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Thread: Duality: A "Sticky" Situation

  1. #1

    Duality: A "Sticky" Situation

    Hiya Sangha! Just thought I'd pop in and share something I might submit to The Elephant Journal.

    The counterculture used to say that, "Everybody's got a bag." We all have views. From views like, "It's such a nice day!" "This soup tastes like phlegm," "The sky is blue," to, "All matter came from the stars," or, "The earth is only 6,000 years old." It's very easy to get attached to our views. Certainty makes us feel safe, it makes us feel like there's some solid ground to stand on.

    Right View is one of the stepless steps on the Noble Eightfold Path. According to Zen Master Bon Soeng,

    "Right view means clarity. Right view means letting go of 'my' view to be able to perceive the moment... To see clearly, we have to let go of our own perspective, our own opinion of right and wrong, what I should do and what you should do. If we can let go of that, then it’s possible to have what the Buddha called Right View" (Empty Gate Zen Center, 2014).
    Sometimes you hear that Right View means having no views at all, no opinions or preconceived notions about anything. Sometimes you hear that it merely means not being attached to our views or averse to other views. Both seem very relevant to Shikantaza, the latter seems relevant to day-to-day life.

    From what I've experienced, having a "this and that" perspective helps. It's a nice compromise when pondering a, "neither this nor that perspective." Artichokes are neither good nor bad. I don't like the taste of them, but that doesn't mean that everyone should dislike them. I think they're terrible and some people think they're awesome.

    It's especially easy to get attached to views when we're in a group that endorses a certain mindset. When we're only around people who agree with us, we can forget that not everyone agrees. That's the nature of Group Think (Myers, 2010). Sometimes arguing our views can also increase our attachment to them.

    It's important to remember that all views express an aspect of duality. Tasting that can soften attachment and aversion. Let's say we find a stick that we really like, but we only want the left side of it. We break off the right and toss it on the ground. We smile and then look at the stick again, but realize that there's still a right side. So we snap it in half again, and again, and again until there's only a small nub left that we can't snap. Even that little nub has a right side and a left side. If there's this, there's also that. If there isn't this, there isn't that. In the meantime, while we were snapping away, we lost sight of the Whole stick. We overlooked it's nature and got caught up in concepts. Forgot the, "This and that," and, "neither this nor that," nature of the stick.

    This is how all views are. If someone says, "He's lazy, I'm not going to help him. I worked hard for what I have," they're overlooking the fact that because there is poverty, there is wealth. Because there are slackers, there are hard workers. Let's say we wiped out poverty right now. No one needed state assistance or affordable housing. Well, then we'd just find a new definition for wealth and poverty. We might say someone is poor if they can't afford a Rolls Royce. If everyone put 100% into their work, we'd find a new term for hard workers and slackers. Slackers might be anyone who doesn't work 12 hours a day, five days a week.

    The point here is compassion for those who have different views than us, and remembering that we're all just trying to let go of dissatisfaction. The only way to do that, is to let go of our views. To see through this or that thinking and not this or that thinking. Let go of duality and non-duality. Then, views aren't dangerous to us anymore. Buddha probably didn't do too much teaching until after he sat beneath the Bodhi tree. After that, attachment and aversion to views didn't tempt him anymore. He could teach without getting attached to what he was teaching. Maybe most of all, we should remember not to take ourselves too seriously.

    Gassho, John

    Myers, D. G. (2010). Social psychology (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
    Soeng, B. (2014). Right view is no view. Empty Gate Zen Center. Retrieved from
    Empty Gate Zen Center

  2. #2

    As Timber Hawkeye says, "The opposite of what you know is also true!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye
    You don't have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people's freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, and mental afflictions.


    No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). This is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.

  3. #3
    Nice one! Thanks Stacy.

    Gassho, John

  4. #4
    I sort of agree and disagree. I think I know what you are getting at. When you say ""He's lazy, I'm not going to help him. I worked hard for what I have," they're overlooking the fact that because there is poverty, there is wealth." There is a great imbalance of wealth in the US for sure.. the world for that matter. And money is sort of intangible. How do we decide what's worth what, who should be paid what? It's sort of a game, but a game that we all agree to play to live together in society. But the great thing is that we know this isn't perfect, and there's obviously room for improvement.

    At the same time, I don't completely buy into your notion. For example, "Because there are slackers, there are hard workers." I don't think that I work hard because other people slack off. I guess I understand that the adjective "hard" is comparative in nature. There is no hard without an understanding of soft or, in this sense, lazy, but again regardless of whether others are lazy or not, I consider myself a diligent worker. Obviously, there can be no concept of diligence without a concept of its opposite, without something to compare it to. But I don't think that one's being something is necessitated by someone else having to be some other way. For example, we could all be diligent and hard working.

    Or... I understand what a good writer or articulate writer is; by the very nature of relativity and comparison I will also understand it's opposite. However, I don't think I can extend that understanding of opposite concepts to say that unless there were inarticulate people, you couldn't be articulate. Or unless there were illiterate people, other people couldn't be able to read.

    I do agree that we should loosen our views, give them a lighter grasp. But there are certain views that are more precise than others. Wouldn't you say? For example, if a child told you that your views on walking across the street while there was incoming traffic wasn't dangerous, I wouldn't say correcting that child would be a lack of flexibility.

    So I'm saying that this argument can get specious and we have to clarify what we mean exactly by loosening views.

    I don't know, just some opinions. lol



  5. #5
    Hi John,
    I would choose a simpler example than the poverty debate for the point you are trying to make. The whole issue of poverty is so complex; it will distract from the message of the article.

  6. #6
    Hey Risho,

    Great points! Yeah, you see what I was getting at. Duality is all about concepts. If we were all worked equally as hard, there'd be no such thing as a slacker. Ye there'd also be no such thing as a hard worker... we'd probably just call it working. There's definitely an imbalance of wealth in the world (won't get into that issue though haha) but if we all had the exact same amount of money... the idea of both rich and poor would both go out the window.

    At least, that's my view so it's likely that I could be completely off base haha. Good point, there are some views that no one need argue. Like it being dangerous for a child to walk across a busy street.

    Gassho, John

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