Mental Occupations – Skilful Mental Objects

Beginners may develop a skilful mind by cultivating
the five controlling faculties (indriya) and the five mental powers (bala)
1. confidence (saddha)
2. wisdom/discernment (panna)
3. mindfulness (sati)
4. concentration (samaadhi) and
5. energy (viriya)

and

the seven enlightenment factors (bojjha’nga)

1. mindfulness (sati)
2. investigation (dhammavicaya)
3. energy (viriya)
4. joy/rapture (piiti)
5. tranquillity (passadhi)
6. concentration (samaadhi) and
7. equanimity (upekkhaa)

The four right strivings (samma-padhaana) will cultivate the mind
1. remove existing unskilful/unwholesome (akusala) mental states
2. prevent new akusala mental states
3. maintain existing skilful/wholesome (kusala) mental states and
4. adopt new kusala mental states

We develop the mental faculties by abandoning the five hindrances nivaarana and unskilful akulsala objects from our mind.

Akusala objects are those objects we feel attached to or we don’t like. Unskilful objects include those objects that usually make us lustful, hateful or dull-witted. The objects do not have any value except the value observers attribute to the objects. So an object that incites lust raaga is not a bad object as such. Any “badness” resides in the mind of the beholder rather than the object itself.

These unskilful akusala objects distract us and prevent concentration samaadhi. They can be avoided by restraining the six senses. We can be mindful of objects as they appear at the six sense doors, note them as they arise and return to the skilful kusala object, again and again.

Kusala objects are those objects (Dhamma) that inspire us and help us to strengthen the mental faculties (not people or material objects that are annicca, anatta and dukkha).

Skilful objects include the qualities of Lord Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, our good behaviour siila, our generosity daana and deities deva. Lord Buddha also strongly recommended the breath as a skilful object for developing both concentration samaadhi and wisdom/discernment panna.

There are other skilful objects that may be taken up by yogis for mental development bhavanaa. A beginnner should rely on a good friend kalyaanamitta to advise on the choice of which particular skilful object to take up. A good friend is one who is accomplished in virtue siila, concentration samaadhi, discernment pannaa, liberation vimutti and knowledge and vision of liberation vimuttinaana. Good friends such as these are rare and inestimably valuable. Show respect and pay close attention if one appears in this life.

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