judgment-free awareness

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

judgment-free awareness

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:57 am

The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah STILL FOREST POOL

Patiently allowing utterly frustrating dilemmas to be present in our here-and-now, judgment-free awareness – this is the path of purification.” -- Ajahn Munindo
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Ben » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:30 am

Thanks Tilt.
Important to remember.
kind regards,

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Learn this from the waters:
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sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:11 am

Greetings,

Which component(s) of the Noble Eightfold Path does "judgment-free awareness" correlate to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:10 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Which component(s) of the Noble Eightfold Path does "judgment-free awareness" correlate to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
The same as the Buddha's instructions to Bahiya.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:29 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Patiently allowing utterly frustrating dilemmas to be present in our here-and-now, judgment-free awareness – this is the path of purification.” -- Ajahn Munindo


I've found full acceptance of the present to be a useful approach, but is it negating Right Effort? Is it saying just continually accept all the negative mind states without any effort to develop positive mind states? Or is it saying the distinction between negative and positive mind states is itself redundant?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby kirk5a » Sat Aug 31, 2013 1:56 pm

Not that I'm suggesting the above quotations contradict the following, but it is also not entirely obvious how they fulfill the following.

[Ven. Ananda] But he does know this: 'All those who have been led, are being led, or will be led [to release] from the cosmos have done so, are doing so, or will do so after having abandoned the five hindrances — those defilements of awareness that weaken discernment — having well-established[1] their minds in the four frames of reference, and having developed, as they have come to be, the seven factors for Awakening.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Dan74 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:04 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Patiently allowing utterly frustrating dilemmas to be present in our here-and-now, judgment-free awareness – this is the path of purification.” -- Ajahn Munindo


I've found full acceptance of the present to be a useful approach, but is it negating Right Effort? Is it saying just continually accept all the negative mind states without any effort to develop positive mind states? Or is it saying the distinction between negative and positive mind states is itself redundant?


A big problem with negative mind states, I feel, is our clinging to one part of them and our aversion to another. If we are able to follow Ajahn Chah's advice there won't be anything to motivate negative mind states, I think. They have no reality apart from what we give them.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Samma » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:42 pm

Just that simple we should all go zen and just sit. :sage:

And what is the disappearance of form… of feeling… of perception… of fabrications… of consciousness? There is the case where one does not relish, welcome or remain fastened. To what? One does not relish form, welcome it, or remain fastened to it. While one is not relishing form, welcoming it, or remaining fastened to it, one’s delight in form ceases. From the cessation of that delight, clinging ceases. SN 22:5
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:33 pm

Greetings,

retrofuturist wrote:Which component(s) of the Noble Eightfold Path does "judgment-free awareness" correlate to?

tiltbillings wrote:The same as the Buddha's instructions to Bahiya.

Thanks Tilt.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Sylvester » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:18 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:Patiently allowing utterly frustrating dilemmas to be present in our here-and-now, judgment-free awareness – this is the path of purification.” -- Ajahn Munindo


I've found full acceptance of the present to be a useful approach, but is it negating Right Effort? Is it saying just continually accept all the negative mind states without any effort to develop positive mind states? Or is it saying the distinction between negative and positive mind states is itself redundant?



This is an important question, as evidenced by BB's memoir (cited here - viewtopic.php?f=41&t=13538&start=60#p201834) that his early encounter with judgment-free awareness in a vipassana retreat almost made him an indignant graffiti artist. BB wondered how judgment-free awareness would fit in with the sutta pericope associated with Right Effort, eg -

There is the case where a monk doesn't acquiesce to an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, wipes it out of existence etc etc

using Ven T's translation of the pericope



MN 2 explains this under the 6th limb as follows -

And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying (vinodanā)? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence.

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful mental qualities. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to destroy these things do not arise for him when he destroys them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Note how Ven T's translation of vinodanā is so martial, almost violent, compared to the cuddlier translation by BB as "removal".

So how does one destroy/dispel/remove the hindrances? According to MN 19, only with the intention of renunciation, non-ill will and harmlessness. To get a sense of the gentleness involved, take a look at the series around AN 4.164, where this effort is lumped under samā paṭipadā. Ven T translates this as "even practice", while BB renders it as "calming practice". The word sama is derived from the same root śam that gives us samatha.

How one approaches Right Effort can be easily affected by which translation informs our practice - a very martial-like and confrontational approach, or a gentler one based on investigation.

So, I don't think judgment-free awareness requires us to abrogate the distinction between wholesome and unwholesome mind-states. That is the purported function of dhammavicaya that is supposed to discriminate between different states. But, note this, dhammavicaya according to MN 118 is supposed to be performed paññaya (with wisdom). And what conveniently falls into the Wisdom Aggregate, according to MN 44? Just Right View and Right Intention.

IMO, Right Effort describes the motivation/desire, but Right Intention is the "how" to execute the motivation. Judgment-free awareness is a very powerful expression of Right Intention, especially in ensuring that the 2 anusayas of lust and aversion of kept at bay.
Last edited by Sylvester on Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:54 am

Sylvester wrote:So how does one destroy/dispel/remove the hindrances? According to MN 19, only with the intention of renunciation, non-ill will and harmlessness. To get a sense of the gentleness involved, take a look at the series around AN 4.164, where this effort is lumped under samā paṭipadā. Ven T translates this as "even practice", while BB renders it as "calming practice". The word sama is derived from the same root śam that gives us samatha.

How one approaches Right Effort can be easily affected by which translation informs our practice - a very martial-like and confrontational approach, or a gentler one based on investigation.


Yes, interesting. With regard to Right Effort I think you could look at this in terms of emphasis, ie focussing on developing wholesome states of mind rather than focussing on "getting rid of" unwholesome states of mind.
And similarly I think samatha can be regarded negatively as removing hindrances and positively as developing tranquillity. I was looking at this sutta a while back, it appears early in the Chapter of the Twos in the Anguttara Nikaya and describes samatha both in terms of developing the mind and abandoning lust:

Tranquillity and Insight
Two things, O monks, partake of supreme knowledge. What two? Tranquillity and insight.
If tranquillity is developed, what benefit does it bring? The mind becomes developed. And
what is the benefit of a developed mind? All lust is abandoned.
If insight is developed, what benefit does it bring? Wisdom becomes developed. And what is
the benefit of developed wisdom? All ignorance is abandoned.
A mind defiled by lust is not freed; and wisdom defiled by ignorance cannot develop. Thus,
monks, through the fading away of lust there is liberation of mind; and through the fading away
of ignorance there is liberation by wisdom.

(2:2.10)
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby bodom » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:41 pm

In Dancing with Life, Phillip Moffitt writes:

“Right effort is directing your attention so that you are not helplessly caught in the various mind states that arise. The Buddha describes four kinds of wise effort: avoiding unhealthy mind states; abandoning unhealthy mind states once they have arisen; moving the mind to healthy mind states; and maintaing the mind on healthy mind states that have already arisen.

“Attention is a function of the mind and is subject to training, although it often seems as if this is not so. However, energy follows attention, therefore whatever you place your attention on is what will receive energy in your life.

“Right effort is classically associated with working with your mind in meditation, but it also applies to working with your mind states in daily life. If you have a choice, you do not place your attention on thoughts that do not serve you, and you move away from thoughts that are obsessive, contracting, and limiting. Practicing these two forms of right effort doesn’t mean that you should seek to never have difficult thoughts; it just means that you shouldn’t stay stuck on them…

“Instead you would move your attention from identifying with the terrible thoughts to the suffering that is contained in the thoughts, which in turn will give rise to compassion and give you clarity to see how you are getting caught in whatever hurt you….

“Instead of being caught in reactive mind, you are able to accept that life includes such difficulty, i.e., ‘Betrayal feels like this.’ Do you see how this is right effort? Your external conditions and your emotional experience are no different, but you are no longer being defined by your emotional reaction. Amazingly, right effort really does work this way; it is not just some abstract idea.”


http://dharmatown.org/4261/wise-effort/

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:46 pm

Good quote by Ajahn Chah. It needs to be understood in context because it can easily be misinterpreted. Ajahn Brahm gave a similar teaching one day at his center. A father and his son were attending the talk. The next day the father asked his son to take the garbage out or some other simple task. The son replied, "I am only in judgment-free awareness, in the present." When asked about his homework or any other task, the son replied the same. So the father went to Ajahn Brahm and the next week Ajahn Brahm had to give another talk on the same subject, with explanations similar to above, to put it in context and not as an excuse to do nothing.

As the story goes from the Commentaries, Bahiya had cultivation and aspiration from prior lifetimes and did not actually attain enlightenment in just those five minutes.

And then there is this from the Buddha:

"Though my skin, my nerves and my bones shall waste away and my life blood go dry, I will not leave this seat until I have attained the highest wisdom, called supreme enlightenment, that leads to everlasting happiness." (Majjhima Nikaya 70)

"The person who wears a robe made of rags, who is lean, with veins showing all over the body, and who meditates alone in the forest him do I call a holy man" (Dhammapada 395).
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby ohnofabrications » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:02 pm

so heres the controvery basically:

does one keep the battle away from oneself? (not tolerating defilement approach)

or does one keep oneself away from the battle? (radical acceptance approach)

please pick whichever metaphor you prefer but don't allow this speculation as to which is the "True" way to be a safe place for your defilement.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby pegembara » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:20 am

Sati without sampajanna is only half the equation.

There is nothing more valuable than a controlled and skillfully directed mind. To tame one's mind does not happen only in meditation, that is just one specific training. It can be likened to learning to play tennis. One works out with a trainer, again and again, until one has found one's balance and aptitude, and can actually play in a tennis match. Our match for taming the mind happens in day-to-day living, in all situations we encounter.

The greatest support we can have is mindfulness, which means being totally present in each moment. If the mind remains centered then it can't make up stories about the injustice of the world or one's friends, or about one's desires, or one's lamentations. All these mind-made stories would fill many volumes, but we are mindful such verbalizations stop. "Mindful" is being fully absorbed in the moment, leaving no room for anything else. We are filled with the momentary happening, whether that may be standing or sitting or lying down, being comfortable or uncomfortable, feeling pleasant or unpleasant. Whichever it may be, it is a non-judgmental awareness, "knowing only," without evaluation.

Clear comprehension brings evaluation. We comprehend the purpose of our thought, speech or action, whether we are using skillful means or not and whether we have actually achieved the required results. One needs some distance to oneself in order to be able to evaluate dispassionately. If one is right in the middle, it's very difficult to get an objective view. Mindfulness coupled with clear comprehension provides one with the necessary distance, the objectivity, the dispassion.

Ayya Khema


Usually when people talk about “being in the moment” they’re talking about sati.
Sati is knowing what is going on in our experience right now, and we need to know this in order to be able to make any meaningful changes. If you don’t know where you are, how can you get to where you want to go?

Sampajañña is the aspect of mindfulness that extends over a period of time. It includes an awareness of purpose (where we want to go), and an awareness of where we’ve already been. So you may sit down to meditate and be aware that you need to cultivate lovingkindness. When you do that you’re developing a sense of where you want to go. This is rather different from what people think of when they think of mindfulness as “being in the moment” and “letting go of the past and future.” Sampajañña allows us to mindfully think about the future. Having decided where we want to go, we then check in with ourselves from time to time during the meditation. This is employing sati to see what’s going on. Sampanañña compares where we are with where we want to go — in this case evaluating “am I making progress in cultivating lovingkindness?”

Sampajañña also looks backwards in time. When you’re recalling your day and thinking about how things went, it’s possible to do this in a mindful way. Rather than the mind simply getting lost in thoughts about the past we’re consciously and mindfully recalling events. We can remind ourselves of our successes and analyze our lapses. Again, this is very different from what a crude understanding of “being in the moment” might suggest. With sampajañña we can bring the past — mindfully — into the moment. We can be in the moment and thinking about the past. Sampajañña is wisdom in action.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:38 am

pegembara wrote:Sati without sampajanna is only half the equation. . . .
Your point with these quotes is?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:56 am

ohnofabrications wrote:does one keep the battle away from oneself? (not tolerating defilement approach)
or does one keep oneself away from the battle? (radical acceptance approach)


The Satipatthana Sutta seems to say that we should be mindful of whatever arises, good, bad and indifferent - feelings, mind-states etc. The question is what we do then. Presumably this involves not indulging in unwholesome states of mind, and developing wholesome states of mind, as for example with the 7 factors of enlightenment?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:59 am

tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Which component(s) of the Noble Eightfold Path does "judgment-free awareness" correlate to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
The same as the Buddha's instructions to Bahiya.


Actually, isn't it just describing an approach to mindfulness?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby tiltbillings » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:00 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
tiltbillings wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

Which component(s) of the Noble Eightfold Path does "judgment-free awareness" correlate to?

Metta,
Retro. :)
The same as the Buddha's instructions to Bahiya.


Actually, isn't it just describing an approach to mindfulness?
I always thought so.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby pegembara » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
pegembara wrote:Sati without sampajanna is only half the equation. . . .
Your point with these quotes is?


Judgement free awareness would be like blissing out under the Bodhi tree and sampajanna would be thinking, "Who can I benefit benefit from this discovery?"
Judgement free awareness would be like walking into the path of a raging cow and getting gored. With sampajanna one can avoid such problems.

It is not enough to just see, hear, smell etc. See David's comment.
Don't forget the active component.
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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