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The first effort states to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states

How is this done? How can we prevent something beforehand? By avoiding situations? By trying to be in a rational and/or 'dhammic' frame of mind?

If there is contact with an object, either ignorance or wisdom arises subsequently in response, and AFTER THAT, we can use sati-sampajañña to get rid of the unwholesome state (2nd factor of right effort).

But how is the first factor to be practised?

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The following theme for reflection from AN 5.57 (quoted below) can prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states. It encourages shame of evil (hiri) and fear of evil (otappa), which are mentioned as beautiful mental factors in the Abhidhamma.

“And for the sake of what benefit should a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do’? People engage in misconduct by body, speech, and mind. But when one often reflects upon this theme, such misconduct is either completely abandoned or diminished. It is for the sake of this benefit that a woman or a man, a householder or one gone forth, should often reflect thus: ‘I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; I have kamma as my origin, kamma as my relative, kamma as my resort; I will be the heir of whatever kamma, good or bad, that I do.’

  • Isn't that saying karma belongs to you mean that you have a self? – Ooker Mar 14 at 1:10
  • All phenomena is not self. Thinking karma belongs to me and I inherit my karma is a sort of clinging but in this case, it's one of the rare instances of temporary skillful clinging and it's for the purpose of increasing virtue. The same applies to clinging to the Dhamma (teachings). They must eventually be abandoned as one does to a raft after reaching the other shore. Please see this answer. – ruben2020 Mar 14 at 1:53
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"to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states": the first in this regard is to do not associate with fools and further might then be learned elsewhere. Most difficult if not training already on the path. So better train right effort in looking after right view, effort and making the Sila section full.

(Not for exchange, stacks and trade but for liberation)

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You might be able to answer this from your own experience: why don't you kill people, for example? Why avoid lying, stealing, sexual misconduct, alcohol?

I suppose it's:

  • Avoiding a situation where that might seem tempting
  • Not seeking that situation (and therefore never finding it)
  • Considering the danger in advance (because the dhamma tells you to) so that "that's a danger, I'll avoid doing that" is a "instinctive" reaction when there is any contact with a situation like that (except that I'd guess that isn't "instinct", instead it's training and habit, character)
  • Using conceit as a tool (e.g. "I don't want to see myself as being the kind of person who can do that kind of thing") -- possibly related to the sense of shame -- for example if the feeling of beginning to get angry causes the feeling of shame to arise (or if not shame then compassion, any awareness of the disadvantages), then you'll want to "prevent the arising" of anger.
  • Having better (more skilful) alternatives to use -- e.g. tell the truth, stay on-topic, or stay silent instead of lying or being "harsh" -- and so on.

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