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Judgment vs. Discernment

ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran
edited February 2012 in Buddhism for Beginners
What is the difference between judgement vs. discernment? I've been trying to monitor my mind as I go throughout the day and label my judgments whenever they come up, hoping I can train my brain to just discern reality instead of making judgments about it. But I'm not sure if I quite know the difference. Or is there a difference?

Comments

  • Judgement is personal. Discernment is impersonal.

    First thing that came to mind.
  • Discernment is being able to see what IS, judgement is filtering that through a good-bad duality.
  • Another good question, Clay. I decided to start with some definitions:

    Discern: to recognize or identify as separate or distinct, to discriminate (to discern right from wrong) To come to know or recognize mentally (to discern someone's motives) To see or understand the difference (to discern the best choice)

    Judge: To form an opinion after careful consideration (judging character) To determine or declare after consideration, To form an opinion or evaluation


    I'm not sure this helps. It does show how we tend to load the word "judge" with...well...judgments. It often has a negative connotation, but it's neutral in those definitions.
  • . It does show how we tend to load the word "judge" with...well...judgments. It often has a negative connotation, but it's neutral in those definitions.

    Yes, true. Perhaps it's about making judgements without being judgemental?
  • Discernment is being able to see what IS, judgement is filtering that through a good-bad duality.
    I'm not sure it's that clear cut because discernment also implies good-bad judgement.
  • I will take a crack at it : (sigh)

    Judgement is a mind capacity. It is helpful and you need it in order to survive. Don't we use it in order to measure the distance between vehicles when we drive, how much of a certain ingredient to compound in labs and etc...there is nothing wrong with using it in practical matters.

    When you judge a situation, person, or place or even an idea without tempering it with wisdom and kindness, it becomes assumptions. . . This gets you into trouble.

    I don't know everything, I don't have all the answers, need more information and experience.

    ^^ this is my mantra.
  • I think discernment is a process where you dont have to make a conclusion... you just deal with what is on your plate at any given moment - in that sense it is passive.

    Judgment though I guess is active - you end up in a fixed position with a conclusion?

    Judgments are alright but I guess you need to be prepared to unravel them - discernments are also alright but I guess sometimes you need a longer term goal to work towards...
  • I will take a crack at it : (sigh)

    Judgement is a mind capacity. It is helpful and you need it in order to survive. Don't we use it in order to measure the distance between vehicles when we drive, how much of a certain ingredient to compound in labs and etc...there is nothing wrong with using it in practical matters.

    When you judge a situation, person, or place or even an idea without tempering it with wisdom and kindness, it becomes assumptions. . . This gets you into trouble.

    I don't know everything, I don't have all the answers, need more information and experience.

    ^^ this is my mantra.
    I'd say that what you're describing is discernment. Judgement would come after in that once we measure (or discern) the distance between vehicles we then make the judgment as to whether that distance is safe or not.
  • Perhaps then we should be in a constant discerning state and make judgments moment by moment (thereby not attaching to them).

    Could a judgment itself then be correctly defined as an 'attachment' whereas a discerning state as 'mindfulness'?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    Judgement is clinging.
    Discernment is non-clinging.
    Judgement is definitive.
    Discernment is flexible.
    judgement is oak.
    Discernment is willow.
  • ClayTheScribeClayTheScribe Veteran
    edited February 2012
    Perhaps then we should be in a constant discerning state and make judgments moment by moment (thereby not attaching to them).

    Could a judgment itself then be correctly defined as an 'attachment' whereas a discerning state as 'mindfulness'?
    Yeah I think that's ultimate goal. What I really wanted to ask was how do you get there? Just be more mindful of your judgments? I want to get to a point where I discern reality instead of making judgments about it.

    Although I think my real problem is that I'm always trying to get to a point rather than just being here now, but you know what I mean?
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    of course, these processes are purely mental machinations. they become more 'concrete' when you add verbal comment or you act upon these mental machinations....
  • Hmmmmm - how do you get there??? fed's explanation is one way there... but does that take account of your thoughts - well, not an issue if you're in a state of mindfulness... so yep - there's a neat summary there... but its top down!!

    So bottom up....???

    Extending your meditative practice so you are mindful in everyday life is probably not a bad start... catching yourself when youre forming judgments is another - I guess if you practice both you will be more mindful and less judgmental - sounds like a good start!

    The more I read your post, the more it seems that you may have answered your own question in your ultimate paragraph!

    If youre always trying to get to a point then maybe you need judgments to guide your steps (to make sure youre atleast on track to your point from past experience) - if youre just being here now then would you have time to form a judgment and what would be the point anyway, as soon as you formed it, the moment would be gone and you'd have to start again... oooops missed that moment too!
  • Judgment and discernment sounds very similar, based on dictionary definitions. In some contexts, the words would be interchangeable. I think it's mainly our own projections onto them that make them seem different, where judgment may seem "bad" to some, like a negative thing.

    "To use good judgment" and "to use discernment" are pretty much the same thing, value-free.
  • The question to be answered is: "What leads to suffering and what leads to freedom? What is for my long term welfare and benefit?"

    To be or not to be, that is the question.
    To fight or give way? Use your judgement wisely.
  • For me, it seems that judgment is putting an emotional label on something or someone, while discernment is seeing the world as it truly is and putting a non-emotional label on something or someone like "man," "woman," "tree," "bear" instead of "attractive man," "ugly woman," "disgusting tree," "stupid, mean bear." But even these labels of discernment will have to fall by the way side eventually.
  • We've spoken often about the need to discern between a qualified or unqualified teacher, and discernment in other contexts where it means making a wise choice between something appropriate or inappropriate. Discerning someone's true nature, for example, is the same thing as you attribute to the word "judge", @ClayTheScribe. It sounds as though the word "judge" upsets you, judging by the words you use: "disgusting", "ugly", "stupid,mean". These are strong words. The word "judge" does not imply a put-down.
  • In order for an emotional label to be put on the word, someone needs to do the putting. I found the dictionary definitions to be quite revealing in that regard. I thought it was quite clear that there are no negative connotations to the words "judge" or "judgment". That fact in turn revealed our own tendencies to project meanings, emotions, or judgments on words.
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