Latent Tendencies: Stuff Rises Up

Ajahn Sucitto

Latent Tendencies: Stuff Rises Up

Taken as a whole, the practice of pāramī sets up values that skilfully direct the mind.

Attitudes and energies that go towards self-aggrandizement, manipulation or distraction are cut off. And, as intention gets free of those biases, we notice different things – because what we look for affects what we look at.

With worldly conditioning, the mind is focused on material gain, status and superficial appearances. That always brings the need for more, and the fear of losing what’s been gained: i.e. stress.

But if we look at life in terms of what we can give, rather than gain; if we incline towards valuing patience and resolution rather than quick, short-term results; and if we prioritize our integrity rather than speculate as to whether we are admired or ignored – we notice bright or dark kamma.

And we notice how stress arises and how it ceases. Our ‘naming’ of the world shifts to designate it as a vehicle for value and liberation, rather than a me/them, gain/loss ride on a roller coaster.

However, as you hold to the values of a skilful life, that purifying process reveals dispositions and tendencies that are latent and unresolved.

These latent tendencies (anusaya) include basic inclinations such as sensual passion, irritation, opinionatedness and conceit – which may not be revealed as such in ordinary life because our ways of operating avoid a thorough investigation of our inclinations.

This is why we resolve not to follow the casual slide into worldly values. Instead, we make commitments to acts of value and integrity.

In this respect, Buddhist practice isn’t about peak moments. It’s about training.

It’s about strengthening and broadening commitment to standards and virtues, even when the peak experiences aren’t rolling in and your unacknowledged tendencies are rising up.

In fact, the ordinary situation of living with others is a great opportunity for developing pāramī.

Through aware interaction, we get to see that our ‘naming’ – our interpretations of what is normal or friendly, our attitudes around leadership and independence, our sensitivity to other people – differs from other people’s ‘naming’ in the same situation.

Responding to this takes a lot of patience, goodwill and commitment in order to clear biases.

That gives life a transcendent purpose: it’s about freeing the mind from narrow-mindedness, concerns over status, and fault-finding – to name a few aspects of ‘self-view’.

This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, Kamma and the End of Kamma, 2nd Edition, “Regarding the World,” (pdf) pp. 120-121.