Could you please talk about self-control?


"Self-control". Interesting words, "self" and "control".

"Self": big self - big problems! Control of the self, that's what Buddhism's all about! Control of the little self, perhaps I'll say that.

"Self-control"- Selfishness-control. I think it has to start out there: "Selfishness-control". Why do we want to control selfishness? Because it causes us Dukkha. It causes other people Dukkha. Through selfishness - greed, hatred and ignorance, people are harming themselves and others.

Self-control, how do we control the self? By practicing the Noble Eightfold Path, beginning with Right View, or Right Understanding. Understanding that everything we think, say and do has a result. That is, understanding our responsibility. Most people who don't practice self-control, don't believe they are responsible for their actions, speech and thoughts and they can have whatever they want without sowing the causes, and get away from the negative results of the causes that they've sown. So, understanding Kamma.

Mindfulness and Wisdom will help with self-control. But we have to be careful. Because when some people, who have strong Determination and Energy Paramis, hear about "self-control", they are determined, "Yes", I will control myself". But it may not come from a very skillful place, if it's based in idealism and the achievement mind. "I'm going to control myself!", which could be a very harsh "self-control". "I'm going to force myself to 'Let go'". This could build more sense of self. Such a person is going to become a better person, by controlling and pushing away all that is negative in themselves, by the power of their will - their positive self gets very complicated.

So how do we cultivate self-control? By understanding the Four Noble Truths and having Compassion for ourselves. Understanding Dukkha, the cause of it in ourselves, and wishing for the ending of it in ourselves helps get below the personality. That is, we have to have a healthy maturity on the emotional level. Often people, when they get into Buddhism, think this is not important, emotional maturity will all come later. Compassion will arise later, Wisdom will arise later. We just have to concentrate, Wisdom and Compassion will arise later. This is incorrect, and not how I understand the Buddha's teaching, because Right View comes first, and so does Right Intention.

As we understand that there's a natural law of cause and effect influencing our existence, we also begin to understand our responsibility for our own happiness. Then we can't palm it off on everyone else, "It's their responsibility to make me happy", as many people do. "It's your responsibility, you have to say and act the way I want you to do, to make me happy", but, that doesn't work

With Mindfulness, investigation and effort guided by Right View, we practice to understand that everything we think, say and do has results, creating either happiness or Dukkha for ourselves. This helps compassion to arise for ourselves and others encouraging us to be guided by Right Intention. We no longer want to act, speak, and think in ways that cause Dukkha so we try to develop intentions that are beneficial for ourselves and others. This brings about a more skillful self-control and virtue.

We start to develop those two very important Lokapala-dhamma. Lokapala-dhamma: Moral Shame and Moral Dread, the two virtues which protect the world. Protecting both ourselves and the world. We start to have regret for causing Dukkha either for ourselves and others, because we have Compassion for ourselves and others. We understand that we're responsible and we'll get results from our actions, speech and thoughts. So we have a type of wise fear or dread for creating the causes for Dukkha in the future. We have Compassion for ourselves in the present, and we have Compassion for who we are going to become. The two virtues that protect ourselves and protect the world - Moral Shame and Moral Dread. That's how we come to self-control.

And we also make the effort to prevent unbeneficial qualities from arising; the effort to let go of unbeneficial qualities that have already arisen; the effort to develop beneficial qualities, and the effort to maintain them, thus the Four Great Efforts - Right Effort.

Seems like we're going through the Noble Eightfold Path. What methods do we use? Mindfulness of our body; Mindfulness of Vedana or feelings; Mindfulness of our states of mind, and Mindfulness of the mind objects.

Some people get confused between a narrow awareness and the Right Mindfulness in the Noble Eightfold Path. The mindfulness that is taught by the Buddha is big and expansive. It's not just the awareness of the present moment, for the sake of just "being in the moment" which could lack wisdom. We can "be in the moment" in a very unskillful way. We don't just flow with everything that comes. The Mindfulness that the Buddha teaches includes clear comprehension of the suitability of our actions, speech or thoughts; whether they bring Dukkha or not, and this is done through understanding the Four Noble Truths. This is so we use a big Mindfulness that is supported by Right Understanding, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, , Right Livelihood, and Right Effort. Then we come to a more skillful concentration because we have less regret. We have less regret, so we're not so agitated any more.

Some people obtain concentration through suppression of their wrong views, thoughts and unskillful ways of living . It may hurt too much to examine these and find more healing ways of letting go. In doing this, they run away from the person they were, to the person they want to become rather than accepting who they are and working with who they are in that moment. So, the way to practice "Self control" is through letting go and developing that Right Intention for practicing, a compassionate intention, wishing to heal suffering in the here and now. Wishing to heal it along the way, wishing to heal it in ourselves, and wishing to heal it in the world. Self control.

And so, if we control ourselves, perhaps we may come to the fading away of Dukkha, and understand who and what we truly are.

Our apologies if there are any errors in the above text. If anything seems to be wrong or confusing in any way, please feel free to contact the teachers for further clarification.