Supporting Defilements or Supporting Dhamma

Luang Por Pasanno • June 2012

In yesterday’s reading, Ajahn Baen emphasized a question that is quite commonly asked in the Forest Tradition. It’s a very simple question that we should consider and contemplate in our practice: Am I supporting the defilements, or am I supporting the development of Dhamma? That very simple contemplation is critical, because our preferences and biases don’t tend to lead us to question in that way. We tend to have thoughts like, What do I prefer? What do I want? What view do I think is right? Does that support our defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion, or does it support Dhamma? That’s a question we don’t often ask ourselves. But we need to bring it up, not only when we’re watching and investigating the mind during formal meditation, but also during our day-to-day activities.

What is Dhamma? It has many facets, but importantly, Dhamma is that which is aligned with the path leading to the cessation of suffering. That’s the whole point of the Buddha’s teachings—to give us the tools to free ourselves from discontent, dissatisfaction, and dissonance. When the mind or heart is dissonant, we can see that clearly as we become aligned with Dhamma. When the mind and heart are each in tune, we can feel that right away, reflecting to ourselves, This feels peaceful. This feels clear. This brings happiness and well-being. This is the opposite of following my attachments and desires, which always leads to dissatisfaction.

Again, it’s important to frequently ask ourselves, Is this supporting the defilements or is this supporting Dhamma? We ask this about our actions and our speech. We ask, How am I establishing mindfulness and inner cultivation? This is how we develop the Dhamma in our hearts and relinquish the defilements of the mind.