+2 votes
by (140 points)
Venerable sir, thank you for the great talks you diligently and unconditionally give on youtube. I find them enormously beneficial and its great that we can ask a monk of your caliber (I know there is anatta, but it's not an excessive praise, I truly mean that and I want to express appreciation). Bhante, I haven't found direct answer to this question, I'm sure the last Buddha had an answer and was not just that we are conditioned so because we are reborn in the human realm. Here is the question, actually 3-patr question: Why do we use fault-finding mind? Is it to understand and protect ourselves from untrue, deceiving, cruel and small-minded intentions of others? What are some practical ways to overcome it, have positive and encouraging outlook that does not give a signal to people that one is naive and still be objective without suspicion, paranoia, and criticizing which are unwholesome and detrimental states of mind for walking the 8-fold Path? Can you please elaborate for the sake of devoted buddhist laypeople?
by (2.9k points)
@Nimmita

When it comes to the 4 right efforts an easy way for me is Ajahn Sona's explanation:
The first two (prevention and removal) have to do with the 5 hindrances, and the latter two (development and maintenance) with the 7 enlightenment factors. It's easy to remember, imho.

Also, I might mention that the upekkha from the 7 enlightenment factor is a result of the effort put in. It's not something you can do, not something 'you can master', but it is something that arises naturally due to the practice.
Taking sati aside, which 'oversees' everything, you could see the next 3 enlightenment factors as active (investigation, joy, energy), and the last 3 as resultants (serenity, concentration, balance or equanimity).
One cannot make oneself concentrated, tranquil and balanced. Those mental states follow interest and joy naturally.

So, it's not the same as the upekkha mentioned in the listing of the 4 Brahma Vihara's since those 4 have to do with beings. The upekkha of the enlightenment factors has more to do with seeing things as they are and not being moved towards aversion or greed by either of them. It's about the mind being and staying in balance.

Hope this addition helps a bit further.

May you be well, too. :)
by (140 points)
That is what I called kammic hooks. I also came across Ajahn Sona's talks, especially the ones on the Right Effort, and that is why I agreed with your first comment, which was one to one - the wise attention, right effort, and the 7 factors. What amazes me is how the inquisitive mind works and the kammik effect of that. Many times before I had this experiences - I'm searching for some understanding and the answer, doesn't appear at the moment. Rather than making myself irritated, I bring the mind to some equanimity and drop it for sometime. Later, I  continue searching and eventually the answer comes about. I connect it with the kammic effect of the effort made. Amazing that at the same time I came across A. Sona's talk, you also wrote about that too.
What A. Sona did mentioned in one of his retreat talks on named on the web "Development of the Higher Mind" - was that all 7 factors of enlightenment   culminate in this profound state of mind equanimity. I understood that it is developed through practice and climbing that lather step by step through the factors. Thanks for the second comment. Although Sankha had some insight that not all fault-finding is bad and that is my intuition too and that is why I asked the second part of the original question. Since many buddhist monks are stating that fault finding is one or another form of ill will, I do take these more knowledgeable beings' view. However, somewhere inside my mind some opposition is stirred . Something tells me that we do it so the other person, if they think they are taking advantage of us by being deceitful, will understand that we night be nice but not naive and such being may not do it. I know I cannot change the other beings behavior. This might come from wrong views by thinking that exaggerating the truth is alright. Otherwise, is this fault finding mind comes from wisdom or does it come from aversion and is it beneficial for us so we don't proceed making the unwholesome kamma. So the question still remains for Bhikkhu Yuttadhammo, since he might have not just the intellectual (mundane) but the an answer coming from insight, whether it is a wholesome or unwholesome kamma if we use it for our protection. If I know the answer, then I can condition myself against my habits so I don't experience a negative vipaka in the future.
by (2.9k points)
I myself don't agree with the statement that sometimes a fault-finding mind is not bad.
Seeing something that is disagreeable and unwholesome is not the same as having and using a fault-finding mind.

From my understanding and development so far (my answers are, unless explicitly stated, rooted in experience/practice, not intellectual knowledge, fyi.):
a fault-finding mind is always unwholesome. If it is not rooted in anger (aversion), then it is in delusion (judgement). It is combined with unwise attention, attention that is seeking out the fault in something or someone. And with that equanimity is lost.
A fault-finding mind is based in a negative mood from the get go. Perception is therefore skewed right from the start.

Let's take an example: one sees a child hitting another child.

An equanimous mind can see this with the thought coming up: "This is not good for the child that hits the other one. Because it has a detrimental effect for the mind. It is also unpleasant for the child that's being hit. It leads to unhappiness for both."
This is an approach whereby the person looks at the action, looking on it as unprofitable. It's not judgemental, not fault-finding. Without any need to object to it, or justify it. It just takes things as they are.
The person with this equanimous mind can still take action. But, what this person will say to the child in question, the accompanying emotion, everything will be rooted in this equanimous state. Instead of coming from a place of rejection, the child will be corrected coming from a place of compassion and wisdom.

A fault-finding mind will see this rooted in objection: "What on earth  is (s)he doing? This is wrong. I need to let this child know that this is not ok. (S)He should never do this again."
This seems innocent as well, but it is rooted in rejection and judgement, not in wisdom. The approach of the child will be completely different: "Don't do this again. This is not nice., etc." It will maybe feel rejected etc. In ones own mind pride can become established: "I have done a good thing in correcting this child. (S)He will never hit another child again."
This is another reason why acting out of a fault-finding mind can be detrimental for us/ ourselves: the establishing and/or increase of ego and pride (delusion in short).

I'm hoping that you can 'taste' the difference, because there is a difference here. Neither of those two agree with the action taken by the child. But the reaction to the situation differs.
Not having a fault-finding mind doesn't mean total surrender and acceptance of what another person does. One can always just turn away, so to speak. But, not agreeing with someone else's speech or action really does not have to be rooted in fault-finding. It can be rooted in wisdom, in knowing that what another person does is unwholesome.

So, no. Imho. a fault-finding mind is always unwholesome.
Ajahn Sona has a video in the list of the "Right Effort Retreat" that might help a bit. It's the 'unwise attention' one.

To condition yourself against it: use the noting technique taught by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu.
Noting is a practical approach of the 4 right efforts. It helps to break unwholesome habits and reconditions the mind.
But, maybe Yuttadhammo will also respond to your answer someday.

Hope this helps further.
_/\_
by (140 points)
Very well. I get the difference. I also have seen that video of wise attention. It is not that complicated actually. I know the fault finding is always coming from ill will. I'm contemplating and I think there are some semantics the way I phrased it..
Here is a real scenario: You noticed that a closed one has told you a half-truth or they told you they took some action of solving a problem on your behalf but they told you after the fact. The other person they have involved was not supposed to be involved is not what they should have done. BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT THE OTHER PERSON TO SUFFER IN THE FUTURE FROM DOING UNWHOLESOME KAMMA, SHOULD YOU BRING TO THEIR ATTENTION THE ISSUE OR SHOULD YOU LET GO NOT TO HEART THEIR FEELINGS. I don't try to come from ill will but out of compassion. This person had good but a bit skewed intentions coming from cultural accepted wrong views but not according to buddhist' skillful views. They resolved the problem but they do not not the consequences I bare for asking the other person for that favor. I want to address the wrong doing but I don't want to be critical. That person initiated the action wants to do generous acts and be helpful but doesn't always now how to skillfully. Should I try the sandwich method? I also don't want to do a bad kamma and affect their inspiration to do good acts. I don't want them to feel criticized but if I leave it unaddressed. If you have some input surely is welcomed.
by (2.9k points)
It's good to make things practical. Having a real life example is really helpful.

There is a lot of different things that could be addressed here: 1. someone was lying to you (half-truth), 2. being confronted with 'done-deals' after the fact, 3. the kamma of another, 4. addressing the issue at all or not, 5. the feelings of the other person, 6. baring consequences, 7. not wanting to be critical, 8. others not knowing how to be skilful
Maybe you see more issues I haven't been able to pick up.

I try to address the things one at a time.

1. someone was lying to you (half-truth)
This is one I encounter on a regular basis lately as well. As far as I can see there are two sides to this coin: the being lied to and my reaction to this. One of my teachers said to me something like: "Why are you disappointed that others lie to you? What did you expect? Only sotapanna's and higher no longer lie."
That did hit home. Indeed, everyone lies. Or, better yet, is incapable of not lying. Unless sotapanna or higher. I'm not talking about intentional lying, btw. But, even if they don't know, it's still lying. But, my teacher is correct: the problem is my unrealistic expectations of other beings. It's the expectations I have to adjust. It is unfair of me to expect 'behaviour of an arahant' from people that might not even meditate.
Maybe you can look into that one as well.

2. being confronted with 'done-deals'
In short: what's done is done. Letting go of what has been done would be the wise reaction, imho.
Investigation ones own reaction is the thing here, I'd say. Does it bother you? If so, why can't you let go of it? Is there a sensation of pressure, restlessness, anger, etc? That should be dealt with, since what another person does is really not in your control.

3. the kamma of another
Also, neither in your control nor is it, quite frank, your business. (Sorry, English is not my first language and sometimes I don't know how to phrase things differently.)
But, I must also say that this training in 'not interfering with another' is quite hard. At least for me. Imho, it's a training for the higher paths.
What I discover in myself is that this 'entangling with another's speech or action' is deeply engrained. My teachers' advice was: "Don't entangle yourself with the kamma of another person." It's easier said than done, imho. It raised a lot of questions in me: "Why not?", "When do I entangle myself anyway? How would I know?", "How do I stop entangling myself?", etc.
I would give you the advice of my teacher: don't get entangled.  Since this is some issue I haven't dealt with completely myself, that's all the advice I can give.

4. addressing the issue at all or not
This one, I think, depends on different things. Did it make things really difficult for you in a practical sense. Did his/her action put you in a difficult position? Then, you can address that bit. Is it likely to happen again and is said person able to correct his/her view on this issue? Then, you can address it. Maybe you can think of other reasons (other than your own internal world, because that is on you) that would be a reason to address it.
I would also refer again to the fact that we shouldn't expect things the other is unable to do (ie. expecting 'arahants' behaviour').

But, do you really have to do anything at all? More often than not I find that with reacting/responding I just give more power and momentum to things. And I start to wonder whether doing nothing isn't more skilful in most situations. Let things burn out. When I asked a teacher when I should act his response was that I should act in case of danger of harm for myself or others or when I can. But, even if I might want to it doesn't mean that my reaction has any impact at all. The workings of the law of kamma, right. The result of bad kamma of the other being might be in the way of making any difference or being helpful. And we simply can't know whatever kamma of others comes to fruit at a certain point.

We should, however, never ever react out of unwholesome states.
Which brings me to a question. You seem to struggle with the question whether to do something or not. Which means, that there is doubt. Since doubt is unwholesome, a hindrance wouldn't in this case the best action to not do anything? Except figure things out for yourselves, of course.
(I don't need an answer, btw., since it wouldn't be useful for me at all. So, it's more meant for reflection.)

5. the feelings of the other person
Well, that is again, not on you. Their feelings are theirs. The way they will react has to do with their own conditioning. You can't prevent or protect them from this. 'Each is the heir of their own kamma', comes to mind here.

6. baring consequences
To each his/her own, I'd say.
The way we react to situations is the problem. Since we can't control others' actions it is up to us to learn how to respond in a skilful way. Being honest with oneself is one of the most crucial skills to develop, imho. And being patient with oneself and others. The other 8 parami come to mind here as well.

7. not wanting to be critical
Why not? You are allowed to be critical. Monks have to 'correct' each other as well in monasteries. The advice here is that one should use the right speech for those occasions. Right speech has 5 characteristics:
- Is what your saying (or going to say) true? If yes, then say what you want to say.
- Is it beneficial/useful for the other person? Yes? Go ahead.
- Is it timely? Don't wait ages to address the issue. But also, is it the right time? Are you, f.i., alone with the other person?
- Is it polite? Don't be insulting to the other person. Address the way you formulate what you want to say.
- Is it kind? Here, the sandwich method you were referring to, comes to mind. I would start with showing a lot of appreciation for the intention of the other person. Say that I could see that (s)he didn't mean any harm or wrong doing. Things like that. And then explain why it wasn't skilful and how things could be done more skilful in the future.
Does that make sense?

8. others not knowing how to be skilful
None of us really know how to be skilful, I'd say. Developing wisdom by looking at ones own mind is the start here, imho. Cause, really, what is being skilful at all? If I look at myself, I must admit that in a lot of situations I don't even really know. How on earth can I then be so arrogant to assume to be able to judge that another person isn't skilful? (This might, btw., absolutely not be applicable to your situation. I just write down what comes to mind.)
The more wisdom there is, the more compassion grows. Towards others, towards myself.
Nowadays I really try to not look at what others say or do at all since I myself am not 'done' yet.
When something happens, someone lies to me, f.i., first I look at my own reactions. See where work is still to be done, what hindrance needs to be worked with. Then I try to let the issue 'simmer in its own juice', so to speak. If, after a short while, I come to the conclusion that I actually can give some useful advice, that I actually do have an answer to what is skilful or not, then I can still address it.

Anyway. As you can see, there really is a lot to unpack. Coming to know ones own intention might be the hardest of them all. Do I want to say anything because it bothers me (and I use deflections and projections to cover this) or do I really think it would be helpful for the other person? It requires total honesty. But, we also shouldn't expect things we can't live up to yet, from ourselves. Compassion not just for the other person, but also for ourselves is a good practice.

I hope any of this can give you a spark, an idea, an inspiration. Keep what you can use, throw out the rest. And, just to be sure, I didn't mean to be harsh or offend in any way. I really struggle sometimes with correct use of English language.
_/\_

P.S. You might be right about the bit about it being a semantics issue. That thought occurred bo me as well. Also, I appreciate this conversation with you. It makes me reflect on my own progress and things that still need to be developed. Thank you for that.

2 Answers

0 votes
by (17.6k points)
I know this question is meant for Bhante, but here's a possible answer until he replies.
Fault finding is not always bad. It depends on the intention of the person.

A holy man, a parent, an adult, a wise friend etc. may point out a fault in you out of compassion and kindness.
But a person who dislikes you or a person who craves to look smarter than you would point out a fault merely to put you down or to get attention.

So when you are pointing out a fault in someone, you have to watch your mind to see what drives that. If it is done with malice in the heart, it is detrimental to your spiritual progress. If it is done with kindness, as in trying to teach someone the right way, it is a good Karma. But if you become obsessed with looking for people's faults instead of just pointing out as you see them, it can be detrimental to your own progress.

Practicing Upekkha or Satipatthana meditations will help you to overcome such obsessions.
by (140 points)
Very good answer to the first part of the 3-fold question. Writing the questions in very short form because of characters limitations can be misleading for others to understand, so I apologize. What I meant is not so much that I want to point out a defilement even to close ones, but rather having in general such judgmental and fault-finding mind, when trying to understand strangers and close ones' intentions, whether they are truthful, or deceiving and harmful. I don't know, if a meditation of equanimity (because it's a one of the paramis to develop to perfection to reach enlightenment) is an appropriate one since developing equanimity is meant to deal with the 8 worldly winds that affect all of us unavoidably. The reason I say this may not be appropriate is because using equanimity might make us indifferent what others do to us through the 3 channels - mind, speech, and body. Indifference is an enemy of equanimity. The second part of the question is whether on some subconscious level we use fault finding mind to differentiate the intentions of others whether they are wholesome or unwholesome. Are they driven by excessive wants, ill will - selfishness, envy, aversion, or delusion. Myself and other friends I know, even great monks, I noticed that we all looked with fault-finding, suspicious mind one time or another. With me is becoming a habit. Through reflection, I found one explanation from my point of view that is not to be malicious how we react to others' intentions, but to protect ourselves from others taking an advantage of us, confusing our goodness for weakness and dominating or exploiting that kindness. However, looking at others' intentions with fault-finding mind and suspicion is painful, developing aversion, and detrimental for practicing the 8-fold path. There is no joy and happiness with constantly having to be on the outlook so someone won't scam us. What can a layperson, without going forth, do to give benefit of a doubt to others, without getting disappointed and going back to the fault-finding mind as a result. Rather than saying, "use wisdom", please share some specific practical ways, if possible, to interact with people in a polite, kind, caring, and sincere ways for the benefit of all. Even being mindful of such instances, I'm unable to accurately determine the true intention and its motivation since human beings are complex. Often, I take it upon me and react kindly even with the risk of being taken for a fool so I won't hurt the other person. But somepeople are very tricky and have twisted minds - having this mentality that, if you are not sophisticated and tricky you are dull, below their level and they start acting from these premises. Such people I avoid, but not always we have this option. I know it's the delusion of ego but that doesn't help to interact with them, and especially when they are relatives that we care about. Bhante, if is not so much trouble, please shed some light on how to overcome this and have a bright and positive attitude,
by (17.6k points)
Staying away from Upekkha fearing that you would fall into worldly indifference is similar to not doing Metta because of the fear of lust.There is a way to properly practice Upekkha without being deceived by it's near enemy.
At one point you need to work on letting go of the need to read other person's mind. You can definitely learn from your experience and not trust people who have betrayed you in the past and not to take risks with people you barely know. But if you are going overboard and getting paranoid, it could be a sign that you are clinging to your possessions too much and also giving too much value to your existence. Practicing  Cittanupassana and Dhammanupassana will help you a lot in overcoming this unsettling nature of the mind.
by (140 points)
I'm not trying to read other peoples' minds. That is impossible, unless you are Buddha. I was simply saying to observe other peoples intentions through their mind, body, and speech actions. I don't fear using equanimity but this requires great skill so you won't fall into the trap of indifference.  You say their is a way of using equanimity proper in such cases. Maybe you would like to elaborate how?
I disagree with the the comparison with using metta to counteract lust. The meditation on the 32 parts of the body counteracts the emotion of lust arising in the mind, according to the teachings. Metta counteracts ill will - anger, aversion, frustration - and only when the mind is calm, not when these states have already arisen.
When you say that if I know from practical experience Prominent teachers such as Ajahn Brahm have also stated that trust has to be given (not earned) over and over and forgive the person making the mistakes. So what you say about let go of people that betrayed you in the past is building aversion and grudge, something I'm trying to avoid and train not to experience. That is the purpose of my question. Not taking chances with people we barely know - in many instances we cannot avoid them unless er live in a bubble alone.  
Now, I'm glad we are having this discussion because that is exactly what I meant about the fault finding mind. I looked on the analyses and the suggestions you have made to me as faulty, yet I'm not sure wether you are trying to shy with what you know, which I'm noticing that is not accurate and misleading, or your intentions are motivated by generosity to help.
I can admit that I don't know these suttas You mentioned. I cannot speculate wether this will help to settle my mind, so I won't disregard your input. For that part, I'm grateful Sankha. Thank you very much. I hope the Bhante can do short dhamma talk on youtube. It will be very interesting what his take on this 3-fold question might be. I hope to see that happen. Thanks again for your input. May you be well and happy.
by (17.6k points)
When I said "the need read other person's mind" I did not mean literally. It was just meant to point out the obsession of wanting to know what others think. I think if you read the previous comment one more time carefully, you will see that I never said Metta is used to counteract lust. So your explanation regarding that is irrelevant.  If you want to know how Upekkha is practiced, I suggest asking it as a separate question and not in the comments section.
Not trusting is not synonymous with hate. ex: We do not trust a cobra not to attack us. So we keep our distance. But that does not mean we hate the cobra. I think if you empty your cup first and pay more attention to detail before replying and put in a better effort to absorb and understand from the given answers like an attentive student and not try to assume a preacher's role,  you will be able to get the answer to your issue.
by (140 points)
Did you get this simile of the cup from  the movie "2012"?  A great being I and many others consider to be anagami (Ajahn Nyanadhammo) says that we should think that our cups are somewhat full because we have achieved somethings in our lives (not nothing) and it brings sense of accomplishment and happiness. For the people on the Path understanding anatta, is not a problem because they won't build the ego, they will just feel good in this world of unsatisfactoriness. Although, this being can be trusted and I also feel that is appropriate, I consider myself a student and I empty the cup often, but something has to remain, otherwise one doesn't advance towards enlightenment. If you knew how ti use upekkha you wouldn't also look with the fault finding mind at the end of you last comment - you are criticizing and it sounds like you are even building an aversion towards ne, not toward the discusion. So you see the issue of fault finding mind might not be so alienated to you as well.
If you observe your own responses, they sound more like preaching. I'm being modest and this question that I had for Bhikkhu Yuttodhammo is not because I have obsesión or addiction, but because it happens with me, my friends and others and it seems to be hindrance that the Bhante could have a direct knowledge how to overcome it, since the Buddha's teachings are so vast and I wouldn't know where to search for an answer (so you see, my cope is also somewhat empty).  However, because of your partially improper response, I should correct it. I don't fear of using upekkha, but since I'm mot an enlighten being, I might not know how, i might get unwholesome results, contrary on the desired effect (indifference). You said that there is a way to practice upekkha without being deceived by its near enemy. The way you said it IN THE COMMENTS and that is why I reply to you in the comments, it sounds like you are implying that you know how to use upekkha. That is why I asked you later to share it if you will, not making another incorrect simile about metta and lust. Why do I say incorrect? Upekkha and indifference are opposites and mentioned in the texts and by other great teachers that people not skilled enough may not differentiate because they are mot using it with conjunction of the other 3 sublime states (metta, koruna, and mudita). On the other hand, metta and lust do not have the same properties as upekkha and indifference. The opposite of metta is aversion but not lust. That is why it is not a proper simile. This is not preaching but rather clarifying for the sake of the truth. I do like your simile with the snake. Very well. All I said above is accompanied by metta and my intentions are not to harm you. I do this for the sake of truth and skillful understanding, not from malice or other negativity (maybe little bit of aversion). I think you understand that.
Fault--finding can bring such states of mind as aversion or even anger in some cases. I can say, "If you paid attention to my 2nd part of the question" but that would be fault-finding again, therefore I say that the second part of my original question was to the Bhante because I think It is more complicated than what you and I might comprehend (that is emptying the cup and being a student,  knowing that they are other, more advanced beings than oneself - part of the Skillful View). Could fault-finding come from the intentions to protect oneself from deceit? If so is it rising because of the ego, or the 2nd aggregate (feeling) and more precisely the pain that we trying to avoid, unaware of it? Or, is it rising because of unwholesome roots ill will or delusion? If you have useful view on this, please share it if you'd like.  I also hope that Ven. Yuttodhammo can comment on that through a video or in any other way, since all unenlightened beings experience this sometime or another. It is unpleasant feeling that I would like to know how to overcome it. Thanks again for the comments. Although the useless arguments are counterproductive, to some extend they teach us humility and make us search deeper within ourselves and outward for knowledge. Metta to you Sankha and everyone else in this site.
by (17.6k points)
Not really! To empty the cup means to prepare your mind to be able to absorb as much as possible from what another person might teach you instead of getting the mind clouded with one's own perceptions and misjudgments and blocking any new understanding.

I do point out faults as I see them but it is not necessarily bad as I have explained in the original answer. Maybe you should read it again. But you are the one asking the question so you have an issue that needs a solution. Your last comment is enough evidence that this is a real issue you are struggling with and it's not just a matter of academic interest. So if you need a solution, the skillful thing to do is to be attentive and try to grasp as much as possible while resisting your urge to preach what you think you know.

The reason why I suggested you to ask how to practice Upekkha as a separate question is that it is an accepted practice in Q & A platforms like this to do so when a topic deserves it's own question.

Indifference is Upekkha's near enemy and lust is Metta's near enemy. So if you stay away from practicing Upekkha due to fear of falling into indifference, it is similar to staying away from Metta due to fear of falling into lust. This is yet another example of you not being able to grasp what I said due to a mind assuming a preacher's role and getting clouded with personal perceptions and misunderstandings.
by (140 points)
The only beneficial thing you said in your last comment is the one about the platform's Q&A. I'm new to this site and I didn't know it. So, iI thank you for that.
I do have these experiences as much as other people I know. It sure looks like you are one of them, too. It's a valid and an important question to be addressed and to seek answer to for the sake of all people, including you.
In this whole comment your tone is set to insult. Don't you know that their is no solid core inside of 'me' (saying it in the word's conventional meaning), thank goodness for "grasping" to the Buddha's dhamma about anatta. It certainly seems you come from negativity - let me differentiate b/n intentions (your original statement and the way in your late comments you come across:"But a person who dislikes you or a person who craves to look smarter than you would point out a fault merely to put you down or to get attention").
I'm intellectually clarifying your statements, which do not uphold to the Buddhist teachings and are misleading.  I can see that you have not developed upekkha to overcome fault finding. And yes, intellectually because I don't claim to have penetrated and perfected these paramitas. At least I'm that humble. But what you are stating is also intellectual as you are not in one of the four enlightened states. Only in the stage of anagami the coerce form of ill will (where the aversion is inspired the failt-finding mind) is overcome and only an arahant has eradicated that state of mind completely.  These are not perceived notions as you state. These are the teachings of the Buddha. The rest of us, including you and most people, experience this and if you want to call it an issue (which is not the appropriate word, but that's semantics) that's fine but I would call it more of a hindrance for most to human kind.
Also what is this about grasping? (retorical question). Don't you know that we should aim towards not grasping to anything, according to Dependent Origination...and especially to something that someone falsely (because of lack of profound knowledge) claims?! Don't you see that you are preaching by saying about me not being able to grasp to what you are saying? I would have consider what you said if you knew what you were talking about the upekkha and metta and so on. You have no authority of claiming that you know this (you have said in your original comment: "Practicing Upekkha or Satipatthana meditations will help you to overcome such obsessions.") You have not penetrated that.
Anyway, i'm still glad that we are having this discussion but we are getting off-course and we are sidetracking - we are ruining harmony by bickering.  We should uphold harmony and if we know for sure the answer to the stated question from our own experience or the teachings of the Buddha, if we understood them correctly. If I penetrated this I wouldn't ask.
The 3-part question still remains and I hope Ven. Yuttodhammo take a stand on this as well. May Sankha and all beings be well and happy.
by (17.6k points)
"The only beneficial thing you said in your last comment is the one about the platform" - There is enough information to answer all 3 questions but I would say this is the only thing you are able to grasp.  The word 'grasp' here is used to give the meaning of comprehending or understanding. But because of the argumentative nature of your mind and the apparent lack of capacity to comprehend what the other person is saying, we end up wasting time having to clarify the different usages of even the commonly used English words. Then you complain about us getting sidetracked. :)

Pointing out these weaknesses is not meant as an insult. Just like if a teacher points out a weakness in a student that prevents the student from understanding what is being taught, it is not meant as an insult.   You do have a tendency to pack huge paragraphs of unrelated thoughts to your replies probably due to your apparent desire to preach. It's even more obvious in your latest comment.  Read the above answer and the comments carefully and try to grasp as much as possible without giving into your desire to preach.
by (140 points)
Let me ask you this...what makes you a teacher? Or even better...what makes you my teacher? Now I'm the student and you are the teacher? Who is preaching now...again? Is that you? The paragraphs are long because clarification necessary about the short "lessons"  you think you teach. Bhikkhu Bodhi in his dhamma talk on the paramis (silla) states that one should not be presumptuous, my friend, or do you want me to call you teacher. Please, at least treat me as equal, not as inferior (also a conceit, but I can live with that. All the things I have said in these "huge" paragraphs ARE relevant. I have to now use compassion towards you if you fon't see it Sakha. Anyway, I thought it was beneficial for you to reinforce things that you might knew but disregarded or forgot, or to learn, if you didn't know. That's all. All good intentions.
I'll take your concern seriously and keep it short. Please, comment if you'd like on my questions on the top of this comment. Are you a monk? Because my original question remains not just for any monk but specifically for Bhikkhu Yuttodhammo, because of his knowledge and training in Buddha's teachings. However, I do appreciate all of your comments. Please, keep them coming in the future as well.
by (17.6k points)
That is merely an example given to make you understand that it is possible to point out a weakness without intending to insult. Instead of putting an effort to grasp that simple example, your argumentative nature got the best of you yet again and started a brand new argument  I'm not assuming to be a teacher or a monk but you do not need be a teacher to point out a fault without intending to insult when it is this obvious.  

Also, you did ask the question so it is your responsibility to condition your mind in a way that it is focused on putting a decent effort to understand the answers instead of waiting to cherry pick words or misinterpret a sentence and using that as an excuse to satisfy a desire to preach.  Lengthy paragraphs are okay if the content is relevant and helps to bring clarity to the conversation. But posting unrelated thoughts and focusing on my personal attainments will not serve you in getting a better understanding.
+1 vote
by (2.9k points)

I'm going to give it a try. :)

1.

Why do we use fault-finding mind? Is it to understand and protect ourselves from untrue, deceiving, cruel and small-minded intentions of others? 

Why? I think due to habituation. We cannot decide with a switch in the head to no longer use this mindset. Unfortunately.

And, yes, I think it is based on the perception of the ego being threatened by whatever: another opinion, idea, something that is different and not in line with how we perceive reality (the world around us and especially ourselves). It seems to  come from a place of mistrust ("This person wants to hurt me or is going to hurt me."), which makes it fear based.

There is no wisdom in this kind of mind, imho. It seems like anatta has not deeply and properly understood yet. Maybe only an arahant is completely beyond this fault finding mind? 

In any case, when this fault finding mind is active our perceptions about the situations/opinions/persons seem to be skewed due to unwise attention.

2. Practical ways to overcome it

Well, I'd say awareness is a good start. Being able to detect when attention zooms in on a single factor and leaves everything else out, knowing when perception is skewed because the 'big picture' is lost seems to me quite helpful. 

Developing wisdom is another useful tool. Also, the 4 efforts come to mind (prevention, removal of the unwholesome; developing and maintenance of the wholesome). In a practical sense I think it's helpful to prepare before meetings with people you know trigger this fault finding mind. Reflecting afterwards, recollecting the good in yourself and/or the other. Really making an effort to see more than just the fault. Zooming out, so to speak. Take a step back and try to see the whole picture. Working on being less judgemental, by starting to notice when this judging sets in, and so forth.

Here a list of ideas:

  • know it's a habit and has nothing to do with you or the other (anatta);
  • know that perception is skewed and the picture is not complete (It's not your idea that's being 'attacked', etc.);
  • practice the 4 right efforts;
  • prepare in advance;
  • reflect afterwards;
  • recollect the good;
  • make 'living in harmony' a goal/determination;
  • develop patience (with yourself and others) and wisdom (by learning the signs of your fault finding mind);
  • develop right speech (true, beneficial/useful, timely, polite, kind) because it trains you to not only speak but also think differently;
  • experiment (in safe settings) with: 1. being imperfect, 2. not having an opinion and/or 3. not reacting to judgement by others.

There is probably a lot more that could be done. So, I don't pretend that this list is complete. It's just meant as an inspiration.

I hope any of this makes a bit of sense and helps a bit. 

_/\_

by (140 points)
This is a fairly comprehensible list. All of them in that order make sense. The 4 parts of the Right Effort might be the most appropriate. Thank you for the effort to put together this list. I learn quite a bit from your comment and it was delivered skillfully too, Medhini.
I would also take the time to thank Sankha for his suggestion on developing upekkha. After some research I came across an explanation of how  the use of the 7 factors of enlightenment are incorporated in the arising of wholesome thoughts and maintaining wholesome thoughts already arisen. I also was able to add to that knowledge that upekkha should be used with loving kindness to counteract the risk of getting into indifference (apathy). It looks like is a faster way to go on the path since it focuses on the second two parts of the Right Effort, which do not involve dealing with fault finding (aversion) mind. Also, since it is the last factor of the 7 factors and very profound to master it is not yet within yet within my reach and I realize that it will take quite some time to get to that sublime state. However, I do realize that the last 2 factors of the Right Effort should be simultaneously used with the first two and to incorporate the first few factors of the 7 factors of enlightenment, starting with mindfulness. Thanks again for your input guys and, especially, Medhini's answer and in the modest way it was delivered. If it wasn't for his comment, Sankha and I might still be stuck in the mud arguing besides the point, although his suggestion is relevant but it's a high level of attainment that I think neither of us has has got to that point. Nevertheless, both answers made me search and learn. May you be well and happy in all your endeavors.
by (2.9k points)
@Nimmita

When it comes to the 4 right efforts an easy way for me is Ajahn Sona's explanation:
The first two (prevention and removal) have to do with the 5 hindrances, and the latter two (development and maintenance) with the 7 enlightenment factors. It's easy to remember, imho.

Also, I might mention that the upekkha from the 7 enlightenment factor is a result of the effort put in. It's not something you can do, not something 'you can master', but it is something that arises naturally due to the practice.
Taking sati aside, which 'oversees' everything, you could see the next 3 enlightenment factors as active (investigation, joy, energy), and the last 3 as resultants (serenity, concentration, balance or equanimity).
One cannot make oneself concentrated, tranquil and balanced. Those mental states follow interest and joy naturally.

So, it's not the same as the upekkha mentioned in the listing of the 4 Brahma Vihara's since those 4 have to do with beings. The upekkha of the enlightenment factors has more to do with seeing things as they are and not being moved towards aversion or greed by either of them. It's about the mind being and staying in balance.

Hope this addition helps a bit further.

May you be well, too. :)
by (140 points)
That is what I called kammic hooks. I also came across Ajahn Sona's talks, especially the ones on the Right Effort, and that is why I agreed with your first comment, which was one to one - the wise attention, right effort, and the 7 factors. What amazes me is how the inquisitive mind works and the kammik effect of that. Many times before I had this experiences - I'm searching for some understanding and the answer, doesn't appear at the moment. Rather than making myself irritated, I bring the mind to some equanimity and drop it for sometime. Later, I  continue searching and eventually the answer comes about. I connect it with the kammic effect of the effort made. Amazing that at the same time I came across A. Sona's talk, you also wrote about that too.
What A. Sona did mentioned in one of his retreat talks on named on the web "Development of the Higher Mind" - was that all 7 factors of enlightenment   culminate in this profound state of mind equanimity. I understood that it is developed through practice and climbing that lather step by step through the factors. Thanks for the second comment. Although Sankha had some insight that not all fault-finding is bad and that is my intuition too and that is why I asked the second part of the original question. Since many buddhist monks are stating that fault finding is one or another form of ill will, I do take these more knowledgeable beings' view. However, somewhere inside my mind some opposition is stirred . Something tells me that we do it so the other person, if they think they are taking advantage of us by being deceitful, will understand that we night be nice but not naive and such being may not do it. I know I cannot change the other beings behavior. This might come from wrong views by thinking that exaggerating the truth is alright. Otherwise, is this fault finding mind comes from wisdom or does it come from aversion and is it beneficial for us so we don't proceed making the unwholesome kamma. So the question still remains for Bhikkhu Yuttadhammo, since he might have not just the intellectual (mundane) but the an answer coming from insight, whether it is a wholesome or unwholesome kamma if we use it for our protection. If I know the answer, then I can condition myself against my habits so I don't experience a negative vipaka in the future.
by (2.9k points)
I myself don't agree with the statement that sometimes a fault-finding mind is not bad.
Seeing something that is disagreeable and unwholesome is not the same as having and using a fault-finding mind.

From my understanding and development so far (my answers are, unless explicitly stated, rooted in experience/practice, not intellectual knowledge, fyi.):
a fault-finding mind is always unwholesome. If it is not rooted in anger (aversion), then it is in delusion (judgement). It is combined with unwise attention, attention that is seeking out the fault in something or someone. And with that equanimity is lost.
A fault-finding mind is based in a negative mood from the get go. Perception is therefore skewed right from the start.

Let's take an example: one sees a child hitting another child.

An equanimous mind can see this with the thought coming up: "This is not good for the child that hits the other one. Because it has a detrimental effect for the mind. It is also unpleasant for the child that's being hit. It leads to unhappiness for both."
This is an approach whereby the person looks at the action, looking on it as unprofitable. It's not judgemental, not fault-finding. Without any need to object to it, or justify it. It just takes things as they are.
The person with this equanimous mind can still take action. But, what this person will say to the child in question, the accompanying emotion, everything will be rooted in this equanimous state. Instead of coming from a place of rejection, the child will be corrected coming from a place of compassion and wisdom.

A fault-finding mind will see this rooted in objection: "What on earth  is (s)he doing? This is wrong. I need to let this child know that this is not ok. (S)He should never do this again."
This seems innocent as well, but it is rooted in rejection and judgement, not in wisdom. The approach of the child will be completely different: "Don't do this again. This is not nice., etc." It will maybe feel rejected etc. In ones own mind pride can become established: "I have done a good thing in correcting this child. (S)He will never hit another child again."
This is another reason why acting out of a fault-finding mind can be detrimental for us/ ourselves: the establishing and/or increase of ego and pride (delusion in short).

I'm hoping that you can 'taste' the difference, because there is a difference here. Neither of those two agree with the action taken by the child. But the reaction to the situation differs.
Not having a fault-finding mind doesn't mean total surrender and acceptance of what another person does. One can always just turn away, so to speak. But, not agreeing with someone else's speech or action really does not have to be rooted in fault-finding. It can be rooted in wisdom, in knowing that what another person does is unwholesome.

So, no. Imho. a fault-finding mind is always unwholesome.
Ajahn Sona has a video in the list of the "Right Effort Retreat" that might help a bit. It's the 'unwise attention' one.

To condition yourself against it: use the noting technique taught by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu.
Noting is a practical approach of the 4 right efforts. It helps to break unwholesome habits and reconditions the mind.
But, maybe Yuttadhammo will also respond to your answer someday.

Hope this helps further.
_/\_
by (140 points)
Very well. I get the difference. I also have seen that video of wise attention. It is not that complicated actually. I know the fault finding is always coming from ill will. I'm contemplating and I think there are some semantics the way I phrased it..
Here is a real scenario: You noticed that a closed one has told you a half-truth or they told you they took some action of solving a problem on your behalf but they told you after the fact. The other person they have involved was not supposed to be involved is not what they should have done. BECAUSE YOU DON'T WANT THE OTHER PERSON TO SUFFER IN THE FUTURE FROM DOING UNWHOLESOME KAMMA, SHOULD YOU BRING TO THEIR ATTENTION THE ISSUE OR SHOULD YOU LET GO NOT TO HEART THEIR FEELINGS. I don't try to come from ill will but out of compassion. This person had good but a bit skewed intentions coming from cultural accepted wrong views but not according to buddhist' skillful views. They resolved the problem but they do not not the consequences I bare for asking the other person for that favor. I want to address the wrong doing but I don't want to be critical. That person initiated the action wants to do generous acts and be helpful but doesn't always now how to skillfully. Should I try the sandwich method? I also don't want to do a bad kamma and affect their inspiration to do good acts. I don't want them to feel criticized but if I leave it unaddressed. If you have some input surely is welcomed.
by (2.9k points)
It's good to make things practical. Having a real life example is really helpful.

There is a lot of different things that could be addressed here: 1. someone was lying to you (half-truth), 2. being confronted with 'done-deals' after the fact, 3. the kamma of another, 4. addressing the issue at all or not, 5. the feelings of the other person, 6. baring consequences, 7. not wanting to be critical, 8. others not knowing how to be skilful
Maybe you see more issues I haven't been able to pick up.

I try to address the things one at a time.

1. someone was lying to you (half-truth)
This is one I encounter on a regular basis lately as well. As far as I can see there are two sides to this coin: the being lied to and my reaction to this. One of my teachers said to me something like: "Why are you disappointed that others lie to you? What did you expect? Only sotapanna's and higher no longer lie."
That did hit home. Indeed, everyone lies. Or, better yet, is incapable of not lying. Unless sotapanna or higher. I'm not talking about intentional lying, btw. But, even if they don't know, it's still lying. But, my teacher is correct: the problem is my unrealistic expectations of other beings. It's the expectations I have to adjust. It is unfair of me to expect 'behaviour of an arahant' from people that might not even meditate.
Maybe you can look into that one as well.

2. being confronted with 'done-deals'
In short: what's done is done. Letting go of what has been done would be the wise reaction, imho.
Investigation ones own reaction is the thing here, I'd say. Does it bother you? If so, why can't you let go of it? Is there a sensation of pressure, restlessness, anger, etc? That should be dealt with, since what another person does is really not in your control.

3. the kamma of another
Also, neither in your control nor is it, quite frank, your business. (Sorry, English is not my first language and sometimes I don't know how to phrase things differently.)
But, I must also say that this training in 'not interfering with another' is quite hard. At least for me. Imho, it's a training for the higher paths.
What I discover in myself is that this 'entangling with another's speech or action' is deeply engrained. My teachers' advice was: "Don't entangle yourself with the kamma of another person." It's easier said than done, imho. It raised a lot of questions in me: "Why not?", "When do I entangle myself anyway? How would I know?", "How do I stop entangling myself?", etc.
I would give you the advice of my teacher: don't get entangled.  Since this is some issue I haven't dealt with completely myself, that's all the advice I can give.

4. addressing the issue at all or not
This one, I think, depends on different things. Did it make things really difficult for you in a practical sense. Did his/her action put you in a difficult position? Then, you can address that bit. Is it likely to happen again and is said person able to correct his/her view on this issue? Then, you can address it. Maybe you can think of other reasons (other than your own internal world, because that is on you) that would be a reason to address it.
I would also refer again to the fact that we shouldn't expect things the other is unable to do (ie. expecting 'arahants' behaviour').

But, do you really have to do anything at all? More often than not I find that with reacting/responding I just give more power and momentum to things. And I start to wonder whether doing nothing isn't more skilful in most situations. Let things burn out. When I asked a teacher when I should act his response was that I should act in case of danger of harm for myself or others or when I can. But, even if I might want to it doesn't mean that my reaction has any impact at all. The workings of the law of kamma, right. The result of bad kamma of the other being might be in the way of making any difference or being helpful. And we simply can't know whatever kamma of others comes to fruit at a certain point.

We should, however, never ever react out of unwholesome states.
Which brings me to a question. You seem to struggle with the question whether to do something or not. Which means, that there is doubt. Since doubt is unwholesome, a hindrance wouldn't in this case the best action to not do anything? Except figure things out for yourselves, of course.
(I don't need an answer, btw., since it wouldn't be useful for me at all. So, it's more meant for reflection.)

5. the feelings of the other person
Well, that is again, not on you. Their feelings are theirs. The way they will react has to do with their own conditioning. You can't prevent or protect them from this. 'Each is the heir of their own kamma', comes to mind here.

6. baring consequences
To each his/her own, I'd say.
The way we react to situations is the problem. Since we can't control others' actions it is up to us to learn how to respond in a skilful way. Being honest with oneself is one of the most crucial skills to develop, imho. And being patient with oneself and others. The other 8 parami come to mind here as well.

7. not wanting to be critical
Why not? You are allowed to be critical. Monks have to 'correct' each other as well in monasteries. The advice here is that one should use the right speech for those occasions. Right speech has 5 characteristics:
- Is what your saying (or going to say) true? If yes, then say what you want to say.
- Is it beneficial/useful for the other person? Yes? Go ahead.
- Is it timely? Don't wait ages to address the issue. But also, is it the right time? Are you, f.i., alone with the other person?
- Is it polite? Don't be insulting to the other person. Address the way you formulate what you want to say.
- Is it kind? Here, the sandwich method you were referring to, comes to mind. I would start with showing a lot of appreciation for the intention of the other person. Say that I could see that (s)he didn't mean any harm or wrong doing. Things like that. And then explain why it wasn't skilful and how things could be done more skilful in the future.
Does that make sense?

8. others not knowing how to be skilful
None of us really know how to be skilful, I'd say. Developing wisdom by looking at ones own mind is the start here, imho. Cause, really, what is being skilful at all? If I look at myself, I must admit that in a lot of situations I don't even really know. How on earth can I then be so arrogant to assume to be able to judge that another person isn't skilful? (This might, btw., absolutely not be applicable to your situation. I just write down what comes to mind.)
The more wisdom there is, the more compassion grows. Towards others, towards myself.
Nowadays I really try to not look at what others say or do at all since I myself am not 'done' yet.
When something happens, someone lies to me, f.i., first I look at my own reactions. See where work is still to be done, what hindrance needs to be worked with. Then I try to let the issue 'simmer in its own juice', so to speak. If, after a short while, I come to the conclusion that I actually can give some useful advice, that I actually do have an answer to what is skilful or not, then I can still address it.

Anyway. As you can see, there really is a lot to unpack. Coming to know ones own intention might be the hardest of them all. Do I want to say anything because it bothers me (and I use deflections and projections to cover this) or do I really think it would be helpful for the other person? It requires total honesty. But, we also shouldn't expect things we can't live up to yet, from ourselves. Compassion not just for the other person, but also for ourselves is a good practice.

I hope any of this can give you a spark, an idea, an inspiration. Keep what you can use, throw out the rest. And, just to be sure, I didn't mean to be harsh or offend in any way. I really struggle sometimes with correct use of English language.
_/\_

P.S. You might be right about the bit about it being a semantics issue. That thought occurred bo me as well. Also, I appreciate this conversation with you. It makes me reflect on my own progress and things that still need to be developed. Thank you for that.
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