behave this way. And so to have a willingness to see clearly, to acknowledge, to recognize our shortcomings, if we don't, if we think even the word shortcomings is a little bit judgmental, maybe you could say, your foibles or maybe just say, to recognize our unwholesome states of mind unwholesomeness, to recognize or even that seems a little judgmental, you could use the translation of akusala as unskillful. Well, that's unskillful. And, and, and unskillful, you know, can be much more simple, straightforward, like, oh, that wasn't useful, that's not beneficial. That's not as good skill to do. And, but somehow or other, this combination of being willing to acknowledge we have shortcomings, sometimes be amused, sometimes maybe be a little bit sad that they're there. And because they're, there's a way of causing harm, harm to self and others. And, and, but not to be enough to carry the weight of them and not allow yourself to be defined in some negative way. So they're, they're you the add more suffering on top of suffering, a depth of suffering. So just to see it as natural, and then work with it and, and be wise about it, and be very careful not to cause harm with it. There's a wonderful list of unwholesome states, in the suitors and teachings of the Buddha. And in this particular teaching, seeing the presence of these are really acknowledging them, and then seeing when they're no longer there, when they're somehow definitively clearly absent. shows us the movement and the potential of what we're looking for here in the Dharma. We're not looking just to simply accept our foibles, we're actually looking in the Dharma to, to live without them to be free. And this is a radical teaching that that some people feel is you know, unattainable or unrealistic. But it is phenomenal how much we could redo the software of our minds. So that certain tendencies habits that we have, can fall away. It takes practice, it takes dedication, it's not going to happen, happen from wishful thinking, but to see the see the presence of these unskillful states, and then to really experience the absence of them say, wow, this is a possibility. And to be inspired by that, and this is what inspires me to practice this possibility of freedom of fresh air, open space, of clarity of freedom. This is possible and now that I have a taste, this is what the practice with. So this wonderful list, I think it's a wonderful list of unwholesome states. What's interesting about it is almost all of them are social in nature, meaning that their motivations we have that are usually exist in relationship to other people. And so, these are unwholesome states where we can feel I think many of these as you hear them, how they are painful for the person who has them. And they are inflict pain or suffering or problems for the people who these are inflicted on these are, you know, I do. So here's a list of unwholesome states of mind or unwholesome motivations, so covetous pneus, coveting the things of other people, ill will, having ill will or hate towards towards others. Anger and having anger is often directed towards others. resentment, resentment is often directed towards others.
contempt towards others, insolence, envy, envy is often related to others. Everest, Everest, this to me began, it's usually wanting to things of other people maybe. deceit. Usually we do that in relation in social situations can deceive yourself but fraud and even more so in relationship to other people. rivalry. conceit. conceit is often formed in, in in relationship to others are better than others, we're worse than others. We want something from others into the conceit, one status when something so without other people around, maybe there wouldn't be much reason for conceit. arrogance, same thing. arrogance is often done in relationship to others. And vanity, so maybe vanity is also that way. All these things could be addressed oneself, perhaps one could maybe have ill will towards oneself, anger, resentment, even contempt and could be some deceit towards oneself and self deceit. In rivalries, some people have the inner wars between different sides of who they are, so they can be within us. But I want to highlight how much these are social emotions. And, and so this idea that the unwholesome is, is to, you know, if we want to contribute to a better society, a better world, if we want to contribute to a world where we don't want to harm others, how useful it is, to settle and resolve these unwholesome states on ourselves. As we do that, we don't experience the self harm that all of these create. And I think it's really fantastic, amazing, that it's also a natural thing that we can resolve, settle, undo this, the for these forces in our life, and simultaneously add benefits ourselves. And I know exactly simultaneous benefits others are or benefits other than maybe not in the moment, but it will, because we're not going to go around with these acting on these unhealthy kind of behaviors. So bringing it brings motivation for us, hopefully, to look at our unwholesome states to look at the unschool skillful things we have greed, hatred, and delusion in all its different forms. And in doing so, not doing it unskillful enough, doing it in unwholesome ways, to look at our unwholesome behavior and thoughts and motivations, in ways that, you know, does more the same as ill will in it, that just, you know, add suffering upon suffering, the Dharma approach is to see it as natural, and in certain way, impersonal to see it as if you maybe if you'd like your, your child of the Buddha, your child of nature of the world, and, and your worlds not judging your nature is not judging you. You're accepted, you're belong here. And so it's eat so but But please, in this deep kind of sense of acceptance, and not non critical pneus of oneself, be realistic and honest about shortcomings and unwholesomeness that we have, and in certain kind of way be inspired by that. Wow. And if I see this in me, now, it's possible to be to work towards freedom, without knowing it there and seeing it clearly. Where's the freedom as well. And, and so, this is a call to a loving a peaceful, and very clear recognition of your foibles, your shortcomings, your unwholesome tendencies, what you do that is not healthy. And try to see it, be with it relate to it in healthy ways in skillful ways in wholesome ways, and inspired by the wholesome. And that'll be the topic for next week. And we can't really separate these two so much to go back and forth a little bit. But so next week, we'll look at the wholesome. And what I have in mind is to do so more with the translating kusala the Pali word for this
by the alternative translation, which is skillful. So we'll look more at skillfulness next week. So thank you so much, and I look forward to next week.