Sīla, a Base for a Happy Mind?

Do you really think this is true? Does your experience validate this?

Some people do not seem to regret much. Do not seem to have much difficulty with deceiving others, faking here and there, lying etc. Still report to be happy. Others even regret smallest things and are constant loaded with regret and shame and the fear of doing something hurtful. They are also not really happy persons.

People with a more sensitive nature also seem to be more burdened. A lot of doubts often.

I believe the most strong condition for happiness is a sense of being in control.
It is not easy to be happy when things do not go as wished for and one cannot do anymore what one likes to do.

This passage comes to mind:

And what is the way of taking up practices that is painful now but results in future pleasure? It’s when someone in pain and sadness doesn’t kill living creatures, steal, or commit sexual misconduct. They don’t use speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical. And they’re contented, kind-hearted, with right view. Because of these things they experience pain and sadness. But when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm. This is called the way of taking up practices that is painful now but results in future pleasure.


The following is my understanding from Ajahn Brahm’s retreats.

That blocks the way to deeper meditation where one has to relinquish control then one can get deeper.

Control is nice for goal language, but method language wise it’s a wrong way. Goal language, externally speaking, we seem to be in control of our speech and actions thus be morally good. And able to get deep into meditation. Subjectively, in method language, one lets go of control and just put in the causes for the results. Result of deeper meditation is caused by letting go, including letting go of the will.

Morality wise, MN20 has first 4 method as wisdom power, and the last method as will power. Use wisdom power first, it’s better and one doesn’t need to use will power so often which is so much controlling.

Controlling mindset still thinks in terms of self, control the world, satisfied one’s wishes be happy. In terms of no self, method language, the world doesn’t work by what we wish for, but by causes and conditions, see the causes, plant the right one for our goal, and whether there’s an act of will or not, the results follows. In one of the suttas in AN11, morality is the cause for non regret which leads to gladness and then bodily tranquility, mental tranquility, joy, happiness, stillness, seeing things as they really are, disillusionment, dispassion, liberation.

So from this we can see that the causes for regret is not being virtuous enough.

Ajahn Brahm likes to say everything is out of control. Meaning that there’s no self in the driver’s seat. It’s all causes and conditions. Yet, those who realized this properly are morally upright. So the method language of out of control shouldn’t be mistaken as a goal language applied to morality.

PS. ajahn Brahm also uses the term: you are good enough. It’s the wrong way to approach it as goal language as it implies no need for improvement in morality if one is still unfirm in it.

It’s a method language for the goal of removing worry, self doubt, blame, and thus the motivations for unwholesome actions. That’s how one becomes morally ok, by total acceptance internally. With loving kindness towards oneself, one is able to act from good thoughts, and be naturally moral.

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Of course the benefit of the Silas has to be seen in conjuncture with Nibbana … and I believe that Samadhi within the eightfold path has also the function of compensating for some (supposed) “treats” that you “miss out” on.

But I think that the Sila do have very many positive effects in this life … if you don’t betray your wife, there will (possibly) not be a divorce, your family’s lifes will not be shattered … you will not get STD’s … you will not be obsessed with a girl …if you don’t do intoxicants, you will not lose your job, go to prison, get seriously ill … somebody who kills will never be able to go back to the lighter conscience of another person … somebody who steals will always be in fear of getting caught or being robbed themselves … not lying can unexpectedly lead to a very healthy development of affairs … etc etc

If the Sila protect you from a few of these only once, I believe that they have already added to easiness of mind … and remember, you don’t know if that happy Don Juan or that funny Honky Tonker really feel all that well …

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These people have sensual pleasure rather than happiness. Their normalized life is a constant search for sensual pleasures. When this sensual pleasure net falls apart, they fall straight into hell.

I have rarely met people like this, apart from people who try to follow religious principles out of social conformity or blind faith. In Buddhism, I read the Eightfold Path starts with right view, which includes right view about the beneficial purpose of morality.

Yes. Sila is the best thing. :slightly_smiling_face:

In my experience, often this type of person isn’t full of regret as much as full of guilt with an unhealthy obsession of self-focus. They are inwardly focused and have a habit of belittling and obsessing about how their self is inadequate. This is not the same as sila and does not lead to happiness.

It is imperative that this type of person learn the difference between regret and guilt and learn to correctly label those kinds of self-focused berating thoughts as non-virtuous. Identifying them, with mindfulness, as they arise and labeling them appropriately as non-virtuous is the first step.

Another example that is closely related is catastrophizing which often takes place with the mind only vaguely aware that it is happening.


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True happiness is in full Sila, in full morality.

The most kammically prosperous person does not compare in true freedom to one who is kamma free, one who has abandoned the fetters, and achieved the full Nibbana of material Cessation.

But now you have judged guilt is wrong. But why would guild be wrong? Do we not have a guilt loaded upon ourselves since the original sin. Are you sure this is not true?

I feel one can also say that all those ideas about good and bad only lead to conflicts, trouble, war, misery, because people always have different ideas about this.

Once people eat this apple of good and bad they fall from Paradise (purity) and load guild upon themselves?

Surely you must know, @Green, that such a Christian notion is foreign to Bhuddism.

The guilt you have or do not have in this current life is dependending on the Kamma you are generating … therefore, the Ven. Sāriputta was able to say:

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I think it is never wise to judge, at least that thought arose in me. Because all we see are time frames. Moments in someones life. Why would one make judgements based upon that?
What do we know about how someone will develop? He can at this moment look a fool, a immoral person. And? Maybe in years from now he is noble. What do we know about the future? And what do we really know about good and bad? Angulimala also killed 999 persons, still became an arahant.
We can think that nothing good can come from agression, greed, hate, violence, but what do we really know about this?

It stands and falls with your subscription to Dhamma … if you are taking refuge to it, then this is the answer it offers.

Yes, but not to me.

In the book-keeping there are three columns. Of merit and demerit and mixed.
But all this is in the Book of Impurity.

Do you identify as Christian, then?

No, i like christians mystics but i do not identify as christian

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See here for an answer that tries to explain the difference between guilt (which is non-virtuous) and regret (which can be virtuous if it is directed at non-virtuous actions) from my perspective.

This is an excellent question! Not only is it excellent, but it is absolutely necessary and imperative that each sentient being really analyze and understand for themselves the answer to this question or so it seems to me.

The only way we can ever hope to overcome and finally defeat the enemies of aggression, greed, hate, and violence is to truly understand them and know them for what they are. My teacher has recommended to examine this very question on many occasions; to become familiar with it and to analyze and apply it to my own life and experience; what has come from my actions motivated by aggression, greed, hatred, violence? Has happiness resulted for myself or others? Has suffering resulted? Mixed? What is the case here?

Take your own actions and experiences and really analyze this; break it down and see if it really is the case that actions motivated by hatred have had any positive or beneficial results for yourself or others. If you discover an instance where you think this is the case; an action that fits the bill; ask yourself if it is possible that whatever benefit resulted, did it only really come about from the necessary and sufficient motivation of hatred? Like that.

I can’t say that I know that anger for instance always leads to harm and never leads to benefit for myself and others, but I can tell you that through analysis and careful thought it is my strong, strong, strong hypothesis that this is the case. I am not omniscient so it is not possible for me to know that all actions motivated by anger have had nothing but harmful results, but I can say that I have not found an instant where this isn’t the case in my own analysis and memory. I can’t think of a single time where my anger was virtuous and helped me or others in a beneficial way.


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Regarding guilt or shame: if it leads to confession and future restrain, it leads to growth:

I have made a mistake, sir. It was foolish, stupid, and unskillful of me to act in that way. Please, sir, accept my mistake for what it is, so I can restrain myself in future.

Indeed, you made a mistake. It was foolish, stupid, and unskillful of you to act in that way. But since you have recognized your mistake for what it is, and have dealt with it properly, I accept it. For it is growth in the training of the Noble One to recognize a mistake for what it is, deal with it properly, and commit to restraint in the future.

After confession, there is no more place for guilt - now its replaced with commitment to restrain in future.

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Proverbs 28:13

Regarding judging people, we are told to not judge to not be judged - however discernment of skillful action and unskillful action is different from judgement. If a person did a skillful or unskillful action one can discern that and decide not to judge them based on such action. So discernment and judgement are two separate concepts, it might require effort to disentangle them.


I read in the suttas (MN 60) about the doctrine of nihilism; believing there are no good & no bad actions & result fruits. Wars generally occur due to greed (covetousness) & hatred rather than due to morality. I hope it is not believed Preemptive War Doctrine is morality. I read in DN 15:

Craving is a cause of seeking. Seeking is a cause of gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause of evaluation. Evaluation is a cause of desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause of attachment. Attachment is a cause of ownership. Ownership is a cause of stinginess. Stinginess is a cause of safeguarding. Owing to safeguarding, many bad, unskillful things come to be: taking up the rod and the sword, quarrels, arguments, and disputes, accusations, divisive speech, and lies.

This is a theory from Christianity. Can you imagine have no notions of good & bad? How would we live & make decisions? In fact, what you wrote about no good & no evil sounds like it is actually a notion about what is “good”. I read in the Buddhist suttas a sense of shame conscience (called ‘hiri’) is a vital condition (AN 7.65). Surely feeling guilt is better than sociopathy. :slightly_smiling_face:

It’s important to consider that Buddhist virtue (samma vaca and samma kamanto) is based on right view and right intention, that is kamma (choice) and vipaka. whereas Christian virtue is based on fear of eternal damnation.

This means we are making intentional wholesome choices. If you are keeping sila out of tradition, fear, guilt etc. it’s a totally different thing. Making intentional wholesome choices feels good!


What makes, for example, celibacy wholesome and non-celibacy unwholesome?

Also, in “Early Christianity” there is no mention of hell, the soul of a sinner just gets eternally destroyed, (which is reminiscent of some annihilationist views among Buddhists), whereas in Early Buddhism there are certainly mentions of the torture and suffering that one undergoes in hellish realms.