Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Boredom and Bad Karma (cartoon)

(WM, 2013) They're lazy, angry, stupid, wage-slave drunks. Join WatchMojo.com for "Versus" pitting The Simpsons' Homer Simpson and Family Guys' Peter Griffin at Roxy's suggestion.

Boring! There's nothing to watch on TV!
According to the "Higher Teachings" (Abhi-Dharma), karma -- our willed deeds whether physical, verbal, or simptly mental -- affect us at every moment. We are constantly under the influence of various factors, states, and traits. By bringing awareness to the present condition of our mind/heart, we can begin to guide our ship, stand at the helm, and set our own destiny. Otherwise, we continue adrift at the whim of others or blind chance, victims of circumstance. There are also, according to the Buddha, "beautiful mental factors" (see below) and indeterminate ones as well. But let us first focus on the negative, unattractive, harmful ones.

(Monty Python) How to follow a prophet and worship a God
Unwholesome Mental Factors
Poisoned by greed, hatred, delusion
There are 14 unwholesome mental factors. The first four listed below are present in all unwholesome states of consciousness. The others vary.
  1. Delusion (moha) is synonymous with ignorance regarding the Four Noble Truths. [Conversely, enlightenment means fully penetrating these four, central ennobling truths]. It is one of the Three Unwholesome Roots, in both gross and subtle forms, along with greed and hate.
  2. Shamelessness regarding harm done (ahirika) is a lack of conscience or abhorrence to do what is harmful, unskillful, unprofitable.
  3. Fearlessness (lack of dread) regarding harm done (anottappa) is moral or ethical recklessness resulting from ignorance about the moral law or karmic causality.
  4. Restlessness (uddhacca) is a state of unease or excitement that characterizes all unwholesome acts, which contrasts with the peace of mind that accompanies all wholesome acts. [NOTE: If a wholesome deed is accompanied by excitement or unease, it is not because of the act itself but accompanying unwholesome acts.]
  5. Attachment (lobha), synonymous with craving (repeated grasping carried to the point of clinging, "greed")
  6. False view (DITTHI) is seeing things in a distorted way rather than how they actually are. There are several kinds of false views:
    1. the view of a truly existent self (ego-illusion, personality belief);
    2. eternalism or annihilationism (views of a self going on forever or being annihilated at death);
    3. the view denying the efficacy of karma (to produce the results of actions), causality (the causes of existence), and the moral law.
  7. Conceit (mana) is self-evaluation which arises from comparing oneself with another as either better, worse, OR equal.
  8. Hatred (dosa) is aversion in all forms, a negative response to objects of perception ranging from a slight annoyance to destructive rage.
  9. Envy (issa) is the inability to endure the prosperity of others, associated with hate.
  10. Selfishness (macchariya) is the wish to exclude others from one's own prosperity, associated with hate.
  11. Worry (kukkucca) is brooding, having misgivings, remorse, regret, guilt, and repenting over ill done deeds in the past or those good acts that were left undone.
  12. Sloth (thina) is physical laziness or lack of spiritual urgency...
  13. Torpor (middha) is mental laziness, ennui, or boredom, when one lacks the will to do good even when there is sufficient physical energy to do so. These two are counted together as one of the Five Hindrances to spiritual progress.
  14. Doubt (vicikiccha) is the undecided frame of mind.
What kind of bored are you? Science wants to know (News Corps Australia)
Liberated by the gradual path of training
Why do we love antihero cartoon characters like Homer and Peter? It is obviously not because they are perfect. It is exactly due to their imperfections, often taken to ludicrous extremes, that we can relate to them. By comparison, we do not feel so bad about ourselves and our shortcomings. We can laugh at them (little Bart, little Stewie, Mr. Burns, Mr. Weed...) for their outrageous flaws, yet we can scarcely see in ourselves any faults at all, which are nevertheless apparent to others. But what does Buddhism mean by a "fault" or "flaw"? The Abhidharma's list of 14 is an excellent start for self-reflection. However, these unwholesome factors are not rooted out through willpower one by one. They are uprooted by the GRADUAL path the Buddha taught. In their place, the beautiful factors grow stronger and more dominant.
The Beautiful Mental Factors
There are 25 beautiful factors. Nineteen are common to all beautiful thoughts; six vary. The latter are the three "abstinence factors," two "illimitables," and the wisdom factor....

The Gradual Path?
The path is gradual (theskamantues'dayglory)
The Buddha explained, "Just as the ocean has a gradual shelf, a gradual slope, a gradual inclination, with a sudden drop-off only after a long stretch, in the same way this Doctrine and Discipline has a gradual training, a gradual performance, a gradual progression, with a penetration to insight only after a long stretch" (Ud 5.5). The Buddha went on to explain:
"Meditators, I do not say that the attainment of liberating-wisdom happens all at once. Rather, the attainment of liberating-wisdom is after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice.
"And how is there the attainment of liberating-wisdom after gradual training, gradual action, gradual practice? There is the case where, when confidence has arisen, one visits [a teacher]. Having visited, one grows close. Having grown close, one listens. Having listened, one hears the Dharma. Having heard the Dharma, one remembers it. Remembering, one penetrates the meaning of the teachings.

Sorry, Lois, Peter didn't make it.
"Penetrating the meaning, one comes to an agreement through pondering the teachings. There being an agreement through pondering the teachings, zest (wholesome desire or a wish) arises. When desire has arisen, one is willing. When one is willing, one contemplates. Having contemplated, one strives. Having strived, one realizes with the body the ultimate truth and, having penetrated it with discernment, one sees it directly" (MN 70).

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