This may help show how we can easily take akusala (such as striving) for that which is wholesome. The path is very subtle.
From The Conditionality of Life:
“Kusala citta can be the object of kusala citta. We read in the “Paṭṭhāna” (Faultless Triplet, Kusala-ttika, VII, Investigation Chapter, pañha-vāra, Object, paragraph 404):
“Faultless state (kusala dhamma) is related to faultless state by object-condition.
After having offered the offering, having undertaken the precept, having fulfilled the duty of observance, (one) reviews it. Having emerged from jhāna, (one) reviews it. (One) reviews (such acts) formerly well done. Having emerged from jhāna, (one) reviews the jhāna. Learners 36 review change-of-lineage 37. (They) review purification 38. Learners, having emerged from the Path, review the Path 39. Learners or common worldlings practise insight into impermanence, suffering and impersonality of the faultless (state)…”
Kusala can also be the object of akusala citta. We read in paragraph 405:
“Faultless state (kusala dhamma) is related to faulty state (akusala dhamma) by object-condition.
After having offered the offering, having undertaken the precept, having fulfilled the duty of observance, (one) enjoys and delights in it. Taking it as object, arises lust, arise wrong views, arises doubt, arises restlessness, arises grief.
Having emerged from jhāna, (one) enjoys and delights in the jhāna. Taking it (jhāna) as object, arises lust, arise wrong views, arises doubt, arises restlessness. When jhāna has disappeared, (one) regrets it and thereby arises grief…”
We should consider how object-condition operates in our daily life. Is it not true that we cling to our kusala, that we have conceit on account of it, that we find ourselves better than other people? We may take the performing of kusala for self. Or we may think of it with dosa. We may think of a generous deed with regret because we find that the gift we bought was too expensive. We have accumulated akusala and it will always find an object, even kusala. ”
This shows how easy it is to accumulate what is unwholesome and harmful while thinking we are doing what is right. This happens because of deeply rooted defilements.
All the best,