The Perfection of Determination - Four firm foundations

We read in the Commentary to the “Basket of Conduct” about four dhammas which are firm foundations, aditthana dhammas, dhammas that are basic to all the perfections. These are: truthfulness, sacca, relinquishment, caga, calm or peace, upasama, and panna.
The foundation dhamma of truthfulness, sacca, is steadfastness in truthfulness. We can verify for ourselves to what extent we are stable in truthfulness and sincerity. One may realize that one is not steadfast in truthfulness. We should have a refined knowledge of ourselves and see the disadvantage of action and speech that is not truthful. Even with regard to insignificant matters we should know when we deviate from the truth. At such moments we are overcome by the strength of the defilements we have accumulated.
If we consider and notice our akusala, we can see the disadvantage of the akusala we have accumulated and which conditions unwholesome conduct. We can see the disadvantage of our lack of truthfulness and hence we can become more steadfast in truthfulness. A person who is without defilements will not tell a lie and his actions will be in accordance with his thoughts and speech. He is firmly established in truthfulness. Someone who is not steadfast in truthfulness does not act in accordance with his speech, because of the strength of his defilements.
Some people think that it is not important to keep one’s appointments. Here we see that the accumulation of akusala leads us to not being truthful in fulfilling what we promised. When people do not see the importance of truthfulness in speech, it is a condition for not seeking the truth which also includes the truth of the noble ones, the ariyans. As regards the observance of truthfulness in speech, even small children can notice whether someone acts in accordance with his words. When they are grown up they abhor all the more eloquence that is deceptive, speech that is not truthful, that is not the speech of the noble ones.
When someone maintains truthfulness in speech, speech that does not deviate from the truth, he will continue to be steadfast in every respect, even when he is in danger of life. This is steadfastness in truthfulness, saccaditthana. We should be firmly established in truthfulness so that we shall reach the further shore, nibbana.
The second foundation dhamma is steadfastness in relinquishment, caga, the relinquishment of defilements. Relinquishment is not only the giving away of material things for the benefit and happiness of others, such as acts of generosity, dana. But it is also relinquishment of defilements, and this is to the benefit of oneself. When we give away material things to others, we should also be intent on the relinquishment of our defilements. We should consider whether our action and speech are motivated by kusala cittas, we should not give with the expectation to receive something in return. Clinging, lobha, is the opposite, the enemy, of all the perfections. When we have lobha, when we desire to gain something, or when we expect something in return for our good deed, this is opposed to the development of the perfections. Therefore, we should give in such a way that our steadfastness in relinquishing defilements can grow. When we give, we should not expect anything in return, and moreover, we should not think of giving as being tedious, we should not give without cheerfulness and generosity, we should give whole- heartedly. We need to have a subtle and detailed knowledge of our cittas, otherwise defilements cannot be eliminated. When we see someone else’s generosity, we can rejoice in his good deed, we can feel enthusiasm about it. We should remember that also forgiving is a kind of dana, because we wish someone else to be free from any adversity or danger. Thus, generosity is not merely the giving of material gifts. There can be purity of citta when, by our acts of generosity, we are intent on giving support to someone else and make him free from harm. We may be able to rejoice in giving and also abandon our own defilements at such moments.

Topic 284