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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 21 Unruly beings are like space, There’s not enough time to overcome them. overcoming these angry thoughts is like defeating all of our enemies. — Shantideva the buddha sat beneath the bodhi tree on the eve of his enlightenment and was assailed by mara, representing all of the afflictions we meet in the landscape of our minds: worry and restlessness, dullness and resistance, craving, aversion, and doubt. the one affliction that did not make an appearance in this story is the powerful voice of the inner critic—the inner judge that can torment us on a daily basis, undermining our well-being and dis- torting our relationship with life. the inner critic is the voice of shame, blame, belittlement, aversion, and contempt. to many of us, it is so familiar that it seems almost hardwired into our hearts. before exploring the nature of the judgmental mind, it is essential to mark the distinction between the voice of the inner critic and our capacity for discernment and discriminating wisdom. Silencing the Inner Critic The nagging, negative voice of self-judgment, says chRiStina FeldMan, is a powerful affliction best met with courage, kindness, and understanding. discriminating wisdom is what brings us to our cushion to medi- tate and inspires us to act in ways that bring suffering and harm to an end. discriminating wisdom is the source of every wise act and word. discernment draws upon ethics, compassion, and wisdom and teaches us moment by moment to discover the buddha in our- selves and in others. the inner critic is a creature of a different nature. With the in- ner critic, we may still come to our cushion but we come accom- panied by a story that tells us we are unworthy or inadequate. With the inner critic, we still act, speak, and make choices, yet we feel endlessly criticized. the judgmental mind draws not upon all that is wise, but upon mara: the patterns of aversion, doubt, ill will, and fear. rarely is the judgmental heart the source of wise action or speech, nor does it lead to the end of suffering. the judgmental mind is suffering and compounds suffering. discriminating wisdom is essential and must be cultivated. the judging mind is optional; it can be understood and released. thomas merton, the great Christian mystic described the es- sence of the spiritual path as a search for truth that springs from “broodInGWoman”bypablopICasso.dIGItalImaGe©themuseumofmodernart/lICensedbysCala/artresourCe,ny.©pICassoestate/sodraC2009.