Author Topic: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?  (Read 396 times)

PaulGib

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Hello everyone, what a great place of wisdom this forum is, I am going to be doing a lot of reading of it!

The message sent to new members is also very helpful indeed, thanks to Middleway for that.

My queries are these. I have been meditating on and off for about 12 years, being introduced by the MBSR route. However, I find that he leaves me with mopre questions than answers and his verbose way of writing leaves me confuced even after all these years. These days I am going more directly to source and am reading books by Bhante G, Thich Nhat Hanh and Ajahn Chah.

However, I am still floating when it comes to the matters of thoughts in general and judgements.

1. I am aware that in practice and life we aim for non-judgment. From what I have read I see this more of letting go of judgement when it arises rather rgan no judging occurring. However, when, if ever, is judgment permissible? Say  I notice something health-wise that is a possible symptom of illness. I *have* to judge it as a possible hazard to health to look after myself, how does this fit with non-judgement?

2. Similarly, we treat our thoughts and emotions as mere thoughts and emotions and not necessarily 'truth'. But when do I know that something, a thought, is true? Extending vthe above example, I have the thought, "Hmm, I need to get this looked at." If I treat that as just a thought and don't act on it that wpould be unwise. So what IS it about such a thought that distinguishes it as one which *is* true?

Dhamma

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2020, 02:01:12 AM »
There is a fine line, but we can see wrongdoing clearly as wrongdoing and condemn it strongly without judging.

We are not to hang around those who are hindrances to us in our path. We need to learn love those sentient beings "from a distance."  But never ever do we condone bad behavior, or that which is clearly opposed to the Holy Dhamma.

Others may have much better answers than I do.

If someone is hurting your health, you need to avoid those behaviors somehow. That doesn't mean we are "judging"  them.

I know that it can be difficult to suddenly be physically removed from certain people (work, etc.).  It's like a woman who is being abused by her husband...she just has no place to go. It's easier to sit back and give instructions when we are not living someone else's terrible situation.

I feel I answered ignorantly. I am sorry. But, even so, we must strength and courage to do what is right for ourselves without directly causing harm to someone else. It's hard. This is all samsara.

May you find the wisdom you are searching.

Peace and enlightenment to you!
You are already Buddha

May we see clearly the emptiness of all phenomena

Goofaholix

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2020, 08:28:09 AM »
The point is to not get caught up in discursive thought or reactivity and identify with it as I or mine. 

Bringing awareness to the changing nature of thought develops objectivity.

Directed and objective thought and judgement is useful and necessary.

So when it is discursive and reactive you shouldn't believe thought, don't trust it, just observe it's changing and uncontrolled nature.  When thought is intentional and you can see things clearly with objectivity it's a useful tool and how it should be. So while the practice is to distrust and question thought it's purpose is to develop wisdom, which among other things knows what in the mind can be trusted.

stillpointdancer

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2020, 12:05:48 PM »
Hi PaulGib. Good questions. I was in the same boat, kind of meditating for years before I went to a Buddhist centre. I don't know if I found answers, but I did find a path which allowed me to look at such questions in a different way.

1. This depends on the nature of the the situation. Non-judgemental in this sense means not jumping to the same sort of conclusions we have spent a lifetime developing, automatic reactions which are the result of the society we find ourselves in. The aim of the path in Buddhism is to have a different relationship with the thoughts which arise as a result of interacting with ourselves and the world. We judge all the time, but mostly we judge our reactions in different situations.

It's a bit like meditating. We need to be aware of everything around us although to an outsider we are lost in the meditation. If a fire alarm goes off we must be ready to act on it. If a car goes past we can accept that a car has gone past without thinking "What a nuisance, a car has disturbed my meditation." Away from the mat we similarly deal with things which arise.

2. 'Truth' is even trickier. The pandemic has brought to the forefront the question of what truth should we act on? How do we keep ourselves and our families, and those we meet, safe? Who do we listen to? Thoughts which arise are like this. Why did they arise? Are they true or not? How should I act on them? Again, we work on our relationship with the thoughts, the gap between the thought arising and how we react to such thoughts. We can question the truth behind them without becoming paralysed to inaction, without being a rabbit caught in the headlights.

These things take time, however, and are the result of years of work on the mat and off it.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2020, 01:59:15 PM »
This is tricky for me too.

In the ideal case, it doesn't matter whether you have an health issue or not, but since it doesn't matter, there is no harm in having it looked at. After all, doctors need to make a living too.

I go in to work everyday. It doesn't matter if I work or not, so I might as well work. Since I am working, I might as well work with full attention.

I figured that I don't really need to be promoted in my job but I ask for a promotion anyway. It doesn't really bother me if I don't get promoted. It doesn't really matter if I ask for a promotion or not but I ask for it anyway.

If we're not monks, we need to make a living, pay taxes, look after our relatives etc. By practising non-judgmentality we make it seem like there is less stake in what we do. In the long run, we're going to die anyway.

This is my perspective. I'm not an expert.
Mostly ignorant

mobius

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2020, 10:42:24 PM »
(I don't remember, sorry) I hope its alright for me to share videos. I just happened to be listening to this today (one of the most helpful (for me personally) dharma lectures I've listened to lately.
At that point he talks about "two kinds of truth" and acting (or not acting) on our thoughts and when to think and not.

https://youtu.be/3KBOKK-5cWI?t=1629

regarding PaulGib's first question:

I had an interesting experience relating to this recently. I've started slowly loosing my hair about a year ago and recently it sometimes makes me depressed. I thought about trying some of those hair loss shampoos and things. Even though they're incredibly expensive and honestly seem pointless/like a scam (I mean if they really work; why are men still going bald young?). Fortunately I had previously listened to a lecture by Ram Dass where he talks about aging and this very sort of thing. The futility of being attached to your body which will eventually crumble and die no matter what you do. I didn't buy anything. I guess I'm coming to terms with the fact that I will be a bald person.

Conversely; like others mentioned; it's not wise (IMO) to take that to the extreme where you do harmful things to yourself like smoke because "I'm gonna die anyway" because you can cause yourself and others unnecessary pain here and now. So sometimes one should act upon judgments of this nature here and now; other times not.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 10:57:41 PM by mobius »
"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
-Hakuin Ekaku

"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain

Nicky

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2020, 11:01:11 AM »
I am aware that in practice and life we aim for non-judgment.

I don't recall the Buddha ever teaching his Dhamma like this. In fact, it appears the Buddha taught the opposite, namely, judging this is wholesome, that is unwholesome or harmful, this is suffering, this is the cause, this is impermanent, this is unsatisfactory, this is not self, this is peaceful, etc.

From what I have read I see this more of letting go of judgement when it arises rather than no judging occurring.

The above appears to still assert all judgment is inherently unwholesome.

Say  I notice something health-wise that is a possible symptom of illness. I *have* to judge it as a possible hazard to health to look after myself...

Obviously.

2. Similarly, we treat our thoughts and emotions as mere thoughts and emotions and not necessarily 'truth'.

Again the above appears alien to Buddhism and sounds more like New Age Foo Foo.

But when do I know that something, a thought, is true?

 A thought is the True Dhamma when it leads to peace & freedom.

 :)

Middleway

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2020, 01:52:36 AM »
I don't recall the Buddha ever teaching his Dhamma like this. In fact, it appears the Buddha taught the opposite, namely, judging this is wholesome, that is unwholesome or harmful, this is suffering, this is the cause, this is impermanent, this is unsatisfactory, this is not self, this is peaceful, etc.

Nicky, you are getting confused between judging versus discriminating. Judging is to form an opinion about something. When you form an opinion about something, you reach a dead end. That is death.

One should discriminate between what is wholesome and unwholesome. Not judge something is wholesome or not.

You “investigate” what is suffering and the cause of suffering. You don’t judge.
Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Nicky

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2020, 05:35:35 AM »
Sounds like quibbling about words.  ???

Thanisaro85

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2020, 06:32:41 PM »
I've started slowly loosing my hair about a year ago and recently it sometimes makes me depresse

Have u tried biotin? It is quite useful for myself and my cousin.

A Mind Unshaken, when touches by worldy matter, sorrowless, secure and dustless, this is the ultimate great blessing~ Mangala Sutta

mobius

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2020, 02:41:27 AM »
I've started slowly loosing my hair about a year ago and recently it sometimes makes me depresse

Have u tried biotin? It is quite useful for myself and my cousin.

oooh. Upon reading an article I will admit, at the very least, I have a few of the other (besides hair loss) symptoms of biotin deficiency. Maybe I will give this a try; thanks!
"Not knowing how near the truth is, we seek it far away."
-Hakuin Ekaku

"I have seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it has never come to pass" - Mark Twain

PaulGib

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Re: When do we accept the content of thoughts and judgment as 'valid'?
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2021, 11:56:01 PM »
Thank you all: Dhamma, Goofaholix, stillpointdancer,  dharma bum, mobius, nicky and middleway for your wise words!!!

What I would say about baldness Mobius is that I pretty-much ruined many years worrying about going bald, having noticed it was starting to go. I sometimes think it would be easier if we just woke-up bald one day because then acceptance is the only option. A shampoo which some believe has effects against hair loss is Nizoral - but look-up side effects/interactions and I have seen it claimed that the active ingredient is a carcinogen.

The plant-based people also think a whole foods plant based diet helps as it increases SHBG.

What I would say is try not to worry. Take whatever measures you choose - or none - then try not to dwell on it. I pretty-much not only the best years of my hair worrying but the best years of my life.

Another thing Mobius: if you could let me know what to search for, for your YourTube video, that woul be great - for some reason I can't get it to open - must be my settings somewhere or other!

Nicky - I was introduced to mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn who is big on non-judgement. He defines mindfulness (broadly) as paying attention, on purposem in the present moment non-judgementally. He also outlines 6 attitudinal factors required (such as letting go, beginner's mind) one of which is non-judgement. I am aware that his MBSR is not Buddhism (though he does say that he was a Buddhist at one point in his life).





 

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