Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/10/2016

Master of the Pathways of Thought

41. One who is intent on developing higher thought should attend to five things from time to time. What five?

If, while attending to something, evil unskillful thoughts associated with greed, hatred and delusion should arise, then one should attend instead to something that is skillful. Then these evil unskillful thoughts will subside and the mind will be steady, calmed, one-pointed and concentrated. It is just as if a carpenter or his apprentice might knock out, drive out, draw out a large peg with a small one.

If, while attending to something that is skilled, evil unskillful thoughts associated with greed, hatred and delusion still arise, then one should ponder the disadvantages of those thoughts, thinking: “Truly, these thoughts are unskillful, blameworthy and conducive to suffering.” Then those evil unskillful thoughts will subside and the mind will be steady, calm, one-pointed and concentrated. It is just as if a well-dressed young man or woman, on having the carcass of a snake, a dog or a human being hung around his or her neck would be repelled, ashamed and disgusted.

If, however, while pondering the disadvantages of these thoughts, evil unskilled thoughts associated with greed, hatred and delusion still arise, then one should forget about them, pay them no attention. Then those evil unskillful thoughts will subside and the mind will be steady, calm, one-pointed and concentrated. It is just as if a man with sight might shut his eyes or turn away in order to avoid seeing something.

But if, while trying to forget about and pay attention to those thoughts, evil unskillful thoughts associated with greed, hatred and delusion still arise, then one should allow them to settle. Then those evil unskillful thoughts will subside and the mind will be steady, calm, one-pointed and concentrated. It is just as if a man, finding no reason for running, walks; then finding no reason for walking, stands; then finding no reason for standing, sits down; then finding no reason for sitting, lies down. Thus he goes from a strenuous posture to a more relaxed one.

But if, while allowing those thoughts to settle, evil unskillful thoughts associated with greed, hatred and delusion still arise, then, with teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the palate one should restrain, subdue and suppress the mind with the mind. Then those evil unskillful thoughts will subside and the mind will be steady, calm, one-pointed and concentrated. It is just as if a strong man should hold down a weaker one by seizing his head and shoulders.

One who does these things is called a master of the pathways of thought. The thought he wants to think, he thinks; the thought he does not want to think, he does not think. He has cut off craving, removed the fetters, mastered pride and put an end to suffering.

Majjhima Nikaya I.119

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