Reviewing The Mind Conditioners–Part 2

This talk reviews the 14 Unwholesome Cetasikas, categories of mind conditioning functions that create dukkha, the distress and confusion that constitute the “default mode” of one’s personality.  The core functions are ignorance regarding karma, desire for pleasurable experience and aversion to unpleasant experience.  The talk begins with a quick review of the Universal and Particular Cetasikas (Reviewed during the talk of August 31, 2022), which are considered to be ethically malleable, that is, influenced by either Unwholesome or Wholesome Cetasikas.  The Unwholesome Cetasikas are driven by basic instinctual drives that are poorly investigated and poorly regulated without the training supported by the 25 Wholesome Mind Conditioners, especially Mindfulness, which provides relief from dukkha.  The Wholesome Mind Conditioners will be reviewed in upcoming talks.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Reviewing The Mind Conditioners–Part 2

The focus for the next talk will be on the first 7 of the 25 Wholesome Mind Conditioners.


Overview of the 52 Mind Conditioners

This Dharma talk is a continuation of reviews regarding the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness, particularly focusing on the 4th of the 5 Aggregates, the Mind Conditioning Factors called Cetasikas.  The talk provides a generalized view of how Buddhism describes those mental constituents that form a subjective experience of a self.  The intention of this review is to create an understanding of the general characteristics of the several categories of cetasikas: Universal, Particular, Unwholesome and Wholesome.  These categories will be reviewed in more detail over the course of several subsequent Dharma talks.  During the talk, a chart of the cetasikas was provided during the Zoom meeting through screen sharing; here is that document for future reference:  CETASIKAS POSTER

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Overview of the Mind Conditioning Factors

The focus for the next talk with be the Universal cetasikas.


Overview Of The Mind Conditioners July 30, 2020

This is the first of a series of talks that explore the 52 cetasikas (cheh-tah-see-kahs), categories of factors that condition the self-formation process.  The talk reviews the several sub-categories of these factors: Universal, Particular, Unwholesome and Wholesome.  Peter states an intention to review the cetasikas more thoroughly over the course of the next several meetings, with an emphasis on how the concepts of mind conditioners can be more clearly observed and, in the case of the Wholesome mind conditioning factors, be applied practically and skillfully, rather than becoming intellectual points of interest.  In this regard, it may be helpful to consider these factors as ways to understand the operation of karma.  This talk was followed by discussion between Peter and one of the participants regarding how these issues apply to life experience.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  OVERVIEW OF CETASIKAS


Understanding Dukkha

Dukkha is one of the key concepts of Buddhist practice, considered as one of the three characteristics of existence, along with anicca (impermanence) and anatta (the absence of an autonomous and enduring self).  It is traditionally translated as suffering; however, Peter suggests the terms distress and confusion as more workable.  Dukkha is the First Noble Truth, and the Second Noble Truth is understanding the cause of dukkha, which is craving (tanha in Pali) and clinging (upadana in Pali).  Distress is a more direct rendering of craving, and clinging involves confusion about the true nature of reality.   The way dukkha was understood in the Buddha’s era can be related to the poor fit between the axle of a cart and the hub of the wheel.  Contemporary commentators suggest this uncomfortable and unreliable fit as a useful representation of dukkha.  During the talk, Peter emphasized the importance of not just understanding dukkha conceptually; experiential understanding through the practice of vipassana is essential for resolving dukkha as well as craving and clinging, and this is accomplished through the practice of Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, the mental training components of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The presentation was followed by a discussion of how to recognize the experience of dukkha, craving or clinging, in order to use Right Effort to provide clarity and serenity in life.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding Dukkha

During the talk, Peter frequently referred to the cetasikas, conditioning functions of the mind.  Here is a chart listing them categorically:  CETASIKAS POSTER


Understanding Intention

During the discussion of January 10, 2018 “Understanding Karma”, the importance of cetana, intention, was mentioned.  This talk elaborates on cetana, which is one of the “universal mind conditioners” that function in every moment of consciousness.  Peter quoted excerpts from Van Gorkam’s book “Cetasikas” describing the coordinating and motivating function of intention in the formation of each moment of selfing.  The relationship between intention and the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination was also described.  These understandings were aligned with an excerpt from Siegel’s “The Mindful Brain” regarding the neuroscientific research on intention that supports the traditional Buddhist view.  Ways to cultivate mindful intention were discussed associated with the practice of mindfulness of breathing.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  UNDERSTANDING INTENTION

Next week’s topic will be understanding the practical benefits of cultivating virtue, a core aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path, from a psychological as well as spiritual perspective.