Mental defilements afflict the vast majority of beings. They fester in our minds when we leave them unchecked, letting mental habits control us. As a consequence of unskillful thoughts, speech or actions, we end up in despair or regret, and having to bear the resultant ‘kamma’.
Letting defilements take control and doing nothing to counteract them is called ‘papatita’ – ‘downfall’ or ‘falling away’. The way to avoid our downfall is by developing our mind through the practice of meditation. Meditation increases our mindfulness, concentration, awareness and sharpens our ability to master our minds. It also alleviates stress, enables us to experience a deeper joy and amplifies positive emotions like empathy and compassion.
Through consistent practice, it becomes easier for us to know ourselves and free our minds from defiling thoughts. When we see how defilements afflict the mind and prevent it from achieving calmness and peace, we see no sense in clinging to fleeting and unreliable mundane pleasures; we gradually let go of them. This is the happiness of a cultivated mind.