Negative Mind States

Common sense, but worth remembering... or before we realize it, we are trapped in a vicious circle.

Negative Mind States (from 37P 02: 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 00:52:05.40 - 00:55:08.00)

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And this is pretty basic Theravadan stuff, but it's just true. In the Theravadan tradition one of the ways you stop is that you become aware of negative mind states and you just make a point of tracking negative mind states. Don't try to change them. You just make a point of tracking, being aware, "When am I in a negative mind state." Now it's a very interesting little thing to do. When you are aware of being in a negative mind state, when you are aware of the negative mind state, are you in the negative mind state? No. You've started to step out of it. Now you're just aware of it. And so in this approach in the Theravadan the idea is you start reducing the amount of time you spend in negative mind states. And that by itself creates a condition for other more constructive states to arise.

Someone asked me once, why the 37 practices? I don't know how he arrived at 37 except that the only time 37 crops up in Buddhism are the 37 factors of enlightenment. I can't remember them all but I remember the first eight. The first four are the four foundations of mindfulness and the second four are called the four right efforts. There are other names for them.

Now the four right efforts are very simple. The first one is reduce those things which are making things worse. The second one is, stop those things which are making things worse. The third one is start doing things which make things better. And the fourth one is reinforce those things which make things better. You see it in the traditional thing, it's worded a bit more obscurely, or a little more Victorian English usually in translation. But when you think about it it just makes such wonderful common sense, so why wouldn't everybody do that? Do we? No! We continue to do things which make things worse and lo and behold, things get worse [laughter].
Thanks Ann for the transcription!