More from “Nourishing the Roots” by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

… Just as unwholesome volitions invariably arise in association with the unwholesome roots — with greed, hatred and delusion — so do wholesome volitions inevitably bring along with them as their concomitants the wholesome roots of non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion. Since opposite qualities cannot co-exist, the replacement of unwholesome volition by wholesome volition at the same time means the transposition of the unwholesome and the wholesome roots. Continually called into play by the surge of volition, the wholesome roots “perfume” the mental stream with the qualities for which they stand — with generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom; and these, as they gather cumulative force, come to prominence as regular propensities of the personality, eclipsing the inclination towards the unwholesome. In this way the exercise of wholesome volitions on repeated and varied occasions effects a transformation of character from its initial moral susceptibility to a pitch of purity where even the temptation to evil remains at a safe remove.

Reminder: the word “volition” is cetana in Pali and can be thought of as intention, choice, or will, which could include intentions (or habits or impulses) both conscious and below the level of consciousness.

It’s important to notice when we are being guided by our own wholesome tendencies. The unwholesome tendencies – anger, greed, rejection – are often stronger in our experience and thus easier to see. When we have a wholesome habit, say moving out of peoples’ way on foot or in a car, or (really) listening to others in conversation, we may fail to appreciate the power of our actions.

When I hear something positive about someone else’s actions or words, I like to repeat the story to others, just to spread the joy. In my life, I used to arrive late to most events, making everyone else wait for me; but now I have substituted being early for events, receiving others as they arrive. Waiting for others no longer feels like a burden, an annoyance; now it’s a gift I have in my power to give.

Many of us also have a commitment to speaking only what we know to be true. This is another gift we can give to others, which affirms our wholesome roots every time we think of it and act on it.

What are your wholesome habits of body, speech and mind that sometimes go unacknowledged by you?

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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One Response to Substituting

  1. Kim says:

    Thank you for your posts Lynn. I find them very very helpful and useful and at times inspirational. I really do appreciate what you do with these.

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