30 Sep
Posted in: Practice
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“Judging is a Sense Desire”

Our KM group had a great discussion last night about “sense restraint,” which according to Joseph Goldstein’s Mindfulness book, is important “so that the mind doesn’t wander mindlessly in the alluring realm of sense object.”

He goes on to say, “Restraint is not something that is highly valued in our culture. We often see renunciation as a burdensome activity, something we think might be good for us, but which we really don’t like. Another way of understanding its value, though, would be to see renunciation as the practice of non-addiction. In this way of understanding, we can more easily experienced its true flavor of freedom.”

After reading that paragraph, we talked for a while about our own experiences of “sense restraint” with things like chocolate, or cigarettes, or even Diet Coke!

And then Thomas was reminded of a statement that Phillip Moffitt once made, which has stuck with him..and with me. Phillip said: “Judging is a sense desire.” (Because, in Buddhist understanding, the mind is a sense organ, just like the eye or the ear or the nose.)

Now that puts a very interesting light on what we’re doing when we judge other people. We’re indulging in sense desire. Just like going for that extra brownie. There is a momentary pleasure. (We feel superior. Or safe. Or smart. Or right. Or whatever.) But then there’s the downside. (We cut ourselves off from others. Or we get tight and lose our ability to see the big picture, to notice and appreciate the good qualities. Or we turn sour and angry. Or bitter. Or resentful. Etc.)

But just like with our other sense desires, we can learn to feel the urge to indulge, but then stop, maybe just saying “not now,” and with practice, we can be free from their compulsive power!

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