Friday, August 7, 2015

Ajahn Munindo on Judgement-Free Awareness

Ajahn Munindo (1951-present): Mr. Freedom

There is a church in the middle of Newcastle that has painted on the front doors, ‘Hate all Evil. Love all Good.’ If you were brought up with that sort of conditioning, as many of us were, you will inevitably have been led to this inwardly divided state. According to this teaching – which I am sure is entirely contrary to the Way of Jesus – God loves good and hates evil. The good ones he embraces and takes up to heaven where they have a good time forever, and the bad ones he chucks into hell where they have a bad time forever. With this kind of conditioning, when, in the face of recognising our faults we want to be virtuous, we start playing God; we set up this almighty tyrant in our minds that’s sitting in judgment all the time. We end up eternally taking sides for and against ourselves – and it is terrible, it tears us apart.

The good news is that taking sides is not an obligation – we don’t have to do it. We don’t have to follow these compulsions. With simple, careful, kind, patient attention we can recognise them as a tendency of mind. They are not the mind itself! They are not who and what we are. And having seen them, little by little, we are less caught up in them. As long as we don’t start playing their game by judging the judging mind, saying, ‘I shouldn’t be judging,’ we take away the counter-force which gives these tendencies their vitality.

We come to know the judging mind as it is. The judging mind is just so. There is nothing inherently wrong with the judging mind. Its ability to evaluate and discriminate is an important part of the intelligence that we as human beings use for our safety and survival. The problem is that its influence has become disproportionately large in our day-today living, and it never wants to be quiet! Through careful feeling-investigation we can come to see this hyperactivity for what it is and allow the discriminative function to resume its proper place. We experience whatever is happening with our full attention but with calmness and some degree of equanimity. In each moment that we see the judging mind objectively – just as it is – we purify the underlying view that we have of life.

In the deeper dimensions of our being there’s this kind of work to do. I would suggest that if we have the agility to move in and out of these various dimensions we will become adept at addressing very complex issues. In our daily life we can usefully set time aside, perhaps thirty minutes each day, to sit in formal meditation, and this agility will grow. Even ten minutes of well-spent sitting, being still and going back to the basic feeling of a total non-judgemental relationship with life, to perfect receptivity to the moment, can be of great benefit. Call it meditation, call it contemplation, call it whatever you like! It is a way of putting some time aside to value this part of life, to keep this faculty alive. And I trust that, as we emerge into the more mundane workaday activity of our lives, in which we engage with people in situations and make decisions and so forth, we will find that we have a firmer foundation. The decisions we make will be informed by an underlying clear view.

The above is taken from the excellent book ‘Unexpected Freedom’ which is freely downloadable hereAjahn Munindo has been a Buddhist monk since 1975 and studied with the forest monks Ajahn Chah and Ajahn Sumedho. He is the abbot of Aruna Ratanagiri Buddhist Monastery in northern England.

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