judgment-free awareness

Discussion of Satipatthana bhavanā and Vipassana bhavana.

Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:54 am

sphairos wrote:And I would also say that it - the very judgement-free awareness - is one of the main features of psychoanalytical treatment.


I first came across the "technique" of fully accepting the present in encounter groups, around 30 years ago. But I'm not clear whether "judgement-free awareness" in this context is actually referring to that approach.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:57 am

Sylvester wrote:I suspect that part of the problem in understanding how "grasping at the sign" is to be negated falls much on how Right Effort is interpreted.


Yes, and also how "judgement-free awareness" is interpreted. I'm not sure I get the connection to the Bahiya passage, which seems more like "proliferation-free awareness"?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Sylvester » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:02 am

danieLion wrote:

Doesn't "judgment-free awareness" suffer from the same defects that Locke's tabula rasa and Rousseau's noble savage/state of nature theories do? Perhaps it's more helpful to just distinguish between skilful judging and unskilful judging, via ardency, alertness, mindfulness, setting aside greed and distress with regard to the world and yoniso manasikara?
Kindly,



Hi ya DL

We should be safe, as long as we bear in mind that the definition of mindfulness includes vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ - giving up/to give up grief and hankering with regard to the world. So, what is the loka/world if not the 4 - ie body, feelings, mind and states? We are supposed to stop fretting over states, which the suttas would include the Hindrances.

One of the odd things about Right Effort is that MN 117 paints it as having a role only in view, resolve, speech, action and livelihood. It's not mentioned in connection with mindfulness or concentration. Is it too coarse for the Concentration Aggregate?

Take a look at the definition of Right Effort in SN 45.8 -

And what, monks, is right effort? (i) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (ii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (iii) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (iv) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, & culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.


The problem I find with most interpretations or applications of Right Effort is that they focus on the words in red. If you read the Pali, the sequence is somewhat different -

Katamo ca bhikkhave, sammāvāyāmo: idha bhikkhave, bhikkhu anuppannānaṃ pāpakānaṃ akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ anuppādāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati viriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati. Uppannānaṃ pāpakānaṃ akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ pahānāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati viriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati. Anuppannānaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ uppādāya chandaṃ janeti vāyamati viriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati. Uppannānaṃ kusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ ṭhitiyā asammosāya bhiyyobhāvāya vepullāya bhāvanāya pāripūriyā chandaṃ janeti vāyamati viriyaṃ ārabhati cittaṃ paggaṇhāti padahati, ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave, sammāvāyāmo.


Do you see how the sequence is reversed in the Pali to read "For the sake of ABC, he verb, verb, verb, verb." While the standard translations into idiomatic English is perfect, the loss of the Pali structure in translation hides the emphasis. The "For the sake of ABC" is the subordinate clause in Pali, while the principal clause concerns the verbs "he generates desire/chandaṃ janeti" etc etc. Right Effort is not so much concerned with how one suppresses defilements, but is primarily with the development of the motivation and desire. How one principally defeats the defilements in satipaṭṭhāna is not Right Effort (which is the precursor) but more importantly the role of the Wisdom Aggregate.
Last edited by Sylvester on Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Sylvester » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:09 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Sylvester wrote:I suspect that part of the problem in understanding how "grasping at the sign" is to be negated falls much on how Right Effort is interpreted.


Yes, and also how "judgement-free awareness" is interpreted. I'm not sure I get the connection to the Bahiya passage, which seems more like "proliferation-free awareness"?



Hi

Based on those suttas that describe the opposites of "grasping at the sign", I think the Bahiya meditation is broader that just "proliferation-free awareness". It would have to include the awareness free of the 2 anusayas of lust and aversion.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby sphairos » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:35 pm

Mr Man wrote:
sphairos wrote:Mr Man,
why should one practice "within the discipline and the tradition" and consider that - and no other thing - to be the context? Who says that?



Hi sphairos
That is the context from which Ajahn Chah taught and Ajahn Munindo teaches. Their teaching/insight comes from practicing and living in a certain way.


Hi Mr Man,

why do you think this is the context? Are you a psychic, who knows what is on everyone's mind here? Or, may be, you only know what is on your mind? Can you prove that what you think is the context is the context for everyone here?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Mr Man » Wed Sep 04, 2013 1:51 pm

sphairos wrote:
why do you think this is the context? Are you a psychic, who knows what is on everyone's mind here? Or, may be, you only know what is on your mind? Can you prove that what you think is the context is the context for everyone here?


Hi sphairos
The context of the original quotes (in the OP).
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby sphairos » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:08 pm

Mr Man wrote:
sphairos wrote:
why do you think this is the context? Are you a psychic, who knows what is on everyone's mind here? Or, may be, you only know what is on your mind? Can you prove that what you think is the context is the context for everyone here?


Hi sphairos
The context of the original quotes (in the OP).


Don't you think that the context is what was on tiltbillings' and other people mind(s) when he quoted those passages and when they was saying what they wanted? Can't you grant that it's not you who defines what the context is, other people also take part in this process?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby kirk5a » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:31 pm

Sylvester wrote:Very good. So, MN 2 lays out 7 methods for dealing with the cankers, so pre-emptive, some reactive and some non-reactive. Does it suggest that judgment-free awareness has no place in the MN 2 schema?

Might depend on what a particular teacher means by "judgment-free awareness" - is it a completely passive practice?
"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 » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:52 pm

Perhaps it would be useful to explore deeper what is meant by "judgment" here.

The immediate misinterpretation is a 'free-for-all, anything goes' which has already been debunked. But it seems to me that a much deep sense of what judgment is, is assumed. For instance, we generally judge with a reference to self, one's interests, opinions, etc. An awareness free from such judgment is possible only where there is a serious letting go of a sense of self, of a knower that judges. This letting go can only happen when the defilements have lots their hold on one to some extent, otherwise there is plenty of judgment.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Mr Man » Wed Sep 04, 2013 2:54 pm

sphairos wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
sphairos wrote:
why do you think this is the context? Are you a psychic, who knows what is on everyone's mind here? Or, may be, you only know what is on your mind? Can you prove that what you think is the context is the context for everyone here?


Hi sphairos
The context of the original quotes (in the OP).


Don't you think that the context is what was on tiltbillings' and other people mind(s) when he quoted those passages and when they was saying what they wanted? Can't you grant that it's not you who defines what the context is, other people also take part in this process?


Hi sphairos
I don't know what was on tiltbillings or other people minds but I do think the context of the teachings given by Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Munindo (& others) is relevant and important. If you think otherwise or if you think my view (or definition) of the context is wrong so be it. Who knows maybe someone else finds my input interesting/helpful.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Mr Man » Wed Sep 04, 2013 4:07 pm

Dan74 wrote:Perhaps it would be useful to explore deeper what is meant by "judgment" here.


Is the "judgment" referring to what we might call the second voice or feeling. The one which is saying. "It shouldn't be like this" "I don't want this" or "I like this" "I'm going to buy into this" or "why can't it be like this". This is distinct from the judgement "this is wholesome/unwholesome" "this is skilful/unskilful".

In Ajahn Munindo's quote we also have "Patiently allowing", which to me shows a level of commitment, resolution and effort (in contrast to impatient). When we get pulled into frustrating dilemmas we take a step back we don't buy into them or indulge them but we allow them to be. We take note.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby beeblebrox » Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:40 pm

sphairos wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
sphairos wrote:Mr Man,
why should one practice "within the discipline and the tradition" and consider that - and no other thing - to be the context? Who says that?



Hi sphairos
That is the context from which Ajahn Chah taught and Ajahn Munindo teaches. Their teaching/insight comes from practicing and living in a certain way.


Hi Mr Man,

why do you think this is the context? Are you a psychic, who knows what is on everyone's mind here? Or, may be, you only know what is on your mind? Can you prove that what you think is the context is the context for everyone here?


Hi all,

There seems to be a misunderstanding of what "context" means. It'd probably be good for the discussion if there was a clarification...

From a dictionary:

1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.

2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.


It seems reasonable to me when Mr. Man said that the context of what Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Munindo taught should be seen within the practice of a certain tradition, i.e. the Buddha's Dhamma.

:anjali:
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby danieLion » Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:29 pm

Hi Sylvester,
Sylvester wrote:Do you see how the sequence is reversed in the Pali to read "For the sake of ABC, he verb, verb, verb, verb."

Yes, I do see, thanks to your exposition.

Sylvester wrote:While the standard translations into idiomatic English is perfect, the loss of the Pali structure in translation hides the emphasis. The "For the sake of ABC" is the subordinate clause in Pali, while the principal clause concerns the verbs "he generates desire/chandaṃ janeti" etc etc. Right Effort is not so much concerned with how one suppresses defilements, but is primarily with the development of the motivation and desire. How one principally defeats the defilements in satipaṭṭhāna is not Right Effort (which is the precursor) but more importantly the role of the Wisdom Aggregate.

This seems to me to be similar to what Thanissaro is saying in his book Right Mindfulness.
Kindly,
dL
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Sylvester » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:10 am

kirk5a wrote:
Sylvester wrote:Very good. So, MN 2 lays out 7 methods for dealing with the cankers, so pre-emptive, some reactive and some non-reactive. Does it suggest that judgment-free awareness has no place in the MN 2 schema?

Might depend on what a particular teacher means by "judgment-free awareness" - is it a completely passive practice?


Based on the 2 quotes in the OP, this looks unlikely. In both cases, the faculty to discriminate between nice versus not is still present, it appears. As long as it is present, it won't be completely passive, but it will be passive enough to simply let things be.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:39 am

Mr Man wrote:
Dan74 wrote:Perhaps it would be useful to explore deeper what is meant by "judgment" here.


Is the "judgment" referring to what we might call the second voice or feeling. The one which is saying. "It shouldn't be like this" "I don't want this" or "I like this" "I'm going to buy into this" or "why can't it be like this". This is distinct from the judgement "this is wholesome/unwholesome" "this is skilful/unskilful".


One could say it's being mindful of how we react to experience. But to be mindful effectively there needs to be an initial acceptance of that experience.
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby last » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:02 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


judgment-free awareness, that judges dilemma to be utterly frustrating?
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby bodom » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:02 pm

From Ajahn Succito:

CHOICELESS AWARENESS

Meditation can also proceed without a meditation object, in a state of pure contemplation, or "choiceless awareness".

After calming the mind by one of the methods described above, consciously put aside the meditation object. Observe the flow of mental images and sensations just as they arise, without engaging in criticism or praise. Notice any aversion and fascination; contemplate any uncertainty, happiness, restlessness or tranquillity as it arises. You can return to a meditation object (such as the breath). whenever the sense of clarity diminishes, or if you begin to feel overwhelmed by impressions. When a sense of steadiness returns, you can relinquish the object again.

This practice of "bare attention" is well-suited for contemplating the mental process. Along with observing the mind's particular "ingredients", we can turn our attention to the nature of the container. As for the contents of the mind, Buddhist teaching points especially to three simple, fundamental characteristics.

First, there is changeability (anicca) - the ceaseless beginning and ending all things go through, the constant movement of the content of the mind. This mind-stuff may be pleasant or unpleasant, but it is never at rest.

There is also a persistent, often subtle, sense of dissatisfaction (dukkha). Unpleasant sensations easily evoke that sense, but even a lovely experience creates a tug in the heart when it ends. So at the best of moments there is still an inconclusive quality in what the mind experiences, a somewhat unsatisfied feeling.

As the constant arising and passing of experiences and moods become familiar, it also becomes clear that -- since there is no permanence in them -- none of them really belong to you. And, when this mind-stuff is silent -- revealing a bright spaciousness of mind -- there are no purely personal characteristics to be found! This can be difficult to comprehend, but in reality there is no "me" and no "mine"-- the characteristic of "no-self", or impersonality (anatta).

Investigate fully and notice how these qualities pertain to all things, physical and mental. No matter if your experiences are joyful or barely endurable, this contemplation will lead to a calm and balanced perspective on your life.


http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebmed012.htm

: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 daverupa » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:10 pm

last 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


judgment-free awareness, that judges dilemma to be utterly frustrating?


There's not necessarily a judgment ahead of unpleasant feeling at the mind sense gate, that can be simple contact-fed feeling which is yet held prior to taking it up with thirst.
    "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: judgment-free awareness

Postby Zom » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:28 pm

What taints, bhikkhus, should be abandoned by removing? Here a bhikkhu, reflecting wisely, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensual desire; he abandons it, removes it, does away with it, and annihilates it. He does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will…He does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty…He does not tolerate arisen evil unwholesome states; he abandons them, removes them, does away with them, and annihilates them. While taints, vexation, and fever might arise in one who does not remove these thoughts, there are no taints, vexation, or fever in one who removes them. These are called the taints that should be abandoned by removing.

MN 2 - http://suttacentral.net/mn2/en/
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Re: judgment-free awareness

Postby daverupa » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:03 pm

It's true that

AN 10.51 wrote:If, by such self-examination, a bhikkhu knows: ‘I am often given to longing, given to ill will, overcome by dullness and drowsiness, restless, plagued by doubt, angry, defiled in mind, agitated in body, lazy, and unconcentrated,’ he should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to abandon those same bad unwholesome qualities. Just as one whose clothes or head had caught fire would put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to extinguish the fire on his clothes or head, so too that bhikkhu should put forth extraordinary desire, effort, zeal, enthusiasm, indefatigability, mindfulness, and clear comprehension to abandon those same bad unwholesome qualities.


yet there does seem to be space for a certain unpleasant feeling at the mind gate, just as there is space for, say, foot pain:

DN 16 wrote:But it is not such a wonder, Ānanda, that those who have become human should die, but if every time there is a death in this place, after approaching the Realised One, you were to ask about it, Ānanda, that would be troublesome to the Realised One.
    "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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