What is the wholesome?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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anthbrown84
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What is the wholesome?

Post by anthbrown84 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:23 am

Hello all,

I am wondering of anyone has a view or insight into this, but when dealing with a distracting thought, The Buddha advises applying right effort. I.e. let go of the thought, bring up the wholesome and return to the object of meditation.

In this case, did he advise what the wholesome is?

Bhante vimalaramsi says to put a gentle smile on ypur face, as this brings on wholesome qualities, but is there any other possibilities? The fact he seperates the wholesome from the object of meditation suggests it is an actual step. Because surely just returning tp your object would also be classed as wholesome?

Any ideas?

Anthony
"Your job in practise is to know the difference between the heart and the activity of the heart, that is it, it is that simple" Ajahn Tate

paul
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Re: What is the wholesome?

Post by paul » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:02 am

There are specific antidotes for each of the five hindrances:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/aut ... el026.html

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Sam Vara
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Re: What is the wholesome?

Post by Sam Vara » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:55 pm

I think the answer to your question probably depends on context: what you are doing at the time, and what you hope to achieve by the effort of bringing up the wholesome. In the most general terms, we can see the wholesome like this:
"And what is the wholesome? Abstention from killing living beings is wholesome; abstention from taking what is not given is wholesome; abstention from misconduct in sensual pleasures is wholesome; abstention from false speech is wholesome; abstention from malicious speech is wholesome; abstention from harsh speech is wholesome; abstention from gossip is wholesome; non-covetousness is wholesome; non-ill will is wholesome; right view is wholesome. This is called the wholesome.

"And what is the root of the wholesome? Non-greed is a root of the wholesome; non-hate is a root of the wholesome; non-delusion is a root of the wholesome. This is called the root of the wholesome.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .ntbb.html

Any of the wholesome actions would be better than not having them, and the mental states (the "roots of the wholesome", above) should be welcomed at any time.

In some contexts, however, such as when in formal meditation, these categories might be too broad to be useful or workable, and more specific wholesome thoughts are recommended. Paul's advice regarding specific antidotes is excellent, providing one knows the particular hindrance at work. Bhante Vimalaramsi's technique is also good. One can also bring up thoughts of the Triple Gem, and let the inspiration from that lead back to the meditation object.

paul
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Re: What is the wholesome?

Post by paul » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:49 pm

anthbrown84 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:23 am
I am wondering of anyone has a view or insight into this, but when dealing with a distracting thought, The Buddha advises applying right effort. I.e. let go of the thought, bring up the wholesome and return to the object of meditation.
In this case, did he advise what the wholesome is?
In the context of right effort the wholesome (also defined as the skilful) is as follows:

1.to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states;
2.to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen;
3.to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen;
4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

Note they are ‘states’, meaning not simply isolated thoughts, but similar thoughts that arise frequently. Usually the unwholesome states are based on either desire or anger, depending on temperament. The practitioner’s first stage of practice should consist in determining which type of hindrance they are subject to. Then the counter to that hindrance should be developed as a meditation subject in itself, for example in the case of desire being predominant, one of the contemplations on the impermanence of the body listed under the first foundation of mindfulness should be applied.

"And which is painful practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a certain individual is normally of an intensely passionate nature. He perpetually experiences pain & distress born of passion. Or he is normally of an intensely aversive nature. He perpetually experiences pain & distress born of aversion. Or he is normally of an intensely deluded nature. He perpetually experiences pain & distress born of delusion. These five faculties of his — the faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the faculty of discernment — appear intensely. Because of their intensity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with quick intuition.”—-AN 4.162

"And which is painful practice with quick intuition? There is the case where a monk remains focused on unattractiveness with regard to the body, percipient of loathsomeness with regard to food, percipient of non-delight with regard to the entire world, (and) focused on inconstancy with regard to all fabrications. The perception of death is well established within him. He dwells in dependence on these five strengths of a learner — strength of conviction, strength of conscience, strength of concern, strength of persistence, & strength of discernment — and these five faculties of his — the faculty of conviction, the faculty of persistence, the faculty of mindfulness, the faculty of concentration, the faculty of discernment — appear intensely. Because of their intensity, he attains quickly the immediacy that leads to the ending of the effluents. This is called painful practice with quick intuition.”—AN 4.163

After the unwholesome mind state has been conquered by the application of its opposite, then it has been abandoned. This fulfils part of the instruction regarding the hindrances under the fourth foundation of mindfulness which lists five things to notice with regard to each hindrance: when it is present; when it is absent; how it arises; how- once arisen- it is abandoned; and how there will be no future arising of it once it has been abandoned.

In the context of right effort, the arousal and perfecting of wholesome or skilful states refers to the seven factors for awakening. This group is really the noble eightfold path presented from the perspective of its dynamics, and is divided into three factors each of effort and tranquility, of which mindfulness is the supervisor. (investigation, energy, rapture= effort; calm, concentration, equanimity= tranquility.)

SarathW
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Re: What is the wholesome?

Post by SarathW » Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:03 am

The way I understand what is wholesome is the following Noble Eightfold Path.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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