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About having an opinion

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About having an opinion

Postby Rotla on Wed Nov 25, 2015 5:53 pm

Dear teachers,

Lately I experience conflict between expressing my opinion, or what I believe is "truth",( and thereby presenting the opposite opinion as "wrong"), and the value of not being "judgemental". I also seem to remember reading in one of the zen books I read along the way that its best not to have an opinion (or something like that, forgive me if I'm wrong). I often have a strong sense of "right" and "wrong", "good" and "bad", it's a kind of guiding system for me. Should I try to let go of it completely? Or should I keep it, but keep it to myself?

I would appreciate you sharing your thoughts about this.



With gratitude-
Rotla
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Re: About having an opinion

Postby Judy Roitman on Fri Nov 27, 2015 12:01 am

Dear Rotla,

There is a context to your question. What is it? I can't respond to your question unless tell me the context. Without a context there are only a lot of abstractions none of which is clearly defined. Which is how we get ourselves tied in intellectual knots. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Judy
Judy Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, Kwan Um School of Zen
www.kansaszencenter.org
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Re: About having an opinion

Postby Rotla on Fri Nov 27, 2015 8:26 pm

Dear Judy,


The thing is there are a lot of different contexts, starting from small things like giving feedack to my daughter on her singing (she's taking singing lessons), or giving my opinion if one picture is more beautiful than another, to bigger things like not too long ago I told someone that his views are "male-chauvinistic" (and I still hold that opinion..) and he said I was being judgemental, which I had to admit that I was. And naturally there are a lot of discussions in my country about social issues, political issues, the israeli-palestinian conflict, the terror attacks in the world.. where no-matter how "neutral" or "balanced" your opinion would be you'll always find yourself disagreeing with someone. Is it ok for me (as a zen student) to "judge"? Can I get to a point where there is no "judge" in me?

Naturally I can always say its all good and beautiful, but what about giving an honest feedback? Though in matters of art its easier for me to imagine myself seeing it all as beautiful and avoid comparison.
I could avoid telling people if I think their views or actions are wrong, and I could avoid expressing any opinion about social/political matters, but don't I have some kind of responsibility as a citizen of the world to do just that? In these matters its hard for me to imagine myself coming to a point where its all beautiful, though I already acknowledge that it's all human.

You ask me about a context, does that mean that (as a zen student) I can "judge" and express my judgement on certain matters?
Since I haven't reached enlightment just yet.. I cannot control my "judging" , but I I can control expressing it, should I on some matters?
Is there no "rule of thumb", and each situation/context should be considered by itself?

appreciating your patience-
Rotla
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Re: About having an opinion

Postby Guo Gu on Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:50 am

rotla,

opinions are useful. they also change according to different conditions. attachment to them as nonchanging inevitably brings suffering. the thing is, most opinions are self-referential--that is, based on what is good or bad to me. in buddhism, selfless opinions are functions of wisdom. wisdom is a natural response to what is needed at the moment, based on the conditions at hand. the buddha had "opinions" (but we called them wisdom) about his disciples and what they needed to hear/learn; he thus gave teachings according to the dispositions of his disciples--not according to what he wanted to teach them.

good/bad, beautiful/ugly, useful/unuseful are not real things out there. they're also not fixed self-referential things inside us... they have their usefulness depending on the situations and the dispositions of others involved. for example, giving constructive criticism may help another person (if s/he is ready to receive such criticism) to change. recognizing social inequities and doing something about it can help change the world. yet in all this, we must realize that what appears to be harmful or unjust is not so simply one-sided--in the broader scope of things, they may actually be the cause of goodness so even when we engage in social justice we're not self-righteously attached to it as the right way.

as you practice, if you practice correctly, you will find that you have opinions about this and that but you're not fixed on them. you may also find that these opinions are less centered on me, mine, or i but more on what is called for. in other words, your self is not in the way when you relate to others and the world. one litmus test for practice is when others disagree with you, blame you, challenge you, see if you get upset or all worked up? if you do, then self-referentiality is present. make sense?

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: About having an opinion

Postby Judy Roitman on Sat Nov 28, 2015 8:30 am

Hi, Rotla. You've exactly made my point. It is all contextual. When my grandmother asked if she looked good she was looking for confirmation --- "Oh, Baba, you look beautiful." When I ask my husband if I look good I want feedback --- "Those colors don't quite work." "Thank you!" As for politics etc., sometimes we agree with the people we're talking to and sometimes we don't. How could it be otherwise? But can we actually listen to each other? I have a friend who is a Tea Party Republican. But it is interesting that when we actually talk about politics, her right wing views and my left wing views come from the same concerns, it's just that each of us has a different analysis of the problem --- she is suspicious of government, I am suspicious of corporations. But deep down we want the same things for society.

Guo Gu's point about holding our opinions etc. lightly, recognizing that they change, is very important. My teacher called this don't know mind. Fundamentally we don't know anything. Fundamentally it is impossible to know anything. The world is much wider than our thinking minds. To become comfortable with this, to be able to use our thinking minds without being trapped by them --- that is the point. That is an important aspect of waking up (a phrase I like much better than "enlightement" since waking up is something you do, over and over, plus it is etymologically more accurate since that's what the Sanskrit "bodh" actually means: awake).

I encourage you to practice, to wake up over and over again, and to develop the wisdom which is deeper than thoughts and opinions and which the only real hope of helping this suffering world.

Best,

Judy
Judy Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, Kwan Um School of Zen
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Re: About having an opinion

Postby Rotla on Sun Nov 29, 2015 10:58 am

Guo Gu and Judy,

Thank you for clearing it up for me.
I'm relieved to hear that having an opinion doesn't automatically mean I'm going the wrong way.
I was having doubts because of the idea of being beyond duality.


Appreciating your guidance -

__/\__

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