Dhamma Talk by Bhikkhu Viriyakitti
October 21, 2017
 Anguttara Nikaya 53 (3) & 55 (5)

Here are some important quotes from these sutta below:

53(3) Standstill

“Bhikkhus, I do not praise even a standstill in wholesome qualities, much less decline. I praise only growth in wholesome qualities, not a standstill or deterioration.

“And how is there deterioration— not a standstill or growth— in wholesome qualities? Here, a bhikkhu has a certain degree of faith, virtuous behavior, learning, renunciation, wisdom, and discernment. Those qualities of his do not remain the same or increase. This, I say, is deterioration rather than a standstill or growth in wholesome qualities. Thus there is deterioration—not a standstill or growth— in wholesome qualities. “And how is there a standstill— not deterioration or growth— in wholesome qualities.

“Bhikkhus, a bhikkhu who is not skilled in the ways of others’ minds [should train]: ‘I will be skilled in the ways of my own mind.’… But if, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu knows: ‘I am often without longing … and concentrated,’ then he should base himself on those same wholesome qualities and make a further effort to reach the destruction of the taints.””

55 (5) Decline

“And how, friends, is a bhikkhu skilled in the ways of his own mind? It is just as if a woman or a man—young, youthful, and fond of ornaments—would look at her or his own facial reflection in a clean and bright mirror or in a bowl of clear water. If they see any dust or blemish there, they will make an effort to remove it. But if they do not see any dust or blemish there, they will be glad about it; and their wish fulfilled, they will think, ‘How fortunate for me that I’m clean! ’So too, self-examination is very helpful for a bhikkhu [to grow] in wholesome qualities.

“[ One should ask oneself:] (1) ‘Am I often without longing? Does this quality exist in me or not? (2) Am I often without ill will? Does this quality exist in me or not? (3) Am I often free from dullness and drowsiness? Does this quality exist in me or not? (4) Am I often calm? Does this quality exist in me or not? (5) Am I often free from doubt? Does this quality exist in me or not? (6) Am I often without anger? Does this quality exist in me or not? (7) Is my mind often undefiled? Does this quality exist in me or not? (8) Do I gain internal joy of the Dhamma? Does this quality exist in me or not? (9) Do I gain internal serenity of mind? Does this quality exist in me or not? (10) Do I gain the higher wisdom of insight into phenomena? Does this quality exist in me or not?

“If, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu does not see any of these wholesome qualities present in himself, then he should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities. Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to extinguish [the fire on] his clothes or head, so that bhikkhu should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities. “But if, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu sees some wholesome qualities present in himself but not others,  “he should base himself on those wholesome qualities that he sees in himself and put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to obtain those wholesome qualities that he does not see in himself. Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire … to extinguish [the fire on] his clothes or head, so that bhikkhu should base himself on the wholesome qualities that he sees in himself and put forth extraordinary desire … to obtain those wholesome qualities that he does not see in himself. “But if, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu sees all these wholesome qualities present in himself, he should base himself on those same wholesome qualities and make a further effort to reach the destruction of the taints.””

(Source: The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya (The Teachings of the Buddha) by Bhikkhu Bodhi)

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