Recently a friend and I parted awkwardly, something akin to storming off and slamming a door. For me it was about something i didn’t “like” about the way we were getting along. Not a big deal in the great scheme of things but a Big Deal for my small mind in that moment. I though that I was right, of course. And that something/someone had to change: not me of course.
With the Eightfold Path the Buddha offers basic instructions on how we can end suffering (a.k.a. unhappiness, anxiety, fear). One of the eight, Right View, says, in essence, that all views are wrong views*. Does this mean we’re not to have any opinions, make no assumptions, assert no point of view? Probably not — after all, he espoused plenty himself over the 40 years as a wandering teacher. The way I understand it, the Buddha draws our attention to ways we create obstacles when we approach any situation — including this piece of writing — with fixed views. In the classic Shobogenzo, 16th century Japanese Zen master Dogen addresses this head-on. He
contrasts the infinity of reality with the restriction of discriminatory thought. Throughout … he demonstrates shifting of perspective, to focus on existence, emptiness, emptiness in existence, existence in emptiness, and their fundamental unity.
I barely grasp a fraction of what he’s saying, but get the hint. If I’m attached to an opinion, chances are it’ll get in the way of clearly seeing all matters, be they objective or subjective.
source: “The scripture of mountains and waters” in Cleary, T. (1986). (trans). Shobogenzo: Zen essays of Dogen. University of Hawai’i Press, p. 87. *I’m grateful to David Brazier for this line in (2001) The feeling Buddha: a Buddhist psychology of character, adversity, and passion. London: Robinson, p. 131.