The last post in my series trying to give a summary of what K.S. and her students teach, apologies for the length:
When it comes to effort, wisdom, development of wisdom:
(1) It’s probably clear by now that the arising of a wholesome state of mind is thought to correspond to what is meant by many instances in the suttas when the arousing of effort, concentration, mindfulness, etc, is described and encouraged. So, when the wholesome state has arisen, there’s nothing “extra” that needs to be purposefully aroused - wholesome effort is already there, sati is there, wholesome concentration is already there, etc, so this is the actualisation of what’s spoken of in the suttas when it comes to wholesome effort, concentration, sati, etc.
(2) But how does this wholesome state actually arise in the first place – is it willed into existence, does it arise on its own, etc? Here, the explanation has to do with conditions, in particular various conditional relations (paccayas), of which there are usually several at a time, but some are more prominent than others - I take it it’s decisive support condition that’s responsible for the present arising of a wholesome state, which in turn is essentially dependent on an arising of a wholesome state sometime in the past. The same applies to unwholesome states. Conventionally, we can say that these states arise “spontaneously” (albeit fully conditioned of course) , as in - no special effort is needed to bring them about - previous arising was enough to condition arising now.
(3) Ok, but this now probably seems fatalistic – present states arise due to past conditions (past states of the same kind), so is there nothing one can do conventionally speaking to change anything for the better and get out of the fatalistic circle so to speak? It is here that a Buddha’s teaching starts making all the difference. As per the sutta on voice of another and wise considering, when Dhamma is heard and then later on considered, when such consideration is wholesome, it can condition awareness of presently arising states. In other words, the Dhamma that was heard now becomes actually experienced/actualised. In yet other words, there can be awareness of what’s wholesome and what’s not, and more pertaining to leaving Samsara, what’s Path and what’s not. So, the considering and related arising of awareness is one aspect of development of wisdom (bhavana) - so not just a random (fatalistic, spontaneous, etc) arising of wisdom, but actual development and increase of it, largely thanks to predominance and decisive support conditions I take it.
(4) It’s said that even this considering happens “naturally”, so it’s not something that is undertaken as a ritual (like “I’ll consider what I heard every day from 7-9am”), but happens due to interest and inclination, so to speak (again thanks to mostly predominance and decisive support conditions). It might seem a bit passive, but when you study Dhamma, discuss it and think about it, it’s with you all day, and encouragements regarding awareness in the present certainly help, so it doesn’t seem passive to me at all. Regardless, it is recognised that a lot of considering still might be unwholesome - based on greed (for results, to know, to know better than someone else, etc), as well as possibly wrong view (if it’s taken as a ritual thing without actual understanding).
(5) There’s another aspect of development of wisdom which might perhaps seem more “active” in a sense. When a wholesome state arises, and there’s awareness of it (also wholesome state in turn) based on Dhamma heard and understood, there can then also be the appreciation/understanding of the value of the wholesome state just arisen, again based on Dhamma heard and understood. This appreciation/understanding of the value of what is wholesome, and in particular, what is the path, is again wholesome, and it essentially constitutes actual development of wisdom right there and then (I take it predominance and decisive support conditions again). So, K.S. basically says – don’t try to make kusala arise, but instead appreciate kusala when it arises. This, to me at least, is the most profound explanation that I’ve ever come across on how wisdom and kusala states actually develop in real time, which is why I’m partial to K.S. in spite of liking my meditation practice.
(6) As I understand, it’s thanks to this appreciation that wisdom can develop for a beginner to a level where eventually it is possible to arouse wholesome states “at will” so to speak. In other words, relating to practice, for a beginner, the most often occurring states are unwholesome, and therefore, thanks to decisive support and predominance conditions, whenever he tries to arouse wholesome states at will, he will be arousing unwholesome states as he doesn’t know any better - conditions don’t allow it. So, no wholesome states will be developed as a result of intentional practice /arousing of states (it’s worth noting that a case is described in Patthana where even an unwholesome state can condition a wholesome one, but I take it this condition is not nearly as strong or frequent as decisive support and predominance condition for example). If, however, a wholesome state arises “spontaneously” and one’s then aware of it and appreciates its value thanks to Dhamma heard and considered, this is direct development of kusala, largely free from the danger of akusala (such as greed and wrong view). Such increase in wholesome states will eventually lead to a point when wholesome states predominate, and then decisive support, predominance and other conditions will work together to enable what’s conventionally called “arousing wholesome states at will”.
Apologies if I made any mistakes.