Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

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Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:53 pm

Is it generally appropriate to try to awaken hiri-ottappa in others through the practice of criticizing their behavior publicly? Personally, I think the answer is no. But I suspect many of us have tried to do this from time to time. Thoughts?
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Ben » Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:40 pm

Hi jechbi

I'm not sure how you'll be able to inspie hiri-ottappa in another by public criticism. You may instead be the vehicle of unwholesome mindstates like resentment and anger. Pouring gasoline on the fire, so to speak. My understanding is that hiri-ottappa arises from engaging in one's practice.
Having said that, if the behaviour of another member has been a concern to you, then perhaps the best course of action would be to express your concerns to the mod/admin team who will look into it.
Kind regards

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

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:09 pm

Thanks, Ben. That's not why I created this thread. No specific concerns, nothing particularly troubling me. I appreciate your asking, though.

From a general discussion standpoint, however, I've observed that sometimes it seems like we try to change others behavior through the process of criticism (I know I've done this sometimes), be it in the workplace, or in the family, or on a discussion board like this. And often our criticism may be accurate. And sometimes it might even help to awaken a more productive self-awareness in another. But like you, I agree that most of time time we're just pouring gas on the fire.

Still, we find ourselves criticising others. So I thought I'd toss it out there for discussion.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:17 pm

Sometimes it's appropriate, sometimes it isn't. Did you expect any other answer? ;)
I suggest reading MN 58 for more on the topic of saying disagreeable things for the benefit of others.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Tue Jul 28, 2009 8:24 pm

Thanks, Peter. Here's a translation from Access to Insight.

Peter wrote:Sometimes it's appropriate, sometimes it isn't. Did you expect any other answer? ;)
No, not really. I'd be interested in hearing more about those times when people feel it is appropriate. What do we hope to accomplish, and are we likely to accomplish it? etc.

One great thing about the sutta you cite is the emphasis on timing. Even if we say something true, if we say it at the wrong time, it's probably not helpful. Your comment, however, is well-timed.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:52 pm

Jechbi wrote:I'd be interested in hearing more about those times when people feel it is appropriate.

I'd say if I thought the person respected my opinion and responded well to criticism, then it can be appropriate.

Keep in mind that public criticism isn't always for the benefit of the one being criticized. In a public forum such as this one often it is for the benefit of those reading and not participating. Those people see what gets criticized and what doesn't and that can be helpful to them.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Pannapetar » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:18 pm

If I understand the Pali terms correctly, they mean (moral) shame and fear. Insofar, the phrase "inspiring fear and shame" is an oxymoron, because that would be the very opposite of inspiration, namely "de-inspiration", instilling, or deterring. Fire and brimstone spring to mind, Avici hell and such. In several Asian countries, including Thailand, there are amusement parks where visitors can find "edification" by walking through life reconstructions of the various narayas (hell realms). I suppose these parks are created with exactly the intention the thread starter had in mind. To be honest, I doubt this sort of thing is effective. In fact, I would go further and say that instilling shame and fear -even if done with good intention- is very likely to be counterproductive and damaging. It sounds more like brainwashing than education. As an instructional method it's a poor choice, except perhaps for reaching the lowest levels of human intuition.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:22 pm

Peter wrote:Keep in mind that public criticism isn't always for the benefit of the one being criticized. In a public forum such as this one often it is for the benefit of those reading and not participating. Those people see what gets criticized and what doesn't and that can be helpful to them.

That's true. It's interesting to consider the possibility that, in the workplace or in a public setting like a shopping center, for example, our criticism of another might become a form of theater we perform on behalf of a perceived benefit to those strangers around us. In that case, the person being criticized becomes a prop.

In the same manner, on a public board like this, is it possible that if we criticize a member, but the intended audience for our criticism is actually those who are reading but not participating, is it possible that the member being criticized then becomes a prop in our performance?
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:30 pm

Hi Thomas,
Pannapetar wrote:... instilling shame and fear -even if done with good intention- is very likely to be counterproductive and damaging.

From the Access to Insight link provided in the OP:
Bhikkhu Bodhi wrote:Hiri is an innate sense of shame over moral transgression; ottappa is moral dread, fear of the results of wrongdoing. The Buddha calls these two states the bright guardians of the world (sukka lokapala). He gives them this designation because as long as these two states prevail in people's hearts the moral standards of the world remain intact, while when their influence wanes the human world falls into unabashed promiscuity and violence, becoming almost indistinguishable from the animal realm (Itiv. 42).
This suggests to me that to the extent we are in a position to infuence how another person might engage with the world, then if we are able to find a skillful way to help them develop these sukka lokapala, that's a good thing for them and good for all of us. Do you see it differently?
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby kc2dpt » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:58 pm

Pannapetar wrote:To be honest, I doubt this sort of thing is effective. In fact, I would go further and say that instilling shame and fear -even if done with good intention- is very likely to be counterproductive and damaging. It sounds more like brainwashing than education. As an instructional method it's a poor choice, except perhaps for reaching the lowest levels of human intuition.

I think this is a narrow-minded view. Some people benefit from external motivators like teaching of heaven and hell. Some people benefit from internal motivators like teaching of stress and peace. This was taught by the Buddha and also by today's psychologists. Perhaps you do not find teachings on heaven and hell beneficial but I think you go to far to say the things you've said above.

I also think it is somewhat insulting and rude. The Buddha taught hiri and otapa to be important and worthwhile. He also instilled shame and fear when he thought it appropriate. You are saying he engaged in brainwashing, that he gave teachings which were counterproductive and damaging, that it was a poor choice. I would think in a Buddhism forum one would show a little more respect to the Buddha.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:18 am

Jechbi wrote:This suggests to me that to the extent we are in a position to infuence how another person might engage with the world, then if we are able to find a skillful way to help them develop these sukka lokapala, that's a good thing for them and good for all of us. Do you see it differently?


Yes, I see this a bit differently. The analogy with the guardians by the Buddha is accurate. The problem is just as it is impossible to conjure "guardians", inspiring fear and shame does generally not cause the desired result. It is psychologically self-defeating. The "guardians" that the Buddha spoke of are -in my understanding- cognitive abilities, or rather the result of the cognitive ability to distinguish skilful (good) from unskilful (bad) behaviour. I don't know much Pali, but perhaps "ottapa" means something like "eschew" rather than fear, anxiety or phobia. It only makes sense to me in that meaning. One would eschew unskilful means. The thing with cognitive abilities in general is that they cannot be developed by fear and shame. That's a misunderstanding. It would be an example for unskilful means. Inspiring fear and shame constructs negative energy circuits that entail aversion and repression.

Peter wrote:You are saying he [the Buddha] engaged in brainwashing, that he gave teachings which were counterproductive and damaging, that it was a poor choice.


I think that is a bit of a hasty conclusion. I did not say that the Buddha engaged in brainwashing, but that fear and shame are used in brainwashing. Prime examples are politics and advertising. Politicians use fear frequently for their own ends to manipulate voters and to defeat their enemies (the fear of terrorism, fear of unemployment, fear of economic crisis, etc.). Examples for typical "shame" messages in the advertising industry are: If you don't use deodorant XYZ you smell like a wild boar. If you don't drink this diet drink, you look like one. There are countless other examples, but this has very little to do with the Buddha spoke of. The guardians that the Buddha spoke of are the result of the cognitive ability to understand the moral qualities of one's actions. The development of this ability needs to be nurtured by other means, primarily by developing the capacity of empathy - and of course by what is described in the eightfold path.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:29 am

Hi Thomas

I disagree with your assertion that the generation of ottappa means the generation of negativity.

Ottappa: http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philol ... :4434.pali
Ottappa (nt.) [fr. tappati1 + ud, would corresp. to a Sk. form *auttapya fr. ut -- tapya to be regretted, tormented by remorse. The BSk. form is a wrong adaptation of the Pāli form, taking o˚ for apa˚, viz. apatrapya M Vastu iii. 53 and apatrapā ibid. i.463. Müller, P. Gr. & Fausböll, Sutta Nipāta Index were both misled by the BSk. form, as also recently Kern, Toev. s. v.] fear of exile, shrinking back from doing wrong, remorse. See on term and its distinction from hiri (shame) Dhs trsl. 20, also DhsA 124, 126; Vism 8, 9 and the definition at SnA 181. Ottappa generally goes with hiri as one of the 7 noble treasures (see ariya -- dhanā). Hiri -- ottappa It 36; J i.129; hir -- ottappa at M i.271; S ii.220; v.1; A ii.78; iv.99, 151; v.214; It 34; J i.127, 206; VvA 23. See also hiri. -- Further passages: D iii.212; M i.356; S ii.196, 206, 208; v.89; A i.50, 83, 95; iii.4 sq., 352; iv.11; v.123 sq.; Pug 71; Dhs 147, 277; Nett 39. -- anottappa (nt.) lack of conscience, unscrupulousness, disregard of morality A i.50, 83, 95; iii.421; v.146, 214; Vbh 341, 359, 370, 391; as adj. It 34 (ahirika +).
-- gāravatā respect for conscience, A iii.331; iv.29. -- dhana the treasure of (moral) self -- control D iii.163, 251, 282; VvA 113. -- bala the power of a (good) conscience D iii.253; Ps ii.169, 176; Dhs 31, 102 (trln. power of the fear of blame).


Our own experience in the past is that the generation of remorse, the 'shrinking from doing wrong' may have indeed be associated with unwholesome mindstates such as aversion and gross fear as a result of the coarising vedanas. But i think its a mistake to make the assumption that the same is true for something like ottappa or, for that matter, samvega. Vedana is an unreliable indicator of whether a particular attitude is wholesome or unwholesome.
Metta

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Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:07 am

I am sorry Ben, but can we speak English rather than Pali? - Remorse is certainly different from shame.

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby cooran » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:52 am

Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Hiri Ottappa - Ajahn Jayasaro
http://www.knowbuddhism.info/2009/01/hi ... asaro.html

metta
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby rowyourboat » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:00 am

Hiri and otappa are certainly very interesting mind states. Shame is a useful thing - not to be engaged in forever and ever but for it to arise when we are about to do something wrong- it will divert us towards something wholesome. Fear is also a useful thing in very much the same way- not from eternal hell but rather from negative consequences in this life, from negative mind states. These two friends can spare us a lot of suffering. It is said the non-returners (those who have completed 75% of the path to enlightenment) must have hiri and otappa.

I think in the west we tend to approach it in the way we approach guilt and commandments, in Christianity- hence the strong words- the baggage still carried. There is no such thing in the dhamma and would be seen as counter productive and prolonged shame and fear would be akusla/unskillful. Shame and fear has gone out of fashion in the west, but perhaps only in the last 50-60 decades- so lets not think it was always the case.

I think the more intellectual can hopefully see the positives of being moral and engage in that (even though being intellectual doesnt gaurantee that as we can see from history). But I think for the less intellectual it can be a good motivator to be good. It would be interesting to see what would happen in the 'intellectual west' if all the laws were lifted for a month and anyone could do anything that they liked without fear of a criminal record. Sometimes we convince ourselves that looking at the positive side of being moral is the best way forward, when there are things like laws and obligations within which we have to act. We need to understand the contribution of the latter as well.

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:15 am

There is nothing wrong with remorse and the dread of wrong-doing which is probably better termed qualms or scrupels in English. But this is a far cry from shame and fear. It goes to show how important precise translations are. I have assumed the meanings that were used in the original article cited by the thread starter, i.e. the ones that Bikkhu Bodhi used, which were shame and fear. Remorse and scrupels are indicators for what we call conscience. Obviously, highly developed ethics imply a highly developed conscience.

The question is then: how do you inspire remorse and scrupulousness? I guess this would only be possible by showing how actions are related to consequences and what exactly the effects of (unskilful) action are. In other words, it is only possible by coming to an understanding, primarily by direct seeing, of the suffering that certain actions cause. For example, in case of murder this would mean that the perpetrator (murderer) needs to understand the immense grief and the immense loss of opportunity on a direct human level. Punishment does not produce remorse and scrupulousness, neither does blame or accusation. Such means are unskilful and should be avoided.

It is not so much that fear and shame have "gone out of fashion", but that society finally catches up with insights gained from research in psychology. A small paradigm shift perhaps, though I doubt that it has reached the majority yet.

Cheers, Thomas

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:35 am

In answer to the orginal question, I suspect that trying to induce hiri-ottapa in others is futile. But I like Bhikku Bodhi's essay http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ay_23.html
In the present-day world, with its secularization of all values, such notions as shame and fear of wrong are bound to appear antiquated, relics from a puritanical past when superstition and dogma manacled our rights to uninhibited self-expression. Yet the Buddha's stress on the importance of hiri and ottappa was based on a deep insight into the different potentialities of human nature. He saw that the path to deliverance is a struggle against the current, and that if we are to unfold the mind's capacities for wisdom, purity and peace, then we need to keep the powderkeg of the defilements under the watchful eyes of diligent sentinels.

From a distinctly non-Buddhist source:
Preacher was a talkin' there's a sermon he gave,
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved,
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied.
It ain't easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat,
She gave her heart to the man
In the long black coat.

Bob Dylan


Mike

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Ben » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:04 pm

Hi Thomas
Pannapetar wrote:I am sorry Ben, but can we speak English rather than Pali?

I found your comment above perplexing.
To be clear, i have nothing but a very rudimentary knowledge of some pali words and no nothing of its grammatical structure. However, what I do know is that an understanding of nuances of some of the technical terms will shed light on points of the Dhamma that might be inaccessible if don't refer to the Pali.
I apologise if the extract from the definitive PTS dictionary, or the use of Pali words in my explanation, was a source of more confusion.
Kind regards

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Learn this from the waters:
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but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Jechbi » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:53 pm

Chris wrote:Hello all,

This may be of interest:

Hiri Ottappa - Ajahn Jayasaro
http://www.knowbuddhism.info/2009/01/hi ... asaro.html

metta
Chris

That's a great link. Here's an extract:
Hiri, that sense of shame or conscience is really a shrinking away from that which is inappropriate, the corollary of which is, that we should always consider the significance and appropriateness of our actions. We might consider that on a number of different levels such as what is appropriate on a wider scale, what is appropriate for us as human beings, what's appropriate in our relationships with others? What sort of principles are proper and correct, noble principles? How should we act towards the natural world,- the environment? We might look at the appropriateness of personal relationships towards mother, father, sister, brother, spouse, workmates and so on. We really need to consider what principles should underlie our conduct towards all these people, and as Buddhists, what is appropriate behaviour, speech, and thought?


The more we reflect upon these aspects of our behaviour, discriminating between the appropriate and the inappropriate, the more we train our mind, which then becomes more refined, sensitive, confidant and protected.


Ottappa is a reflection on Karma; that willingness and preparedness to stand back and think it through. We consider the whole process from the initial action ( with the ramifications both for ourselves and others) to the final results. The clearer our understanding, the stronger our reasoned faith in Kamma. There develops a wise fear, an intelligent fear based upon the painful consequences of our unskillful activities. These guiding forces or influences are not blind emotions although there is an emotional force there grounded in Wisdom and Understanding, an understanding of what is appropriate and what will result from our actions. Of course when the mind is intoxicated, full of negativity or craving, these are the very things we don't wish to think about because it just takes away so much of the excitement and enjoyment when we stop to consider "Is this really appropriate; What will be the consequences upon ourselves and other people?"


In the Abhidhamma, it states that every unwholesome mind state is accompanied by recklessness and shamelessness- the very opposites of Hiri and Ottappa. When Hiri and Ottappa are strong and resolute we have the brake of self-discipline which allows us to refrain from any pleasure of the immediate moment through realising it will lead ultimately to an increase in attachment, to fear, paranoia, anxiety, worry, sorrow and despair. When Hiri and Ottappa are present, then we can easily keep the Precepts as the basis for the spiritual life not only through their intellectual acceptance, but by the additional emotional support, as a friend and a strong force for protection.

With regard to this:
mikenz66 wrote:In answer to the orginal question, I suspect that trying to induce hiri-ottapa in others is futile.

I think that depends on how we go about helping to awaken hiri-ottappa in others. I imagine a wise teacher would be very good at it. But most of us are lousy at it and probably awaken righteous indignation instead.

Great feedback from everyone.
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Re: Inspiring hiri-ottappa in others

Postby Pannapetar » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:49 pm

Ben wrote:I found your comment above perplexing.


Sorry to perplex you, Ben. That wasn't my intention. Just a bit too much Pali for me. :smile:

In the present-day world, with its secularization of all values, such notions as shame and fear of wrong are bound to appear antiquated, relics from a puritanical past when superstition and dogma manacled our rights to uninhibited self-expression.


My guess is that moralistic teachings have always appeared antiquated, even in the ancient past. They simply have little appeal to the more intelligent and conscious segment of society. There is an important difference between moralism and morality. The former is associated with convention, authoritarian structures, and exoteric religion. The latter is associated with individual practice, non-authoritarian structures and esoteric religion. Perhaps the difference is embodied most clearly in the two most important philosophers of China, Confucius and Lao Tse. Overall, Buddhism is much more geared toward the latter.

Cheers, Thomas


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