2021-06-01 Kusala (7 of 10) Growing the Wholesome
9:30PM Jun 1, 2021
So continue our discussion about the wholesome and the skillful. And one of the definitions of what is kusala, wholesome, wholesome or skillful is that which results in happiness and is a non afflictive. So the idea that it doesn't cause harm doesn't hurt us in any kind of way. That's one of the requirements, what's wholesome, and it brings happiness. And the word is results in happiness. And so meaning that there's a movement towards greater well being a greater happiness, that's, that's part of what wholesome is. But wholesome is also considered to be beneficial or healthy or good in and of itself. So it's both good in itself, and it has a further aliy onward leading towards happiness. Because sometimes we, the whole sums are automatically happy. We're practicing and making space and allowing for the growth of that over time. And we want to create a stable, strong foundation for happiness. So we're not so dependent on the changing nature of our experience, our life circumstances, are also the changing experience, changing nature of our physiology, and our and, you know, our hormones and our tiredness and how much food we've eaten, and all kinds of other things that can affect our mood to have some kind of stability there, because of the strength of these good qualities that have been developed in us over time. And when I first came to Buddhism, the in Zen practice, there was very little discussion about that were actually maturing and developing and growing through the practice, because there was a very strong tendency to point towards what was considered to be the absolute, what's ultimately true. So for example, emptiness, to really see into the nature of emptiness or, or to see into the nature of enlightenment here and now and, and experience some kind of non dual state that and as soon as we talk about growth, then we're into duality, dual dual, this dualism our way into gaining ideas, or into a kind of missing the boat of really being here and discovering freedom right here and now. And there's some real wisdom to that kind of, kind of direct pointing to some kind of awakening or state of being. But it also can really miss or, or shortchange a hugely important natural part of the human being. And that is human beings, whether they want to or not, are constantly changing and growing and developing, sometimes what's growing and developing is not healthy. So if someone has a habit of complaining or being angry, or irritated, if they do that a lot, that's what grows inside. If, and so there's all this kind of unhealthy stuff that can grow by the repeated doing of it. And, and if we keep making space for what's good, then something will different will happen and come up. And so even if we do this non dual to directly pointing to reality, the whole system that we're in psychophysical system will begin shifting and changing as a result of that. And it's possible to track that and see how people change and develop over time. And and it's also possible to support that growth and development and move it along. When I was doing Zen practice, at some point in the monastery, I was made the gardener and I would go around and part of the job was to weed and that was the instructions was to weed and let plants grow. And at some point, I wondered if the weather wasn't it Okay, also to weed the weeds of the mind that weeding the mind. That was that some kind of dualist dualism where there's some kind of gaining idea was some kind of conceit or missing the boat that we would notice there's weeds in the mind. And I didn't see there was any reason to see that my mind is any different than the garden and the garden took care of weeds. Why not take care of the weeds of the mind as well and when I was angry or greedy or something,
and so, but as we kind of make space and take the weeds So it makes room for something else to grow and develop. And this so you find the teachings of the Buddha, a great emphasis on this developing of growth. And, and I can't under value, I can't I can't emphasize it enough that it creates a really good strong strength or foundation that carries a stable into all kinds of challenges of our life. And then people who've relied on having kind of shortcuts to kind of mystical experiences, or great states of consciousness, or even it's kind of what felt like states or freedom, but they didn't really have this inner strength to hold that, and to rest in that and to receive it and be influenced by it. And they would succumb back to their usual old habits which are not so healthy, and then they would swing between these great states and then, and then, you know, go back to where they were. So for the Buddha they do is to develop and cultivate these inner capacities, so that we can hold some of the higher experiences of realization of freedom that come with practice. And if the idea of these higher states of attainment or freedom is not so interesting for you, the it's also that as we become stronger develop these healthy qualities, we also able to hold basic human experiences of love better. And our love is so much healthier and stable and, and non not so fragile, when the all these other wholesome qualities have developed and grown in us. So the Buddha said, abandon what is unwholesome. So that just means, you know, weed the mind of the weeds, the things that are not helpful. And also what's unwholesome is what is afflictive and which leads to the opposite of suffering, opposite of happiness, it leads to suffering. So, abandon what is unwholesome and devote yourself to wholesome to wholesome conduct this this particular quotation, so, to actively behave in ways which are beneficial, skillful, wholesome, for that is how you will grow, increase and come to fulfillment in this Dharma that the Buddha was teaching. So, part of what we're doing is living, behavioral changes. So, not just changing what we do, we know the quality of our inner attitudes and heart, but actually making choices for how to behave differently, and to choose those behaviors which are wholesome, beneficial. And so yesterday I read the 10 skillful actions, which are 10, wholesome things to do, that helps us in our growth and development happen. So one of the meanings of translations of kusala is as skillful and and that has a wonderful benefit to translator skillful, because it it doesn't it with hands luck, less to have it that tends not to have so much of a moral moralistic kind of weight to it that even wholesome consume moralistic, and some people are a little oppressed, or it's heavy kind of to, to kind of even get close to that kind of language. But skillful is kind of free of that. And, and then you ask skillful for what skillful for cultivating the path of liberation, skillful for developing, you know, all kinds of wonderful things we can develop, including skillful in developing the practice, and, and skill developing a skill is done by repeated engagement over and over and over again. And a lot of small movements sometimes to learn a skill. And, and so one of the skills that I've learned in the last three months, and I'm surprised you know how I'm still learning the art of it, it seems like it's very, very simple, and I thought it was much simpler than it is, but I'm learning these very subtle distinctions. That makes me more and more skillful. And they actually the word skill in English comes from a Germanic word, and in Norwegian, at least, it's the word
Schiller, and it means to distinguish or separate out. And that's the original contract, Matic source of the word. To make distinctions of separate out, and so I'm making this skill I'm learning as finer and finer as little skills to make it easier and easier. And that is my right eye. Now, I were a contact. And for these last few months, and putting that contact in, I'm getting better and better ATS and sometimes it was a real challenge, I think it would fall out, it wouldn't get in, right, I didn't co couldn't quite sometimes get it to work and, and, and then, and then over these months, doing a day after day after day, and paying attention to what I'm doing, think attention to exactly the position of the fingers where the contact fits in my fingers, all these little details. And I'm getting better and better. And, and it was surprisingly now, it's just like, so easy when it's when it's done, right. It's just like, it's just like, so, like such a beautiful, smooth, easy kind of graceful kind of a just think I think just slides right up on there, I just sits there with no effort on my part. It's just like almost like it wants to be there and sit there on the on the eyeball. And so you know, I'm still learning skills in my old age, right. So that's a wonderful skill, I'm learning these subtle little distinctions. Same thing happens in doing Buddhist practice. We're learning these subtle, subtle distinctions in our posture, and how to sit, then we develop our meditation posture, and it's more more skillful or wholesome or beneficial. We're developing all these little skills and how to be with a breath and how to pay attention to the breath. We're learning all little movements of the mind. Slowly, slowly, incrementally, we'll learn what it's like to be mindful what it's like to let go, what it's like to where to focus it, how to focus and, and how to concentrate and how to be a quantumness. And how to, you know what kind of effort to make and energy to make just the right amount of effort, not too much and too little. And this is partly learn not because you read a book and say this is the formula, what you do, but rather it's it's through engagement over and over and over again. Like a swimmer who's athlete to swimming, training for competitive racing, they learn ever, ever refined distinctions and how they move their arm in the water to make the least resistance to get the most push off water. So same thing in meditation, we learned the body, the system, even unconsciously, there's this growth and development of skills. And so when we talk about meditation practice, rather than how we live in our interpersonal lives, the word kusala is sometimes better translated as skill. And we're doing with skillful, we're developing certain kinds of skills. And the metaphor that Buddho uses for the use of metaphors that are clearly having to do with skills that people develop. So developing the five faculties, which was the theme for the first five weeks of these YouTube 7am teachings I did starting last March, the metaphor used for the five faculties was tuning and playing a lute, and a five string glute, and you know, you want to get you've learned how to tune it better and better, you'll learn how to play it better and better. And so we're learning these five strings inside of us. And slowly we learn to tune them and play them. For mindfulness practice, the metaphor There is also developing a skill, and that is learning to cook. And, and cooking also is a skill that's learned over time and, and the more we cook a dish, the simpler, straightforward, easier, more creative we can get. And we develop a skill that were awkward when we first began with the recipe and kind of tried to put it all together and figured out how it all worked. So a skilled meditator, skilled mindfulness practitioner is like a skilled cook, according to the Buddha. And,
and so this idea of developing a skill, and so as skill grows through time, and as certain skills develop, they make room for other good qualities to develop and grow as well. And so, the theme for today is idea of, of growth, of kind of inner growth of our good qualities, or abilities, our mental capacities or mental attitudes and growth in what's beneficial. That is little bit different than making something happen, but allowing for this natural process of growing, that is flow comes from repetition over and over and over again. Do The same thing over and over again, doing kindness over and over again, friendliness, generosity over and over again. We're developing a skill and making finer finer distinction in all kinds of ways that benefit us and hopefully benefit others. And in such a way that over time, something's growing and thriving. There's an abundance, there's a, there's a fulfilling out of something really marvelous within us. And, and so to make room for that, to recognize that that's part of what we're doing here. So we have the patience to continue and keep going. And also the ability to recognize that it's not just about experiencing emptiness or a strong states of concentration. There's all these things we're cultivating and developing, and becoming skilled for that will support us. So I'll talk more about some of the wholesome skills they're developed in the next couple of days, next few days. So thank you, very much may, may you study, reflect on ways that you have grown in wholesale wholesome qualities. How over the last five years, 10 years, 20 years, have you changed and grown in a wholesome, beneficial ways, with your inner life and how you live your life and how did that steady slow growth happened for you. So thank you.