In Dhamma practice our aim should be to get rid of the unwholesome factors and cultivate the wholesome ones. This has been outlined by the Buddha under Right Effort (sammaa vaayaama), the fifth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, in terms of four practices. The disciple rouses his will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts the mind, and strives to:|
1. prevent the arising of unarisen evil, unwholesome thoughts;
2. abandon evil, unwholesome thoughts that have arisen;
3. produce wholesome thoughts that have not yet arisen;
4. maintain the wholesome factors that have arisen and not let them disappear, but bring them to growth, maturity and full perfection of development.
Regarding the unwholesome thoughts, to prevent them from arising or to abandon them as soon as they have arisen, we have to be mindful of the state of the mind, i.e., whether the mind is with greed, hate and delusion or not. By the constant practice of mindfulness we can learn to catch the unwholesome mental factors as soon as they arise. This mere recognition is often enough to prevent them from gaining ground, from leading to action by deed, word or thought. If this is done on a regular basis, these unwholesome thoughts can become attenuated and eventually cease.
Sometimes, however, unwholesome thoughts keep recurring and mere observation of the state of the mind may not be enough to deal with them. In such situations there are five methods proposed by the Buddha, described in the 20th Middle Length Discourse (Majjhima Nikaaya), MN 20. These are, briefly, as follows:
1. to give one"s attention to a different object of a wholesome nature;
2. to reflect on the danger in those unwholesome thoughts;
3. to try not to give any attention to them;
4. to give attention to the removal of the source of those thoughts;
5. to clench the teeth, press the tongue against the palate and restrain, subdue, and suppress the mind with the mind.
Meditation is an important aspect of Buddhist practice. There are forty subjects of samaadhi meditation to suit different individual temperaments and also many types of insight meditation. To select a suitable subject of meditation it is best to seek the help of a competent teacher. If such a teacher is not available, then one has to make a sincere and honest search of one"s temperament and character and find guidance in a standard book on meditation. A few examples are given below:
1. The four sublime abodes — loving kindness for those with ill will; compassion for those with a streak of cruelty; sympathetic joy for those with envy, jealousy, aversion, and boredom; equanimity for those with lust and greed.
2. For the conceited: meditation on the absence of an abiding self in all bodily and mental phenomena of existence.
3. For those with sexual obsession: meditation on the unattractive nature of the body.
4. For those with wavering confidence:meditation on the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
The ultimate aim should be to develop wisdom (pañña). This is achieved by insight meditation (vipassanaa bhaavanaa), which leads to fully comprehending by direct experience the three characteristics of existence — impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness.
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Provided Courtesy : Access to Insight Readings in Theravada Buddhism http://www.accesstoinsight.org/index.html
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