Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

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Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby starter » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:10 pm

Greetings!

I happened to read the following in a recommended interview:

"What works to free our minds from the habits I mentioned earlier that cause suffering. What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding."

I wonder if such an effort to "free the mind from judgement" belongs to Right Effort. As I understand from the suttas, the Buddha taught us to always apply judgment to distinguish the wholesome/unwholesome, the rewards/drawbacks, and the beneficial/un-beneficial, in order to avoid/abandon the unwholesome and to arouse/develop the wholesome, e.g. in MN 19:

"As I abided thus, diligent, ardent, and resolute, a thought of sensual desire arose in me. I understood thus: ‘This thought of sensual desire has arisen in me. This leads to my own affliction, to others’ affliction, and to the affliction of both; it obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna.’ When I considered: ‘This leads to my own affliction,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This leads to others’ affliction,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This leads to the affliction of both,’ it subsided in me; when I considered: ‘This obstructs wisdom, causes difficulties, and leads away from Nibbāna,’ it subsided in me. Whenever a thought of sensual desire arose in me, I abandoned it, removed it, did away with it."

And in e.g. MN 20:

“If, while he is giving attention to some other sign connected with what is wholesome, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion, then he should examine the danger in those thoughts thus: ‘These thoughts are unwholesome, they are reprehensible, they result in suffering.′ When he examines the danger in those thoughts, then any evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion are abandoned in him and subside. With the abandoning of them his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated. Just as a man or a woman, young, youthful, and fond of ornaments, would be horrified, humiliated, and disgusted if the carcass of a snake or a dog or a human being were hung around his or her neck, so too…when a bhikkhu examines the danger in those thoughts…his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated."

Metta to all!
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:30 pm

The Buddha certainly spoke against useless views and speculation on things not conducive to the path:
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading away, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsessions with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And, even in terms of mundane existence, it is good advice to not jump to conclusions, and not to judge things that we don't fully understand.

It's also worth looking at the whole context of the interview with Joseph Goldstein:
Joseph: ... We have many students in the Vipassana insight practices who also study with Zen masters, they study with Tibetan teachers and the reverse. So it’s interesting just to watch that happening. I think it’s most helpful when it’s held in a spirit of good old American pragmatism, which means we don’t get fixated on, or attached to, views ;but, we really begin to look at our practice, and our minds, and the discipline of meditation, and to see what works.

Vince: What works, right.

Joseph: What works to free our minds from the habits I mentioned earlier that cause suffering. What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding. And when I saw that, when I saw that the teachings were not so much expressions of metaphysical truths, but that they were really skillful means to liberate the mind, then it became much easier to hold differences of approach in the greater context of unity. If we hold them as metaphysical, absolute truths then differences of expression become sources of conflict: who’s right and who’s wrong. And of course this is the history of religious dialogues for thousands of years, and we see it played out in the world today in tremendous conflict. So I think there’s another way of holding all this that makes for more unity, and greater pragmatism, in terms of our own deepening understanding.
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/02/bg ... -practice/


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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby starter » Sun Mar 23, 2014 7:56 pm

mikenz66 wrote:The Buddha certainly spoke against useless views and speculation on things not conducive to the path:
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading away, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsessions with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html




Hi Mike,

Thanks for your input. I believe that the above-quoted teaching applies to "Master Gotama", the Tathagata and other arahants. To my understanding, learners (sekhas) must get fixated on right views in order to reach the other shore, and then they can discard all views (the raft).

The way the "judgment" was used in the following sentence leaves me the impression that judgment/view is the unwholesome quality in the same group as greed and ill-will (which I don't agree), opposite to the wholesome qualities of love ...":

"What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding.

I tend to prefer to mention only the contents, not the names. As soon as the names get mentioned, then it becomes kinds of personal, which I don't feel as comfortable. But I appreciate very much your comments.

Thanks and metta!

Starter

PS: I'll not browse the forum for a short while and please excuse me if I can't respond quickly to some comments.
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby Virgo » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:11 pm

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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby culaavuso » Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:34 pm

starter wrote:judgement" belongs to Right Effort. As I understand from the suttas, the Buddha taught us to always apply judgment to distinguish the wholesome/unwholesome, the rewards/drawbacks, and the beneficial/un-beneficial, in order to avoid/abandon the unwholesome and to arouse/develop the wholesome


It depends what exactly is meant by "judgement". The kind of judgement that is useful to abandon is discussed in the essay Judicious vs. Judgemental by Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

Ven. Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Being judgmental is basically an effort to get rid of something we don't understand and probably don't want to understand. We see something we don't like and we try to dismiss it, to stamp it out without taking the time to understand it. We're impatient. Whatever we're being judgmental about, we just want to get rid of it quickly.

Being judicious, however, requires patience together with understanding. A judicious choice is one you've made after understanding all the options, all the sides of a question. That way your choice is based on knowledge, not on greed, aversion, or delusion.


Using those definitions, abandoning judgement in the sense of being judgemental is an important part of developing the path. However, judgement in the sense of being judicious is critical to properly develop the path.
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Mar 23, 2014 10:47 pm

starter wrote:The way the "judgment" was used in the following sentence leaves me the impression that judgment/view is the unwholesome quality in the same group as greed and ill-will (which I don't agree), opposite to the wholesome qualities of love ...":

"What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding.

Well, that's why it's important to have context, which is why I quoted more of the interview. Since it's an interview, not a scholarly discourse, I wouldn't try to read too much into one single word in one sentence, spoken spontaneously. But it seems clear that it is talking about "being judgemental", as culaavuso notes, not "exercising judgement" or "being judicious".

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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby pegembara » Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:25 am

mikenz66 wrote:The Buddha certainly spoke against useless views and speculation on things not conducive to the path:
"Does Master Gotama have any position at all?"

"A 'position,' Vaccha, is something that a Tathagata has done away with. What a Tathagata sees is this: 'Such is form, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is feeling, such its origination, such its disappearance; such is perception...such are fabrications...such is consciousness, such its origination, such its disappearance.' Because of this, I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading away, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsessions with conceit — is, through lack of clinging/sustenance, released."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

And, even in terms of mundane existence, it is good advice to not jump to conclusions, and not to judge things that we don't fully understand.

It's also worth looking at the whole context of the interview with Joseph Goldstein:
Joseph: ... We have many students in the Vipassana insight practices who also study with Zen masters, they study with Tibetan teachers and the reverse. So it’s interesting just to watch that happening. I think it’s most helpful when it’s held in a spirit of good old American pragmatism, which means we don’t get fixated on, or attached to, views ;but, we really begin to look at our practice, and our minds, and the discipline of meditation, and to see what works.

Vince: What works, right.

Joseph: What works to free our minds from the habits I mentioned earlier that cause suffering. What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding. And when I saw that, when I saw that the teachings were not so much expressions of metaphysical truths, but that they were really skillful means to liberate the mind, then it became much easier to hold differences of approach in the greater context of unity. If we hold them as metaphysical, absolute truths then differences of expression become sources of conflict: who’s right and who’s wrong. And of course this is the history of religious dialogues for thousands of years, and we see it played out in the world today in tremendous conflict. So I think there’s another way of holding all this that makes for more unity, and greater pragmatism, in terms of our own deepening understanding.
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/02/bg ... -practice/


:anjali:
Mike


The only valid judgement to make is whether the thing under consideration leads to suffering or not ie. judging in terms of the 4NT. Taking heroin is bad is valid. Some religion breeds terrorist, not so.
And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:11 am

mikenz66 wrote: But it seems clear that it is talking about "being judgemental", as culaavuso notes, not "exercising judgement" or "being judicious".


I think it's an essential distinction. "Judgement" often has pejorative associations, but is in fact a neutral word. "Discernment" probably gives a better feel.
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby starter » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:05 am

Hello Friends,

Many thanks for your interesting comments. I surely agree we should be judicious, and not judgmental.

As to the meaning of "judgment" in the above-quoted interview, I got the impression that the point of the interview is not to judge whether the different teachings/approaches of different masters (Zen, Tibetan, ...) are right or wrong, but to practice and see "what works" to "liberate the mind":

mikenz66 wrote:
Joseph: ... We have many students in the Vipassana insight practices who also study with Zen masters, they study with Tibetan teachers and the reverse. So it’s interesting just to watch that happening. I think it’s most helpful when it’s held in a spirit of good old American pragmatism, which means we don’t get fixated on, or attached to, views ;but, we really begin to look at our practice, and our minds, and the discipline of meditation, and to see what works.

Vince: What works, right.

Joseph: What works to free our minds from the habits I mentioned earlier that cause suffering. What works to free our minds from greed, from ill-will, and judgment and fear; and, what works to develop the wholesome qualities of love, and compassion, and understanding. And when I saw that, when I saw that the teachings were not so much expressions of metaphysical truths, but that they were really skillful means to liberate the mind, then it became much easier to hold differences of approach in the greater context of unity. If we hold them as metaphysical, absolute truths then differences of expression become sources of conflict: who’s right and who’s wrong. And of course this is the history of religious dialogues for thousands of years, and we see it played out in the world today in tremendous conflict. So I think there’s another way of holding all this that makes for more unity, and greater pragmatism, in terms of our own deepening understanding.
http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/02/bg ... -practice/
Mike


To my understanding, this is the typical view/approach of "One Dharma", which explores "the creation of an integrated framework for the Theravada, Tibetan and Zen traditions".

My instinct tells me that this does not seem to be in accordance with the Buddha's teaching:

Āṇi Sutta:

"In future time, there will be bhikkhus who will not listen to the utterance of such discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, they will not lend ear, they will not apply their mind on knowledge, they will not consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.

On the contrary, they will listen to the utterance of such discourses which are literary compositions made by poets, witty words, witty letters, by people from outside, or the words of disciples, they will lend ear, they will apply their mind on knowledge, they will consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.

[b]Thus, bhikkhus, the discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, will disappear.

Therefore, bhikkhus, you should train thus: 'We will listen to the utterance of such discourses which are words of the Tathāgata, profound, profound in meaning, leading beyond the world, (consistently) connected with emptiness, we will lend ear, we will apply our mind on knowledge, we will consider those teachings as to be taken up and mastered.' This is how, bhikkhus, you should train yourselves.
[/b]

I'm afraid that such "one Dhamma" approach would mislead the beginners and those who haven't found the Buddha's path, and would even lead to the future disappearance of THE Dhamma. I believe that only THE Dhamma can truly work to liberate the mind; any other teaching available now can NOT "work to liberate the mind" due to their "identity view", although some of them could help the practitioners to become better humans and celestial beings.

Metta to all!
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Re: Freeing our minds from judgment: Right Effort, or not?

Postby starter » Sun Mar 30, 2014 3:27 pm

Greetings!

I happened to hear MN 11 today, which is relevant to the discussion:

"Bhikkhus, only here is there a recluse, only here a second recluse, only here a third recluse, only here a fourth recluse. The doctrines of others are devoid of recluses: that is how you should rightly roar your lion’s roar."
...

Bhikkhus, there are these two views: the view of being and the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmins who rely on the view of being, adopt the view of being, accept the view of being, are opposed to the view of non-being. Any recluses or brahmins who rely on the view of non-being, adopt the view of non-being, accept the view of non-being, are opposed to the view of being.
...

Bhikkhus, there are these four kinds of clinging. What four? Clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, clinging to rules and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self.

Though certain recluses and brahmins claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging, they do not completely describe the full understanding of all kinds of clinging. They describe the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures without describing the full understanding of clinging to views, clinging to rules and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self. Why is that? Those good recluses and brahmins do not understand these three instances of clinging as they actually are. Therefore, though they claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging, they describe only the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures without describing the full understanding of clinging to views, clinging to rules and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self.

“Though certain recluses and brahmins claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging…they describe the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures and clinging to views without describing the full understanding of clinging to rules and observances and clinging to a doctrine of self. Why is that? They do not understand two instances…therefore they describe only the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures and clinging to views without describing the full understanding of clinging to rules and observances and clinging to a doctrine of self.

“Though certain recluses and brahmins claim to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging…they describe the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self. They do not understand one instance…therefore they describe only the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, and clinging to rules and observances without describing the full understanding of clinging to a doctrine of self.

“Bhikkhus, in such a Dhamma and Discipline as that, it is plain that confidence in the Teacher is not rightly directed, that confidence in the Dhamma is not rightly directed, that fulfilment of the precepts is not rightly directed, and that the affection among companions in the Dhamma is not rightly directed. Why is that? Because that is how it is when the Dhamma and Discipline is badly proclaimed and badly expounded, unemancipating, unconducive to peace, expounded by one who is not fully enlightened.

“Bhikkhus, when a Tathāgata, accomplished and fully enlightened, claims to propound the full understanding of all kinds of clinging, he completely describes the full understanding of all kinds of clinging: he describes the full understanding of clinging to sensual pleasures, clinging to views, clinging to rules and observances, and clinging to a doctrine of self.

“Bhikkhus, in such a Dhamma and Discipline as that, it is plain that confidence in the Teacher is rightly directed, that confidence in the Dhamma is rightly directed, that fulfilment of the precepts is rightly directed, and that the affection among companions in the Dhamma is rightly directed. Why is that? Because that is how it is when the Dhamma and Discipline is well proclaimed and well expounded, emancipating, conducive to peace, expounded by one who is fully enlightened.

Metta to all!
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