Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

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Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 24, 2012 3:27 am

Greetings,

Here is an extract from MN 19, that I feel provides good guidance on the separation of wholesome and unwholesome thoughts.

I apply it in my practice and can vouch for its benefits. So can the Buddha!

MN 19: Dvedhavitakka Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
The Blessed One said, "Monks, before my self-awakening, when I was still just an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: 'Why don't I keep dividing my thinking into two sorts?' So I made thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness one sort, and thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness another sort.

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.'

"As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others... to the affliction of both... it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with sensuality had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence.

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with ill will arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with ill will has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.'

"As I noticed that it leads to my own affliction, it subsided. As I noticed that it leads to the affliction of others... to the affliction of both... it obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding, it subsided. Whenever thinking imbued with ill will had arisen, I simply abandoned it, destroyed it, dispelled it, wiped it out of existence."

Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with sensuality, abandoning thinking imbued with renunciation, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with sensuality. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with ill will, abandoning thinking imbued with non-ill will, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with ill will. If a monk keeps pursuing thinking imbued with harmfulness, abandoning thinking imbued with harmlessness, his mind is bent by that thinking imbued with harmfulness.

:meditate:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby Sam Vara » Thu May 24, 2012 12:36 pm

Hi Retro,

Many thanks. I have also found this one to be extremely helpful, especially because one can use it both in formal sitting, and in everyday life.

I have often thought about the formulation of Right Intention which it is based upon:

'Why don't I keep dividing my thinking into two sorts?' So I made thinking imbued with sensuality, thinking imbued with ill will, & thinking imbued with harmfulness one sort, and thinking imbued with renunciation, thinking imbued with non-ill will, & thinking imbued with harmlessness another sort.


Ill will and harmfulness seem very close. To have ill will often means that we want to harm the thing which we think causes it; and thinking imbued with harmfulness is often a clear case of ill will. What are your ideas on how to discriminate between them in a useful manner?

Secondly, what are your thoughts about self-deception or delusion regarding whether our thinking is imbued with these qualities (or their opposites, of course)? Can our thinking be so imbued without us having any idea that it is, on casual introspection? I have often convinced myself that my thoughts were perfectly free from such qualities, only to see later that I was in fact wanting a particular experience or acting out of malice. Do you think that we just have to keep reviewing the process, in the light of our increasing sensitivities?
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Re: Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby befriend » Thu May 24, 2012 1:15 pm

maybe when you dont know if the thought is kusala or akusala feel your heart, is it contracting? or is it warm and expansive.
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Re: Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby daverupa » Thu May 24, 2012 2:06 pm

Comments below:

Sam Vega wrote:Ill will and harmfulness seem very close. To have ill will often means that we want to harm the thing which we think causes it; and thinking imbued with harmfulness is often a clear case of ill will. What are your ideas on how to discriminate between them in a useful manner?


I consider ill-will to be mental ("screw them, I hope they experience unpleasant event X") while harmfulness is verbal or bodily behavior. The other third of miccha samkappa, acquisitiveness, encompasses all three avenues.

Sam Vega wrote:Secondly, what are your thoughts about self-deception or delusion regarding whether our thinking is imbued with these qualities (or their opposites, of course)? Can our thinking be so imbued without us having any idea that it is, on casual introspection? I have often convinced myself that my thoughts were perfectly free from such qualities, only to see later that I was in fact wanting a particular experience or acting out of malice. Do you think that we just have to keep reviewing the process, in the light of our increasing sensitivities?


Ultimately, these concerns are simply providing examples of delusion, where examples of greed and hatred can also be given as obstacles to correct practice. Delusion is not insurmountable, else there could be no Path; all that is called for is appropriate attention (not "casual introspection") paired with Dhamma instruction.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby Sam Vara » Thu May 24, 2012 9:12 pm

Hi Dave.

I consider ill-will to be mental ("screw them, I hope they experience unpleasant event X") while harmfulness is verbal or bodily behavior.


In this context though, we are talking about thinking imbued with ill-will or harmfulness. If it were merely thinking and did not manifest in physical behaviour, then it could not be harmful. But if it were merely thinking about the bodily or verbal behaviour, then it would also be exemplified by your "screw them..." ill will. This might be down to what is meant by "imbued with", but I can't see much of a distinction.

Ultimately, these concerns are simply providing examples of delusion, where examples of greed and hatred can also be given as obstacles to correct practice. Delusion is not insurmountable, else there could be no Path; all that is called for is appropriate attention (not "casual introspection") paired with Dhamma instruction.


Yes, I can accept this in theory. I suppose I am interested in whether the advice given in the Sutta is intended for one who can do no more at the time than casually introspect. If I can be deluded as to my intentions on one occasion, then I can be deluded again. I have faith that there is ultimately an end to delusion, but don't know how far this sutta asks us to go in dispelling it. The Bodhisatta was able (presumably accurately) to divide his thoughts as they arose, and I have doubts about my ability to do that in daily life.
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Re: Identification & abandonment of unwholesome thoughts (MN 19)

Postby daverupa » Fri May 25, 2012 11:39 am

Sam Vega wrote:In this context though, we are talking about thinking imbued with ill-will or harmfulness. If it were merely thinking and did not manifest in physical behaviour, then it could not be harmful.


Kamma is intention, not action as you say. This may be one reason why non-ill-will was selected for isolated emphasis as part of right intention.

Sam Vega wrote:I have doubts about my ability to do that in daily life.


Sure; this Sutta seems part of Samadhi, so other trainings may be a better foundation to build, such as brahmaviharas & anapanasati, after which this Sutta becomes a timely instruction, rather than one riddled with doubt. This sort of thing is what comprises the transition from casual introspection to bhavana proper.

Gradual training.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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