Restlessness        (mental element 17, Rs)

(See Also Shamelessness at the end of the text.)

Restlessness is agitation. It lacks calmness, stillness, peacefulness, and so on. It distracts the consciousness. It is like the water that makes up waves on the surface of ocean that make the surface unsteady. It manifests as turmoil, like dust flung up by a car cruising along a country road.

Like delusion, restlessness is present in all unwholesome mental activities. An obvious mental element, it can be easily noticed as impatience, agitation, irritation, turmoil, and confusion. But its obvious nature can be used for a positive benefit, which is to arouse meditativity. If we notice any amount of restlessness, we should realize that we are in the unwholesome state of mind. Feelings of restlessness can be thus used as wakeup calls to remind us to engage in meditation.

In order to effectively deal with restlessness, the first thing to do is to abandon everything we are doing whenever we feel restless. We literally need to drop everything like a hot potato, give wise attention to our mental disturbances, and meditate for a few minutes until we feel non-distracted and tranquil. The coolness and peacefulness that arise out of tranquility and non-distraction almost always remove restlessness.

Some people think that unless they become restless, they cannot arouse energy for achieving great things. That is not true. People who are restless think they are more energetic because they give unwise attention to the state of mind. They mistake restlessness for energy. In fact, it is restlessness that actually overpowers them and makes them aggressive. Just as restlessness is often mistaken as energy, aggression is frequently mistaken as passion.

Whenever there is lack of tranquility and non-distraction, restlessness overpowers the mind. Therefore, energy and passion without the balancing forces of tranquility and non-distraction are unwholesome and eventually lead to suffering. Such understanding is especially important for people who naturally possess lot of active energy (otherwise known as personal power).

It is impossible to achieve truly great things if we become restless. Therefore, we need to constantly keep a tab on our efforts by checking our internal Restless-O-Meter. We should not allow our efforts to result into restlessness or craving. We should skillfully balance our efforts with tranquility and non-distraction so we can maintain a steady course of action. Only then can we achieve truly great things. Even a meditator who works too hard at meditation cannot. A spiritual aspirant working too hard for enlightenment can never achieve it because his mind becomes restless.

In truth, only steady balanced efforts can accomplish great things. There are no shortcuts.

Shamelessness   (mental element 18, Shl)

Shamelessness is non-apprehension about immorality. Its main characteristic is impropriety. It arises due to lack of respect for others. Like delusion, a trace of shamelessness is present in all unwholesome mental activities. But it is strong and obvious in people who are corrupt or wicked.