A non-judgmental attitude?

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A non-judgmental attitude?

Postby alfa » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:21 am

Hi,

In Buddhism, must we be completely non-judgmental? Let's say a person has an explosive temper, and he knows it's bad for his health, bad for people around him, and so on. Only if he condemns it, he'll be able to change it. If he adopts a non-judgmental attitude, would he have the desire to change?

So I am wondering what we must do when confronted with anger, lust etc.. If we judge, we have a problem. If we do not judge, we have a problem. What must be done?

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Re: A non-judgmental attitude?

Postby Ben » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:51 am

alfa wrote:Hi,

In Buddhism, must we be completely non-judgmental?
I'm not sure what you mean here. One can be completely non-judgemental yet perceived as judgemental by another. I think non-judgementalism is a product of practice. But it doesn't mean that one who has engaged with the practice should not make a stand on this or that important issue.


alfa wrote:Let's say a person has an explosive temper, and he knows it's bad for his health, bad for people around him, and so on. Only if he condemns it, he'll be able to change it. If he adopts a non-judgmental attitude, would he have the desire to change?
One can condemn a bad temper all they like, but unless one eradicates the root condition for the temper to manifest, then one will still have the bad temper. Adopting a non-judgemental attitude can be as effective as window-dressing.

alfa wrote:So I am wondering what we must do when confronted with anger, lust etc.. If we judge, we have a problem. If we do not judge, we have a problem. What must be done?
Practice sila (morality), develop sammasamadhi (concentration/self mastery) and develop panna (wisdom/insight). This is what must be done.
kind regards

Ben

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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
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Re: A non-judgmental attitude?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Apr 04, 2011 11:33 am

“Condemnation” sounds like anger and aversion to me. Laying more aversion on top of anger won't help.

“Discernment, discrimination, judgement” are aspects of wisdom. Whether it is discerned in oneself, or in others, anger and aversion are blameworthy, but we should blame the mental state, not the person.

Likewise with lust, delusion, pride, conceit, or other unwholesome mental states. To remove them, first we need to be aware of them, then we need to know that they are harmful and blameworthy.

They all arise from causes. The causes need to be identified and understood, only then can these mental defilements be removed. We cannot remove the mental defilements of others, only our own.

If we can keep our equanimity, when others are losing theirs, we will not get angry so much, and others will be calmed by our presence or kind words.

For more on blame and criticism, see the Venerable Ledi Sayādaw's Dhamma Dīpanī.

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Re: A non-judgmental attitude?

Postby Nibbida » Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:12 pm

alfa wrote:Hi,

In Buddhism, must we be completely non-judgmental? Let's say a person has an explosive temper, and he knows it's bad for his health, bad for people around him, and so on. Only if he condemns it, he'll be able to change it. If he adopts a non-judgmental attitude, would he have the desire to change?

So I am wondering what we must do when confronted with anger, lust etc.. If we judge, we have a problem. If we do not judge, we have a problem. What must be done?

Alfa


This is a good question and a fine point that is often misunderstood in Buddhism. "Non-judgmental" is the term that has become popular in English to mean "equanimity." Having equanimity with anger does not mean that one doesn't act to change their behavior. In fact mindfulness and equanimity are a viable alternative to acting on aggression. When the anger arises, one watches the thoughts and emotions as they arise, change, and pass. One allows these to come and go unimpeded, without judging or condemning them, but also not feeding into them, treating them as reality or self. Instead they are observed as passing events, e.g. "Anger is occurring," instead of "I am angry."

A person reflects on the anger, seeing whether feeding into it is skillful, whether it would cause benefit or harm to oneself and others. Whatever one dwells on becomes the inclination of the mind. So not only is it harmful now, it eventually reinforces the habit. If a person is preoccupied rejecting and condemns oneself and/or these internal experiences, one doesn't get to watch closely and observe the harmful effects. In observing these harmful effects, one can make a compassionate decision, compassionate for oneself and others, to think and act differently, to find more skillful alternatives.

The non-judgmental attitude, equanimity, is with the internal experience one has. One can do that and still make appropriate to make changes in behavior. Judgment, in the sense of moralistic condemnation, is beside the point.

Also see Gil Fronsdal's "Working With Anger" on p. 72:
http://www.insightmeditationcenter.org/documents/iah/IssueAtHand4thEd.pdf
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Re: A non-judgmental attitude?

Postby nameless » Tue Apr 05, 2011 1:55 pm

Only if he condemns it, he'll be able to change it.


I assume that lots of people have the experience of condemning something, then attempting to change it. But a few things need to be examined:

If you don't condemn something, does that mean you can't then change it?
If a child does something wrong, do you need to condemn the child to make it change? Do you have to scold or hit it? You can, and it might work. But it doesn't mean that gentle words and speaking sense won't change the child better.

If you do condemn something, does that mean you will be successful in changing it?
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