EBT texts quoting the Buddha on how to make decisions

Hi good friends,

it has been a while, but I had a question about EBT texts on

In one of his talks, Ajahn Brahm quoted the Buddha as giving guidance on how to make decisions, which is (something like) “make sure your mind is free from desire, ill-will, fear & delusion, when you are deciding”.

I tried searching on Suttacentral for this, but am not able to find the text around this. Would anyone be able to help on this please, especially Ajahn @Brahmali & Ajahn @sujato please?

With much metta,
PJ

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Check out this one:

https://suttacentral.net/mn61/en/sujato

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Nice recommendation! One question: Why is the Pali so long on this verse:

‘Does this act of speech that I want to do lead to hurting myself, hurting others, or hurting both? …’ …
‘yannu kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ kattukāmo idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ attabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya, parabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya—
akusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ dukkhudrayaṁ dukkhavipākan’ti?
Sace tvaṁ, rāhula, paccavekkhamāno evaṁ jāneyyāsi:
‘yaṁ kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ kattukāmo idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ attabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya, parabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya—
akusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ dukkhudrayaṁ dukkhavipākan’ti, evarūpaṁ te, rāhula, vācāya kammaṁ sasakkaṁ na karaṇīyaṁ.
Sace pana tvaṁ, rāhula, paccavekkhamāno evaṁ jāneyyāsi:
‘yaṁ kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ kattukāmo idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ nevattabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya, na parabyābādhāyapi saṁvatteyya—
kusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ sukhudrayaṁ sukhavipākan’ti, evarūpaṁ te, rāhula, vācāya kammaṁ karaṇīyaṁ.
Karontenapi te, rāhula, vācāya kammaṁ tadeva te vacīkammaṁ paccavekkhitabbaṁ:
‘yannu kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ karomi idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ attabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, parabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati—
akusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ dukkhudrayaṁ dukkhavipākan’ti?
Sace pana tvaṁ, rāhula, paccavekkhamāno evaṁ jāneyyāsi:
‘yaṁ kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ karomi idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ attabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, parabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati—
akusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ dukkhudrayaṁ dukkhavipākan’ti, paṭisaṁhareyyāsi tvaṁ, rāhula, evarūpaṁ vacīkammaṁ.
Sace pana tvaṁ, rāhula, paccavekkhamāno evaṁ jāneyyāsi:
‘yaṁ kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ karomi idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ nevattabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, na parabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, na ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati—
kusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ sukhudrayaṁ sukhavipākan’ti, anupadajjeyyāsi tvaṁ, rāhula, evarūpaṁ vacīkammaṁ.
Katvāpi te, rāhula, vācāya kammaṁ tadeva te vacīkammaṁ paccavekkhitabbaṁ:
‘yannu kho ahaṁ idaṁ vācāya kammaṁ akāsiṁ idaṁ me vacīkammaṁ attabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, parabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati, ubhayabyābādhāyapi saṁvattati—
akusalaṁ idaṁ vacīkammaṁ dukkhudrayaṁ dukkhavipākan’ti?

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That’s because the English is abbreviated. Bhante Sujato’s abbreviation is especially brief. You can see a more complete version in this translation. But beware, there is a rather serious error in the part on having done a bad mental action.
https://suttacentral.net/mn61/en/horner

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Thanks very much!
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the sutta I was looking for: my impression is that the sutta in question is a lot shorter, so it is most likely a SN or AN text.

I’m seeing that in many suttas. Some seems to be saying more stuff.

Discernment is the ability to make wise decisions. The practical process is described in full in this sutta:

"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality arose in me. I discerned that ‘Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.’—MN 19

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Hi PJ,

I don’t think there is any one sutta that makes this claim. Rather, the idea emerges from a number of interrelated considerations. An important one is the idea that saṅkhāra, "the will " or “choices”, is conditioned by avijjā, “delusion”. Avijjā in turn is conditioned by the five hindrances (AN 10.61). The implication is that the quality of the choice is inversely proportional to the strength of the hindrances.

A similar argument could perhaps be made from SN 46.55, where the Buddha tells a brahmin that you are unable to remember hymns when the hindrances are strong. It seems to me that the inability to remember is related to bad judgment and therefore bad decision-making. When your mind is clouded, it affects all mental faculties.

I think the idea also follows from how kamma works. When your mind is flooded with defilements, you tend to make bad kamma, even if you know it will have bad consequences. Your ability to make good decisions is impaired by your vested interest in the object of your desire or ill will. It is my experience that most people want to be kind, yet often they just can’t help themselves making bad decisions. The conditioning of the defilements is strong.

I suspect you are searching for a pithy quote. I am afraid this is the best I can do.

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This is from the vinaya.

It’s referenced in bhikkhuni sanghadisesas 11 and 17, and in bhikkhu sanghadisesa 13. I believe that it is explicitely stated in the instructions on how to choose sangha officials. They need to be people who carry out their duties in an impartial way, not based on greed, hatred, delusion and fear.

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It also reminds me of the Kusinārasutta.

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Thank you very much Ajahn!

Thank you very much Ayya @vimalanyani and Ajahn @Brahmali ! And also to @Snowbird @paul1 @Upasaka_Dhammasara

I think I might have found the text! SuttaCentral

“Bhikkhus, there are these four ways of taking a wrong course. What four? One takes a wrong course because of desire, because of hatred, because of delusion, or because of fear. These are the four ways of taking a wrong course.”

If through desire, hate, fear, or delusion
one transgresses against the Dhamma,
one’s fame diminishes like the moon
in the dark fortnight.
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