Tag Archive for: Mental factors

I Want Change - Artist: Meek

The Mythical Mental Reboot

To get away from destructive patterns some put their hopes into the idea of the mental reboot, thinking that by taking oneself away from harmful objects, and through other methods, the mind will return to a neutral state, and that through this alone a mental reboot will happen – a reboot of the mind in a more wholesome manner, perhaps a manner one knew earlier in life. If it were just that easy, we would all be enlightened.

What this does not take into consideration is that mind is a creature of habit, that one cannot undo past actions and that one can never start from scratch. Without having a strong inner antidote or counterforce to one’s afflictions and inner demons, upon returning to one’s usual environment one’s old habits arise again strongly in one’s mind, and soon one is acting in the same way as before all over again.

The Buddha taught that there are things to be abandoned, and that there are things to be cultivated. Examples for that to be cultivated and internalized are the positive qualities of love, compassion, generosity, patience, renunciation and wisdom. The more we have of those, automatically the less we have of the opposite.

  • The more love, compassion and patience, the less anger.
  • The stronger the generous mind wanting to give, the less greed,
  • The more renunciation, the less grasping and clinging desire,
  • The more wisdom, the less ignorance just living in the moment, without awareness of cause and effect.
  • The more mindfulness of the kindness of others, and the more gratitude, the less pride and isolation.
  • The more altruism, the less self-cherishing, the less anger, the less anything negative.

It is like switching on the light, the darkness goes away automatically at the same time, without having to focus on it.

This is the path of the antidote.

Definition of the Week (37) – Conscientiousness

☞ Briefly
Conscientiousness is an awareness not under the control of the afflictions while abiding in enthusiastic effort toward remaining free from afflictions.
It accomplishes virtue and protects the mind from contaminated phenomena.

☞ Elaborately
Definition: Conscientiousness is an awareness that, while abiding with enthusiasm within non-attachment, non-anger and non-ignorance, protects the meditation on virtue and the mind from contaminated phenomena.

It has the function of being the basis for perfectly accomplishing and completing all ordinary and transcendental perfections, and thus is extremely important for accomplishing the grounds and paths.

It is the opposite of recklessness, where one thinks, “It does not matter if my mind is under the control of afflictions,” which leads to all kinds of inappropriate actions.

☞ Divisions: Asanga lists five types of conscientiousness:

  1. Relating to the past – correcting one’s past actions according to the Dharma.
  2. Relating to the future – determining to also act in accordance with the Dharma in the future.
  3. Relating to the present – determining to also act in accordance with the Dharma without forgetfulness in the present.
  4. Preparatory conscientiousness – adjusting the mind thinking, “If I continue to act in this way then it is unsuitable, but if I engage in these actions then it is appropriate.”
  5. Immediately following conscientiousness – in dependence on the above abiding in virtuous actions.

Definition of the Week (36) – Pliancy

☞ Definition: Pliancy is the mere workability of body and mind that comes about through having severed the continuity of physical and mental destructive tendencies.

☞ Pliancy has the function of eliminating all obscurations.

☞ Being a consciousness that has cut off the continuity of physical and mental negative tendencies, pliancy creates the imprints for being able to place the mind on any virtuous object for as long as one wishes.

Physical and mental destructive tendencies refers to the inability to engage into physical or mental virtuous actions as one wishes. Mental and physical negative tendencies block joy in regard to abandoning the mental afflictions.

Their antidote, physical and mental pliancy, is an extreme suppleness of body and mind that is devoid of physical and mental negative tendencies and that makes it possible to easily engage into virtuous actions on a continual basis.

☞ Divisions: Pliancy is divided into two, physical and mental pliancy:

  1. Physical pliancy: Having purified physical destructive tendencies through the power of concentration, this pliancy makes the body very light. One can meditate for long periods at a time without physical discomfort.
  2. Mental pliancy: A workable consciousness that, having abandoned destructive mental tendencies through the power of concentration, can engage the mind with an internal virtuous object without obstruction.

☞ Concerning pliancy, Lama Tsong Khapa says:
The king that empowers the mind for absorption;
If placed, immovable like the power of a mountain;
If directed, engaging every virtuous focus;
Inducing great bliss of physical and mental pliancy.

☞ Regarding eliminating all obscuration as the function:
Through the force of pliancy all physical and mental destructive tendencies are purified and one will naturally stay in concentration. This greatly increases concentration and through this, in turn, the bliss of pliancy increases also. The further increase of the bliss of pliancy leads to a further proportional increase in concentration.

Definition of the Week (35) – Non-Attachment

Definition: Non-attachment is a consciousness endowed with renunciation that lacks attachment to samsara and samsaric perfections.

Its function is to act as the basis for not engaging into negative actions.

Non-attachment in the context of giving up the happiness of this life and directing one’s attention to the happiness of the next life is the motivation of the practitioner of the small scope.

Non-attachment to the whole of cyclic existence, giving up the grasping for samsaric perfections from the depth of one’s heart, is the motivation of the practitioner of medium scope.

Some thoughts regarding attachment:

Attachment is a minion of ignorance. From the Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance,

Ignorance says to wisdom:

They who belong to my retinue, [38bcd]
Which is dominated, among others, by the three poisons,
Jealousy, miserliness, pretension, dishonesty, conceit,
The sixty-two corrupt views, [39]
Pride, laziness, non-conscientiousness and others,
Such as great desire, I send them out continuously.
Just to subdue them is hard, even without severance.

I am the essential person in the continuum, [40abc]
You, wisdom, are the adventitious one.
If someone goes then it is your kind.

Ven Choden Rinpoche commenting these lines:

Also, I am not alone. I have a very numerous entourage. The different mental factors that are dominated by true-grasping and the other main ones such as attachment and anger, I send out continually.

Because I send them out, it is even difficult to just subdue a little those that are like me, i.e. which do not contradict me but agree with me: Jealousy, miserliness, pretension, dishonesty, conceit, the sixty-two appalling views, pride, laziness, non-conscientiousness, and the like. There is also great desire, where whatever possessions one has, it is never enough and where one always wants more.

It is difficult to just subdue or lessen these a little, without even talking about being free from them from the root.

Further, I am the essential person in the continuum, and you, wisdom, are the adventitious one. Hence, if someone has to go, then it is your kind.
Did not Einstein say that to repeat the same action over and over again, each time with the hope of a different result, is the definition of insanity?

While it is hard to give up samsara altogether, we should definitely be able to see that: SAMSARA IS OVERRATED.

Most of us would like to alleviate the sufferings brought on by our attachments, but if possible without giving up our attachments. We need to realize there is no middle ground. Either we cling onto the object, or we do not.

Definition of the Week (34) – Faith

Definition: Faith is a clarity, an aspiring belief and a wish with regard to qualities, mere existence and ability, respectively.

☞ There is a threefold division of faith:

  1. Clarifying faith
  2. Faith of belief
  3. Aspiring faith

1. Clarifying faith is a clear awareness that is generated through seeing the qualities of objects which actually have qualities, such as the Three Jewels.

2. Faith of belief is faith in topics taught by the Buddha, such as the law of cause and effect, dependent arising and so forth and arises through having contemplated them.

3. Aspiring faith thinks, “I definitely have to attain this,” after having contemplated, for example, the four noble truths, and having ascertained that suffering and its origin are to be abandoned and that cessation and its path are to be attained. It is generated on the basis of understanding the possibility of realization if one practices accordingly.

Function: Faith acts as the antidote against faithlessness. It is also the basis for aspiration and thus helps to overcome laziness.

Generally, faith is praised by the sages as the root of all paths and grounds, and is therefore very important.

From the Ten Dharmas:
For people without faith
White dharmas are not generated.
It is similar to a seed burned
By fire and a green sprout.

☞ Faith and Liking
Sometimes in popular thought, faith is confused with liking. But while they do not necessarily exclude each other, they are also not always the same:

  1. Liking that is not faith: Liking temporary pleasures.
  2. Faith that is not liking: Faith in cyclic existence.
  3. Faith that is also liking: A liking faith in the teacher and in the white karmic laws of cause and effect, which arise by contemplating their qualities and benefits from the depth of one’s heart.

Faith and Reason

Contrary to the western view of faith, in Buddhism faith and reason do not have to cancel each other out. Rather, while there is also in Buddhism such a thing as blind faith, the superior type of faith arises as a result of investigation and experience.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Faith based on analysis is the superior type of faith.


Definition of the Week (32) – Wisdom

Definition: Wisdom is a mental factor that thoroughly discerns the object of analysis.

It discerns in detail the faults and qualities of the object and has the function of eliminating doubt: e.g., it analyses whether an action is beneficial or harmful. The objects to be investigated by wisdom are virtue, non-virtue and non-predicted phenomena.

Wisdom and Non-ignorance
Non-ignorance is a stable virtuous wisdom combined with concentration that can counteract ignorance. It is the sole antidote to ignorance.

Special Insight: A wisdom held by the bliss of pliancy derived from analyzing the object while remaining in calm abiding.

From The Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance:
The sentient beings of the three realms
And specifically one’s own very mind,

Since time beginningless and non-abiding,
From whence ignorance came into being,
Have been abiding naturally with the mind’s nature.
This is the mahamudra of the basis.

They who do not realize this, grasp at true existence
And thus wander up to now in cyclic existence.
The direct antidote to this is the wisdom
That explicitly realizes this selflessness.

Hence, that a self exists in reality
Is even more mistaken then mistaken
Therefore, from now on, at all times,

I shall abandon you, the mistaken self-grasping.
Without generating any aversion,
Go where ever you have to go to.

The wisdom realizing selflessness says to the self-grasping:
‘Hence, as all phenomena lack existence from their own side and exist only as appearances to conceptual thought, as mere imputations by name, the grasping at a real self by you, the self-grasping, is so mistaken that it is mistaken beyond mistaken. Therefore, from now on, as I have identified you as mistaken, I shall abandon you at all times. Therefore leave and go wherever you have to go to, without generating any aversion to me.”

Definition of the Week (26) – Close Placement (of Wisdom) by Mindfulness on Phenomena

The definition of close placement (of wisdom) by mindfulness on phenomena is:
An exalted knower on the path, that is contained in either mindfulness or wisdom, and which meditates by investigating the general and specific characteristics of mental factors.

In short: Wisdom, a discriminating awareness is placed by mindfulness on the virtuous and non-virtuous mental factors, to investigate and differentiate their general and specific characteristics.

Focal object: The different mental factors.

They are thus either identified as belonging to the afflicted side and as object of abandonment, or as uncontaminated and belonging to the side of implementation. Through understanding that un-contaminated phenomena are the exact opposite to the afflicted mental factors, one understand that they are their only antidote, and be motivated to generate them.

Afflicted or uncontaminated, they are negated as being the self, or as belonging to an intrinsic self. They themselves are also recognized as lacking inherent nature.

Definition(s) of the Week (14) – Non-attachment – Non-hatred – Non-Ignorance

Based on Asagha’s Compendium of Knowledge:

Non-attachment is a consciousness endowed with renunciation that lacks attachment to samsara and samsaric perfections.

Non-hatred is a consciousness lacking the intent of harm towards sentient beings, sufferings and the sources of suffering. It has eliminated the generation of hatred.

Non-ignorance is a discerning understanding that arises from the practice of listening to the teachings, contemplating the meaning of what one has heard and meditating on the contemplated meaning. It can also arise through birth as the ripening of karma.

Yeshe Gyaltsen:
“Non-Attachment, Non-Hatred and Non-Ignorance
These three mental factors are the heart of the path to enlightenment as all grounds and paths are for the purpose of overcoming the three poisons of attachment, anger and ignorance.”

Whenever one generates a meditative state it should be accompanied by at least one of these three mental states.

Definition of the week (6) – View of the transitory collections

View of the transitory collections

An afflicted wisdom grasping at inherent existence upon having focused on the ‘I’ or ‘mine’ in ones own continuum.

Definition Key:
An afflicted wisdom – an afflicted discriminating mental factor; eliminates any primary consciousness as transitory view.
Grasping at inherent existence  – grasping at the object as existing from its own side, not labelled by the imputing mind.
Upon having focused on the ‘I’ or ‘mine’ in ones own continuum – shows that the ‘I’ and ‘mind’ in owns own continuum are the focal object; eliminates the ‘I’ and ‘mine’ in another persons continuum as the focal object of the transitory view.

Initially starting grasping at self by naming ‘I’,    
Then generating attachment for phenomena named ‘mine’.
Praise to whatever becomes compassion for migrators
Traversing without freedom like a bucket in a well.

First Dalai Lama:
Migrators in cyclic existence initially start grasping at a truly existing self by naming ‘I’. Subsequently the view of the transitory collections grasping at ‘mine’ generates attachment for the true existence of phenomena named ‘mine’, such as the eyes. This causes them to traverse in cyclic existence without freedom, like a bucket in a well.

Definition(s) of the Week (4) – Non-harmfulness, Harmfulness, Cruelty


From the Compendium of Knowledge: What is Non-harmfulness? A compassionate mind that belongs to the family of non-anger, having the function of preventing harming and belittling others.

As such: Patience that, having focused on a suffering sentient being, without any harmful intent wishes it to be free from suffering.

Harmfulness, Cruelty

Definition: Harmfulness is the wish to abuse others, being a consciousness of non-compassion, non-sympathy and non-empathy.

Non-compassion, if one wishes to do the abusing oneself.
Non-sympathy, if one wishes to order another to abuse.
Non-empathy, if one rejoices in the abusing of others.

Harmfulness belongs to the family of anger. It has the function of causing abuse.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
“The purpose of our life is not simply to solve our own problems, to gain happiness for ourselves. The purpose of our life is to be of use to others, to benefit other sentient beings, whether it be one or many. However, the real reason we are alive is to free the numberless other sentient beings from suffering and lead them to the unsurpassed happiness of full enlightenment. That is the meaning of our life. Each of us has this universal responsibility to bring the greatest happiness to all sentient beings.

Pause here for a moment, stop reading, and meditate on the feeling of universal responsibility, that if you have compassion for all living beings, each one receives great peace and happiness from you; each one receives no harm. Think, “All this peace and happiness that they experience and enjoy depends upon me.” Think of the reasons for this and meditate on the thought, “I am responsible for all sentient beings’ peace and happiness.” It would be wonderful if you could practice mindfulness of this in your everyday life.”