How are we holding the practice?
The Buddha taught many different aspects of technique and method, often from an organic, big picture, complete view. How do we encompass that for ourselves? How do we develop a context for using different methods, techniques and particulars of practice?
One of the most clear and tangible examples showing the Buddha’s approach is the discourse in the Anguttara Nikaya entitled Volition (AN 10.2).
The Buddha explains that, beginning with virtue, causes and conditions are put into place and one reaps the fruits of that. The Buddha says that there is no real need for a virtuous person to set the intention, “May I experience non-regret, non-remorse.” It is natural that that person would experience non-regret, non-remorse, and a sense of clarity and well-being with one’s conduct. There’s no need to set the intention or put forth the will, “May I experience gladness.” The Buddha explains that it’s natural.
He repeats this for gladness, joy, tranquility, happiness, and concentration.
The Buddha then takes it from concentration on to seeing things clearly, experiencing dispassion, disenchantment, liberation, and knowledge and vision of liberation.
It is important to note that it’s not as if you are trying to squeeze gladness or joy out of your meager being. When we fill the heart with a sense of virtue, gladness is quite natural. The word the Buddha uses for that is dhammatā. It has a deep meaning: according to Dhamma, according to fundamental realities of truth. This is the way the universe works. It involves paying attention to the qualities that support a sense of well-being. It all ties in.
It is the effort of observing what increases wholesome dhammas and what decreases unwholesome dhammas. Virtue is for the increase of wholesome qualities, wholesome dhammas. Happiness, joy, appreciation, loving-kindness: these are all qualities that we can be attending to and cultivating. They lay the foundation for well-being within the citta, within the mind, the heart: wholesome dhammas increase, unwholesome dhammas decrease.
It is a natural progression.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from the book, Nourishing the Roots, “What Accords With Dhamma,” (pdf) pp. 21-22.