Fairness

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Kim OHara
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Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:27 am

One of my guiding principles is the 'Golden Rule', i.e. treat others as you would hope that they treat you, or (more simply) fairness. It has a respectable pedigree in every ethical system I know, including Buddhism, but it looks like it goes way deeper than that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8mynrRd7Ak.
Your thoughts?

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Re: Fairness

Postby polarbuddha101 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:56 am

It makes sense that social animals such as humans, other social primates, wolves, etc. would want to be treated fairly (or better than everyone else) and that compassion would evolve as a group solidarity mechanism allowing for greater survival rates among cooperative species. Overall, I think the golden rule is of great use in developing virtue and in restraining oneself from doing things worthy of blame.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: Fairness

Postby cooran » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:14 am

Very Interesting.
Though there did not seem to be any compassion in the interaction i,e, the better treated monkey didn't hand over any of his grapes - no compassion or mateship, and the more poorly treated monkey experienced just tanha and dosa.

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Re: Fairness

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:27 pm

I wonder what would happen if it was a harder job to get the grape? or if they swapped the grape -> cucumber and leaving the cucumber -> cucumber at any point?

I know I have grumbled about getting unequal pay for the same job as another, but when the others job was harder or more skilled there was a balance of equality in my mind.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Sun Dec 02, 2012 4:41 am

Don't the Buddha's teachings on conceit contradict ideals like "fairness" and "equality"?

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Re: Fairness

Postby cooran » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:47 am

Can you give us the Sutta quotes and references please?
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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:04 am

cooran wrote:Can you give us the Sutta quotes and references please?


Whoever construes 'equal,' 'superior,' or 'inferior,' by that he'd dispute; whereas to one unaffected by these three, 'equal,' 'superior,' do not occur. Of what would the brahman say 'true' or 'false,' disputing with whom: he in whom 'equal,' 'unequal' are not.

Magandiya Sutta (Sutta Nipata 4.9)

[At Veluvana So.na the householder's son approached the Blessed One. The Buddha said:] "Whatever recluses and Brahmans, So.na, hold views about the body, which is impermanent, unsatisfactory and subject to change, such as 'I am better [than you],' 'I am equal [to you],' or 'I am worse [than you]' [likewise 'feeling,' 'perception,' 'mental formations,' 'consciousness'], what else are they but folk who do not see things as they really are?

"But, So.na, whatever recluses and Brahmans do not hold such views... What else are they but those who see things as they really are?"

So.no Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 22.49)

Equanimous — always — mindful, he doesn't conceive himself as equal, superior, inferior, in the world. No swellings of pride are his.... His greed gone, not miserly, the sage doesn't speak of himself as among those who are higher, equal, or lower.

Purabheda Sutta (Sutta Nipata 4.10)

Whoever construes 'equal,' 'superior,' or 'inferior,' by that he'd dispute. Whereas to one unaffected by these three, 'equal' 'superior' do not occur.*

*Bhikkhu Bodhi's Note: The "three discriminations" (tayo vidha) are the three modes of conceit: the conceit "I am better" (seyyo 'ham asmimana), and the conceit, "I am equal" (sadiso 'ham asmimana), and the conceit "I am worse" (hino 'ham asmimana).... At Vibhanga 389-90 is is shown that these three become ninefold in so far as each triad may be entertained by one who is truly better, truly equal, or truly worse. One "not shaken in the three discriminations" is the arhant, who alone has completely eradicated the fetter of conceit....

Samiddhi Sutta (Samyutta Nikaya 1.20)

So a monk shouldn't be dependent on what's seen, heard, or sensed, or on precepts & practices; nor should he conjure a view in the world in connection with knowledge or precepts & practices; shouldn't take himself to be "equal"; shouldn't think himself inferior or superlative.

Paramatthaka Sutta (Sutta Nipata 4.5)

Now, one who is cleansed has no preconceived view about states of becoming or not- anywhere in the world. Having abandoned conceit* & illusion, by what means would he go? He isn't involved.

*Thanissaro's Note: The Maha Niddesa (Nd.I) explains a variety of ways of understanding the word "conceit," the most comprehensive being a list of nine kinds of conceit: viewing people better than oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself; viewing people on a par with oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself; viewing people worse than oneself as worse than oneself, on a par with oneself, or better than oneself. In other words, the truth of the view is not the issue here; the issue is the tendency to compare oneself with others.

Dutthatthaka Sutta (Sutta Nipata 4.3)

Bhikkhus, there are these three discriminations. What three? The discrimination 'I am superior,' the discrimination 'I am equal,' the discrimination 'I am inferior.' These are the three discriminations. The Noble Eightfold Path is to be developed for direct knowledge of these three discriminations, for the full understanding of them, for their utter destruction, for their abandoning.

Samyutta Nikaya 45:162 (Bhikkhu Bodhi Tr.)

Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics or brahmins in the past abandonded the three discriminations, all did so because they had developed the seven factors of enlightenment.

Samyutta Nikaya 46:41 (Bhikkhu Bodhi Tr.)

Conceit occurs in the mode of self-evaluation, i.e., of taking oneself to be superior, equal, or inferior to others.

Abhidhammattha Sangaha: A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, p. 96
Last edited by danieLion on Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Fairness

Postby DAWN » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:26 am

It's difficult to see when peoples are unfair with each others. :?
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:59 am

Hi, DanieLion,
That's a very impressive collection of sutta quotes :bow: but I don't see that any of them 'contradict' fairness or equality. They don't say 'treat others as inferiors/superiors/equals', they merely say 'don't get caught up in comparisons'. They are, as you said, teachings against conceit.
If you wanted to show the Golden Rule is inconsistent with the dhamma, I think you need to try again ... but I think it will be quite difficult.

:thinking:
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Re: Fairness

Postby daverupa » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:58 pm

I think the positive formulation of the Golden Rule is relatively bankrupt, as far as guidance goes:

"Do to others as you would have done to you."

Compare with the negative formulation:

"Do not do to others if you would not have such done to you."

The first version allows for a proactive - even forceful - imposition of value, while the latter is marked by restraint.

---

With respect to the Dhamma, I think we can even go one better:

SN 47.19 wrote:"And how does one, when watching after oneself, watch after others? Through pursuing [the practice], through developing it, through devoting oneself to it. This is how one, when watching after oneself, watches after others.

"And how does one, when watching after others, watch after oneself? Through endurance, through harmlessness, and through a mind of kindness & sympathy. This is how one, when watching after others, watches after oneself.


Fairness, in this context, can reflect equanimity in the face of human diversity. From this position, one can inquire about the needs of any other with friendliness and care.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:51 pm

:goodpost:
... although I don't really see as much difference between the positive and negative formulations of the Golden Rule as you do.

:namaste:
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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:59 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:They don't say 'treat others as inferiors/superiors/equals', they merely say 'don't get caught up in comparisons'.
They say don't treat others as inferior, superior, or equal. You can't asses "equality" or "fairness" without comparison. The Golden Rule is inspiring, yes, but implies we can know other minds to our ethically pragmatic advantage. The Buddha's teachings on the threefold conceit or discriminations are better than the Golden rule because they dispel the idealism of "fairness" by instructing us to examine our unrealistic beliefs in "equality". The Golden Rule doesn't address the pride (conceit) that follows from believing "fairness" is universally accepted as the same thing in all minds.

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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:00 am

:goodpost:
daverupa wrote:I think the positive formulation of the Golden Rule is relatively bankrupt, as far as guidance goes:

"Do to others as you would have done to you."

Compare with the negative formulation:

"Do not do to others if you would not have such done to you."

The first version allows for a proactive - even forceful - imposition of value, while the latter is marked by restraint.

---

With respect to the Dhamma, I think we can even go one better:

SN 47.19 wrote:"And how does one, when watching after oneself, watch after others? Through pursuing [the practice], through developing it, through devoting oneself to it. This is how one, when watching after oneself, watches after others.

"And how does one, when watching after others, watch after oneself? Through endurance, through harmlessness, and through a mind of kindness & sympathy. This is how one, when watching after others, watches after oneself.


Fairness, in this context, can reflect equanimity in the face of human diversity. From this position, one can inquire about the needs of any other with friendliness and care.

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Re: Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:21 am

danieLion wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:They don't say 'treat others as inferiors/superiors/equals', they merely say 'don't get caught up in comparisons'.
They say don't treat others as inferior, superior, or equal. You can't asses "equality" or "fairness" without comparison. The Golden Rule is inspiring, yes, but implies we can know other minds to our ethically pragmatic advantage. The Buddha's teachings on the threefold conceit or discriminations are better than the Golden rule because they dispel the idealism of "fairness" by instructing us to examine our unrealistic beliefs in "equality". The Golden Rule doesn't address the pride (conceit) that follows from believing "fairness" is universally accepted as the same thing in all minds.

DanieLion,
I think you're arguing for the sake of arguing. I'm not going to.

:namaste:
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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:59 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I think you're arguing for the sake of arguing. I'm not going to.

This a slippery slope to accusing me of Trolling, which I dislike strongly.

I'm not arguing. I'm discussing.

Look at it from a corroborating angle. "Fairness" and "equality" are forms of conceit by virtue of their relationship to the defilements of delusion and hate.

David D. Burns wrote:The perception of unfairness or injustice is the ultimate cause of most, if not all, anger. In fact, we could define anger as the emotion which corresponds in a one-to-one manner to your belief that you are being treated unfairly.

Now we come to a truth you may see either as a bitter pill or an enlightening revelation. There is no such thing as a universally accepted concept of fairness and justice.... "Absolute fairness" does not exist. "'Fairness" is relative to the observer.... Even social rules and moral strictures which are accepted within on culture can vary substantially in another. You can protest that this is not the case and insist that your own personal moral system is universal, but it just ain't so!

When a lion devours a sheep, is this unfair? From the point of view of the sheep, it is unfair; he's being viciously and intentionally murdered with no provocation. From the point of view of the lion, it is fair. He's hungry, and this is the daily bread he feels entitled to. Who is "right"? There is no ultimate or universal answer to this question because there's no "absolute fairness". Fairness is simply a perceptual interpretation, an abstraction, a self-created concept....

Much everyday anger results when we confuse our own personal wants with general moral codes. When you get mad at someone and claim that they are acting "unfairly," more often than not what is really going on is that they are acting "fairly" relative to a set of standards and a frame of reference that differs from yours. Your assumption that they are "being unfair" implies that your way of looking at things is universally accepted. For this to be the case, everyone would have to be the same. But we aren't. We all think differently. When you overlook this and blame the other person for being "unfair" you are unnecessarily polarizing the interaction because the other person will feel insulted and defensive. Then the two of you will argue fruitlessly about who is "right." The whole dispute is based on the illusion of "absolute fairness."

Because of your relativity of fairness, there is a logical fallacy that is inherent in your anger. Although you feel convinced the other guy is acting unfairly, you must realize he is only acting unfairly relative to your value system. But he is operating from his value system, not yours. More often than not, his objectionable action will seem quite fair and reasonable to him. Therefore, from his point of view--which is his only possible basis for action--what he does is "fair."

Feeling Good, pp. 161-162 (Harper: 2009).

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Re: Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:28 am

danieLion wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I think you're arguing for the sake of arguing. I'm not going to.

This a slippery slope to accusing me of Trolling, which I dislike strongly.

I'm not arguing. I'm discussing.

Look at it from a corroborating angle. "Fairness" and "equality" are forms of conceit by virtue of their relationship to the defilements of delusion and hate.

Okay, if you are interested in a genuine discussion I'm willing to participate.
But I have to start by disagreeing with you: fairness and equality are not conceit and have no necessary relationship to conceit. And, going back to your previous post, "pride (conceit)" does not necessarily follow "from believing "fairness" is universally accepted as the same thing in all minds." It seems to me that those two statements could only be made by someone who sees everything through the lens of the self.
Your first post in this thread implicitly proposed (if only as a question) that the Golden Rule was in conflict with the Dhamma. I don't think it is, and I don't think that the teachings on conceit have any real connection to the Golden Rule. If you believe they have, I would like you to show the links that form the connection.

:namaste:
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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:52 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:...going back to your previous post, "pride (conceit)" does not necessarily follow "from believing "fairness" is universally accepted as the same thing in all minds."

That's true. Conceit also relates to believing in superiority and inferiority.
Kim O'Hara wrote:It seems to me that those two statements could only be made by someone who sees everything through the lens of the self.

Conceit is also related to clinging to doctrines of self, so this is likely true too, to the extent that we allow it's probably not everything that's seen through the lense of a self.
Kim O'Hara wrote:Your first post in this thread implicitly proposed (if only as a question) that the Golden Rule was in conflict with the Dhamma. I don't think it is, and I don't think that the teachings on conceit have any real connection to the Golden Rule.

I apologize if I wasn't clear. I'm not sure if the Dhamma and the Golden Rule are in conflict. I hope not. I like the Golden Rule. What I actually think is that "equality" and "fairness" (especially "justice as fairness") are in conflict with the Dhamma--and with the Golden Rule too but in a limited way: the Golden Rule as a propositon can only be asserted by someone who sees at least some things through the lense of the self.

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Re: Fairness

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:40 am

danieLion wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Your first post in this thread implicitly proposed (if only as a question) that the Golden Rule was in conflict with the Dhamma. I don't think it is, and I don't think that the teachings on conceit have any real connection to the Golden Rule.

I apologize if I wasn't clear. I'm not sure if the Dhamma and the Golden Rule are in conflict. I hope not. I like the Golden Rule. What I actually think is that "equality" and "fairness" (especially "justice as fairness") are in conflict with the Dhamma--and with the Golden Rule too but in a limited way: the Golden Rule as a propositon can only be asserted by someone who sees at least some things through the lense of the self.

Ahah! Now I think I see where we parted company.
How are equality, fairness or justice (or all three) in conflict with the dhamma?
I would say they are not. In fact, I would count them as a constant background to the teachings, generally taken for granted.
You, I think, would say (1) that they are inevitably tied to conceit and (2) that conceit is in conflict with the dhamma - and I wouldn't dispute (2) but I would deny (1).
Does that advance the discussion, or have I still misinterpreted you?

:namaste:
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Re: Fairness

Postby DAWN » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:27 pm

Samsara is the most fair 'element'.
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english

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Re: Fairness

Postby danieLion » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:58 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
danieLion wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:Your first post in this thread implicitly proposed (if only as a question) that the Golden Rule was in conflict with the Dhamma. I don't think it is, and I don't think that the teachings on conceit have any real connection to the Golden Rule.

I apologize if I wasn't clear. I'm not sure if the Dhamma and the Golden Rule are in conflict. I hope not. I like the Golden Rule. What I actually think is that "equality" and "fairness" (especially "justice as fairness") are in conflict with the Dhamma--and with the Golden Rule too but in a limited way: the Golden Rule as a propositon can only be asserted by someone who sees at least some things through the lense of the self.

Ahah! Now I think I see where we parted company.
How are equality, fairness or justice (or all three) in conflict with the dhamma?
I would say they are not. In fact, I would count them as a constant background to the teachings, generally taken for granted.
You, I think, would say (1) that they are inevitably tied to conceit and (2) that conceit is in conflict with the dhamma - and I wouldn't dispute (2) but I would deny (1).
Does that advance the discussion, or have I still misinterpreted you?

:namaste:
Kim

You've interpreted me correctly and so accurately I don't know if it advances the discussion because it might indicate we've reached an agree to disagree impasse; plus, I kind of feel :broke: but that could just be tempoary.


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