Skillful Effort: Overcoming Negative States of Mind II

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 167-178)

As the Buddha noted, we can direct our effort in four ways:

  • Prevent the arising of unwholesome states of mind.
  • Overcome unwholesome states which have arisen.
  • Strive for wholesome states to arise.
  • Maintain those wholesome states which have arisen.

 Overcoming Negative States of Mind II

As with the hindrances, it is important to recognize the fetters when they arise.

Overcoming the Fetters 

The Ten Fetters are:

  1. Belief in the existence of a permanent self or soul
  2. Doubt in the message of the Buddha
  3. Belief that one can end suffering merely by following rules and rituals
  4. Greed for sensual pleasures
  5. Hatred
  6. Subtle desire to exist in fine material form
  7. Subtle desire to exist in immaterial form
  8. Conceit or the underlying perception of self-identity.
  9. Restlessness and worry
  10. Ignorance

Why do we want to destroy the fetters?  Because they are illusions, assumptions that we have unconsciously accepted and have never questioned.

By using the techniques described in the previous talk, Overcoming Negative State of Mind I, the fetters can be weakened but not eliminated.

The process by which fetters can be eliminated is:

  • Suppressing: holding the fetters at bay through mindfulness or concentration
  • Substituting: cultivating its opposite
  • Destroying: the moment when the fetter gives way
  • Subsiding: the fetter disappears immediately after destruction
  • Escaping: when partial awakening arises

Working on eliminating the fetters in order:

Group One

  • Belief in the existence of a permanent self or soul
  • Doubt in the message of the Buddha
  • Belief that one can end suffering merely by following rules and rituals

Group Two

  • Greed for sensual pleasures
  • Hatred

Group Three

  • Subtle desire to exist in fine material form
  • Subtle desire to exist in immaterial form
  • Conceit or the underlying perception of self-identity.
  • Restlessness and worry
  • Ignorance

Working on eliminating the fetters will reap great benefits.  It can become one of the cores of your practice.  Remember that “the seeing is the doing.”  Mindfulness comes first and being aware of what arises is an important first step.

Reflection

  • Each day, re-read this talk and reflect on it.
  • When a hindrance arises, try the methods above to overcome it.
  • What do you find?

Meditation

  • Take time to meditate each day if only for a little while.

Next: Skillful Effort: Cultivating and Maintaining Positive States of Mind I
Previous
: Skillful Effort: Overcoming Negative States of Mind I