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Thread: Opinions, social debates and deluded self-views

  1. #1

    Opinions, social debates and deluded self-views

    Many believe that Buddhism does not encourage opinions, since these are often based upon (deluded) self-views, and so Buddhists should not be expected to contribute to social debates or make any sort of public statements.

    Anybody care to comment?

    Gassho

  2. #2
    If we weren't to have and hold opinions, how could we choose Buddhism?

  3. #3
    Jun,
    I have a problem when anyone says something like “Many Believe” or “They Say” and the like, I think it best not to rely on that sort of thing. I think it is OK to have an opinion, as long as it is based on observation and analysis. I tend to think it would be pretty hard not to have an opinion, as having no opinion is kind of an opinion in itself.

    As to not getting involved in public debate and social issues, I think that those are important contributions to society. If we are to be a part of that society than we have to contribute something.

    My $0.02

    Gassho,
    Jordan

  4. #4
    Many levels ...

    We have opinions

    All opinions are dropped

    We have opinions again

    All simultaneously true. So, opinions and no opinions, hand in hand. Might we say "non-opinions"?

    And, hopefully, most of those opinions will be in keeping with the Precepts.

    Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    My understanding is that Buddhism doesn't say there is anything wrong with opinions, but that we shouldn't hold too tightly to our opinions . . .we should be prepared to let them go if that is what needs to happen or voice them if that is what needs to happen. I do, however, think that constructive speech is important even if we are voicing a strong opposition to someone else's ideas. If things are out of whack, we should say so, but use the most skillful speech we can muster so as to not get bogged down in malicious speech.
    I think American culture promotes the idea that we should have opinions about almost everything and that those opinions are important. I disagree. There are few people who are educated enough about some issues to have anything resembling an educated opinion (I'm thinking of something complex like stem cell research). A question like "What is your opinion on ______?" is often an invitation from one party to enter into a discussion about matters about which they know very little.
    All things in moderation, including opinions.

    On my soap box,
    Bill

  6. #6
    One of my personally favorite talks on this subject ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/06 ... -xxxv.html

    Gassho, Rev Jimmy Joe Jundo

    PS- From the Xin Xin Ming, attributed to the Third Chinese Chan/Zen Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan ( Japanese: Kanchi Sosan). Here is his opinion ....

    The Way of the supreme is not difficult,

    If only people will give up preferences, forsake picking and choosing.

    Like not, dislike not.

    Be illuminated.

    If you are off by a millimeter,

    You will be off by as much as earth is separate from heaven.

    If you want to see Truth,

    Call no life experience favorable or unfavorable.

    To be caught between favorable and unfavorable

    Is the sickness of the mind.

    If you miss this key point,

    Any practice of meditation would only be a waste of time.

  7. #7
    I think that we get into trouble when we mistake "opinion" with "truth".

    Expressing reasoned opinion and engaging in informed debate is a creative excercise that can expand the ideas of all participants.

    If a Buddhist is not informed enough to hold an opinion (as Bill says... Don't Know!), the best course might be to contribute to the debate by asking questions. If the questions are the right ones, the participants may begin to tease out the threads that separate opinion from truth.

    Mind you, some questions are probably not worth debating... Should I really care if my computer is a PC or a Mac?

    Steve

  8. #8
    Hi,

    I have been reading these posts closely, and I want to add my opinion ...

    I tend to think it would be pretty hard not to have an opinion, as having no opinion is kind of an opinion in itself.

    It is my opinion that "dropping all opinions" (in a Buddhist sense) is not "having no opinion" (being ambivalent or undecided). The rocks and trees "have no opinion", but I would not call them "undecided."

    One core of our Buddhist Practice is, thoroughly, dropping all opinions, categorizations, thoughts of this and that, likes and dislikes. "Dropping all opinions" is not a kind of opinion in itself. It is being, beyond all opinions and distinctions.

    That being said, human life is having opinions, making distinctions, having likes and dislikes. Two sides of a single coin. We sure can decide to participate in politics, or decide not to, on this other level of choices.

    My understanding is that Buddhism doesn't say there is anything wrong with opinions, but that we shouldn't hold too tightly to our opinions . . .we should be prepared to let them go if that is what needs to happen or voice them if that is what needs to happen.

    I believe that Buddhism does teach that we should be beyond opinions (that there is something "wrong" with opinions) and that we need not be beyond opinions (that there is nothing "wrong" with opinions). But, yes, with regard to the opinions which we do hold, we should also be not attached and, thus, prepared to let them go if needed.

    I think American culture promotes the idea that we should have opinions about almost everything and that those opinions are important. I disagree. There are few people who are educated enough about some issues to have anything resembling an educated opinion (I'm thinking of something complex like stem cell research). A question like "What is your opinion on ______?" is often an invitation from one party to enter into a discussion about matters about which they know very little.
    All things in moderation, including opinions.


    I live between two societies: America, where people tend to have "too many" opinions and to think that there must be a "right" opinion on every subject ... and Japan, where people sometimes have a frustrating lack of opinions, and not care what is "right" even when, perhaps, they should. Yes, all things in moderation, including opinions.

    But my opinion that Buddhism is also beyond all opinions, that opinions must be dropped ... my opinion is RIGHT!

    If a Buddhist is not informed enough to hold an opinion (as Bill says... Don't Know!), the best course might be to contribute to the debate by asking questions. If the questions are the right ones, the participants may begin to tease out the threads that separate opinion from truth

    This is not particularly Buddhism, just a good and educated approach. I agree with you completely.

    But what Buddhism adds is that "dropping all opinions" is also TRUTH. It is a TRUTH beyond right and wrong, true or false. It is the TRUTH of 'just what is". So, we have the truth that 1 plus 2 = 3. Then we have the truth beyond all thought of 0,1,2,3 etc.

    Got the point of my opinion?

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    Let me add that Buddhists may sometimes not have opinions like other people have.

    For example, some folks might want to debate whether their religion and god is "true" while the religion and god of other people is "false".

    In the face of that kind of debate, Buddhists might simply drop all thought of religion/no religion and which god is which ... and just smile.

    Something like that.

    I am going to do the talk on the netcast about this topic today.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Let me add that Buddhists may sometimes not have opinions like other people have.

    For example, some folks might want to debate whether their religion and god is "true" while the religion and god of other people is "false".

    In the face of that kind of debate, Buddhists might simply drop all thought of religion/no religion and which god is which ... and just smile.

    Something like that.

    I am going to do the talk on the netcast about this topic today.
    and
    I think American culture promotes the idea that we should have opinions about almost everything and that those opinions are important. I disagree. There are few people who are educated enough about some issues to have anything resembling an educated opinion (I'm thinking of something complex like stem cell research). A question like "What is your opinion on ______?" is often an invitation from one party to enter into a discussion about matters about which they know very little.
    I can relate very much to these statements. More and more, despite my acceptance of the necessity for personal opinion, I have found myself sometimes refraining from generating them. In my mind, if an opinion on an issue is not going to serve a productive purpose, then there is little reason to create and carry it; especially as I come to accept my own ignorance of most issues .

    Gassho

  11. #11
    Jundo, Thanks for that, I wanted to go that way too but decided against it.

    Gassho,
    Jordan

  12. #12
    I wrote ...

    One core of our Buddhist Practice is, thoroughly, dropping all opinions, categorizations, thoughts of this and that, likes and dislikes. "Dropping all opinions" is not a kind of opinion in itself. It is being, beyond all opinions and distinctions.

    As it is such a radical dropping of opinions, categorizations etc., I should perhaps have said that "it is being, beyond being or not being".

    That's pretty RAD!

    Hamlet: "To be or not to be ...."

    Zen Teacher: "Drop the question!"

    Gassho, J

  13. #13
    Thank you all for your comments, and thank you Jundő for choosing to talk about this in your talk.

    My original statement stems firstly from the apparent monopoly on Buddhist truth that certain (I don't need to mention them) groups seem to portray to the world.

    It also comes from an argument that is brewing back in Australia on WHO (from the Buddhist community) is to be asked for opinions on certain (social) issues, and whether or not Buddhists CAN offer opinions.

    Frequently there are requests for opinions or some form of representation of Buddhists as a whole coming from both public and government bodies. The Buddhist community seems divided on whether or not Buddhists should offer any opinion at all, either individually or as a collective.

  14. #14
    When I was 5 years old, I ran into my kindergarten teacher at the grocery store. She greeted me by name, and I ran away and hid behind my mother until she went away. My mom couldn't figure out why I was being so rude, but I was just completely unable to process the sight of a teacher outside of the school. Don't they live there? And grocery shopping... you mean teachers eat food too?

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