It’s been a while. Since I began this blog in 2010 this is the longest I’ve gone without posting. I’m on hiatus, and I plan to stay that way.
No particular reason. Just don’t have much to say.
On the health front, the latest round of tests show that my cancer has not changed. It seems to be in a holding pattern right now. Good. What’s not so good is the lymphedema or swelling in my legs, which, like metastatic cancer, is incurable. I’ll spare you the details and just say that the fluid has reached both legs and greatly inhibits my mobility.
I did want to comment about something today…
One of the things we see in Trump’s abnormal behavior that doesn’t seem to get talked about a lot is the way he judges people. I suppose it gets lost in the nastiest of his jibes. But when he calls someone a “slime ball,” “crooked,” or “lying,” he’s judging a person’s character, their worth. Judgments of this sort stem from negative emotions and mental tendencies. It is not the way for a responsible adult to behave, and furthermore, it sets a bad example for adults and ‘younger people. It is just one of the many ways in which Trump’s behavior is inappropriate for a person occupying the highest office in the land and another reason why he shouldn’t be there.
He is trying to define others, define who they are, but what folks with judgmental minds don’t seem to understand is that they are really defining who they are, showing us their true character.
Judging others is a cause for suffering. Not theirs, ours. The Buddha taught that judging others prevents us from discovering truth because the judgmental mind prevents understanding and the accumlation of wisdom.
When we analyze the situation from the standpoint of Buddha-dharma, we find that it links with Nagarjuna’s concept of the “emptiness of views.” In the way I am framing this discussion, judgment, the act of judging others, is nothing more than a view, an opinion.
Venkata Ramanan, in Nagarjuna’s Philosophy, writes,
To abandon [views] is to give up the claim of completeness in regard to what is only fragmentary. [All] views owe [their] being to lack of ‘direct, unimpeded comprehension of the true nature of things…’ This becomes practically the central point in the philosophy of Nagarjuna.’
If we unpack this statement literally, we see that while we may judge someone as a slimeball, but it’s doubful they are a total slimeball. We’re merely expressing our opinion on a fragment of their overall character.
Ramanan goes on to say,
The rejection of views which is an essential point in the philosophy of the Middle Way means that no specific view, being specific, is limitless, and no view, being a view, is ultimate. The ultimate view is not any ‘view.’ ‘Silence is the ultimate truth for the wise.
Trump’s judgmental mind and his unfortunate tweets are just examples of the growing negativity in our society and the way our civil discourse has become so uncivil. We need to turn this around.
We can do our part by recognizing the worthlessness, the emptiness, of judging others, and we can take our cue from Thich Nhat Hanh:
Do your best to practice compassionate listening. Do not listen for the sole purpose of judging, criticizing, or analyzing. Listen only to help the other person express himself and find some relief from his suffering.
I think listening is a more valuable use of our time than criticizing and judging. Don’t you?