October 14, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all Online on Friday Evening
October 15, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Dear Still Water Friends,
Recently, my aunt died and my family was shaken up— old tensions resurfaced around planning and coming together for her memorial service. In the emotional upheaval around my aunt’s passing, I sometimes felt judged; I sometimes judged others; and I witnessed loved ones judging and feeling judged.
As we all are aware, we live in a climate where passing judgment has become automatic and extreme, and the consequences are challenging. When I feel I am being judged, I shut down emotionally, unable to speak my truth, be vulnerable, or connect with the other person. I feel resentment and anger. My stomach contracts and my breath quickens. My mind churns out judgmental thoughts. I know this isn’t who I want to be, especially not with the people I love.
The only satisfaction of judging someone else is a fleeting sensation of “being right,” which soon fades.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Fourth Mindfulness Training on Loving Speech and Deep Listening offers insight and a North Star to follow when I am tempted into judgment. Especially helpful to me are these lines:
I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person.
After walking with my anger, one insight that I have is that I care deeply about the person I’m judging, but want something about them to be different. I realize, also, that they probably judge me because they care deeply for me and want something to be different. Caring deeply isn’t always the case with judgment, but it is in this situation with my loved ones. I am grateful we care deeply about each other. When I can stay with these feelings of gratitude and caring, I am able to listen with curiosity to my suffering and anger: What do I want from my loved one? What are my expectations?In Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child, Thay writes about transforming our anger:
When we’re angry with someone, it’s because we’re not able to see the many elements in him that are not him. We don’t see that that person is acting out of the habit energy which has been transmitted to him. When we see in a deeper way, we can accept this person more easily. This is true with ourselves as well.
Listening deeply and noticing my habit energies help me uncover the roots of my strong emotions. I feel less overwhelmed by them.
This Thursday and Friday evenings, after our sitting, we will recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:
- When do you feel judged and when are you judgmental?
- Are you able to listen deeply and notice your habit energies?
- Are there other ways your mindfulness practice is of help in relation to judging and being judged by others?
The text of the Fourth Mindfulness Training is below along with an excerpt on reconciliation from Thich Nhat Hanh.
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my
An excerpt from Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child by Thich Nhat Hanh
We have the tendency to blame our others, as if they’re separate from us. So we have to look deeply and ask, are we growing every day? Are we happier every day? Are we more in harmony with ourselves and with the others around us, the unlovable people as well as the lovable people?
What other people say or do doesn’t have to affect us. We can still take care of ourselves. We can try our best to really help people instead of judging and scolding and behaving in a way that creates wars around us.
When our left hand is wounded we don’t say, “Stupid hand! How could you do that?” We naturally show care to our left hand so it can heal. This is how we can see the other people in our family or community who aren’t very well, who are easily hurt, and have a lot of difficulties. We don’t say, “You don’t behave very well, you have to change.” We can learn to care for them as we would our injured left hand. When we’re angry with someone, it’s because we’re not able to see the many elements in him that are not him. We don’t see that that person is acting out of the habit energy which has been transmitted to him. When we see in a deeper way, we can accept this person more easily. This is true with ourselves as well. When we can see within us all the elements that have come from other people, such as our parents and our ancestors, and also from our environment, then we can see that much of our severity with ourselves and with others comes from other roots, other elements. We can see, “Ah, that is my grandpa who is judging my friend.” Each interaction that happens with intention and without judgment increases our mindful awareness of the ways in which our thoughts, speech, and actions are not ours alone. Our ancestors continue each day in us. With this understanding, we can find a way to undo the difficulties we have with others and make peace.