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Virtuous and variable mental factors & the afflictions

14 Foundation of Buddhist Practice

Part of a series of teachings given during a retreat based on the book The Foundation of Buddhist Practice given at Sravasti Abbey.

  • Manners as important on the path to awakening
  • Eleven virtuous mental factors
  • Six root afflictions
  • Twenty auxiliary afflictions
  • Four variable mental factors

The Foundation of Buddhist Practice 14: Virtuous and variable mental factors & the afflictions (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Contemplate each of the virtuous mental factors from the teaching (non-hatred, non-confusion, joyous effort, pliancy, conscientiousness, non-harmfulness, and equanimity). Define each and make examples from your own experience. What do they help you to overcome? How do they benefit your spiritual path? What can you do to actively cultivate and enrich them in your mind?
  2. Explore the six root afflictions (attachment, anger, arrogance, ignorance, deluded doubt, afflicted views, and wrong views). Describe each and how they arise to become manifest in your mind. Make examples from your own experience. How do these bring about problems in your life? What can you do to actively counteract them in your mind?
  3. Consider the four variable mental factors (sleep, regret, investigation, and analysis). They can be virtuous, non-virtuous, or neutral. Make personal examples of each of these three for each mental factor.
  4. What is the purpose of studying these mental factors? What are the benefits of better knowing your own mind? How might you begin to apply the teachings on mental factors to your own experience?
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.