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What is wholesome; what is unwholesome?

In the previous blog entry (here!), we discussed the four different components of Right Effort we can apply in order to feed our minds in a healthy manner. They are:

  1. eliminate the unwholesomeness that has already been produced

  2. not to produce unwholesomeness that has not yet been produced

  3. give rise to wholesomeness that has not yet been produced

  4. increase wholesomeness that has already been produced

In this post, we will further discuss what constitutes wholesome and unwholesome. To give an example of what wholesome deeds are, we can think of the Ten wholesome actions in Buddhism. They are:

Our actions can be divided into our bodily actions, speech, and thoughts (mind). While these are just examples, they can serve as guidelines to how we can purify our minds. We can let our conduct guide our speech and thoughts, let our thoughts influence our actions and speech, and even let our speech speak for our actions and thoughts. These three inter-mingle and should not be separated from one another. Take killing for example; one kills when one does not hold right views, is too angry at someone, or greedy until the person has to kill for something. The person may also lie and deny killing somebody or speak harshly due to resentment. Hence, our actions, speech, and thoughts are connected to one another.

The above are examples of what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Wholesome actions are actions that lead somebody towards developing virtues such as wisdom, compassion, empathy, equanimity, harmony, and altruism. As we expand the actions from the body, speech, and mind, we have the five precepts (refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and intoxicants), and we can expand them to the ten wholesome actions. We can also expand the ten wholesome actions into multitudes of wholesome actions. But in summary, actions stemming from our body, speech, and mind that guides us towards these virtues and enlightenment are considered wholesome. These actions not only benefit us, but people around us, and the society. This is because our actions have an influence on the people around us. If we are negative towards other people, they will not want to come close to us. Conversely, if our actions are wholesome, people trust us, see our virtues, and want to learn and cultivate these virtues together with us, thus forming a society that strives towards wholesomeness.

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