OK; Jeff talked about being on the razors edge between viewpoints and he is kind of right.
I tend to be able to hold multiple seemingly conflicting viewpoints at the same time, which is surprisingly not a sign of schizophrenia, and is also a desirable quality for executives…
Anyway, Ajan Bram (who I feel a great deal of gratitude to) has a great story about this which have listened to via podcast made available through the BSWA. I don’t remember which podcast or I would link it here so you could get it straight from him. But in I think a traditional sense I will just try and repeat it here:
In an old monastery a couple of monks were having an argument about Buddhist doctrine. The subject of the doctrine in question was the relevance of re-birth to the teaching and understanding of the Dharma.
One monk said that it was traditional and passed down from the Buddha and was essential to the teachings of Karma and ethics and many other interconnected teachings.
The other monk was sure that those teachings were just provisional and that the true message of the Buddha was for us just to act here and be mindful in the present moment. And that all those provisional teachings just confused people and could be a hindrance to enlightenment. So they get in brouhaha and finally the first monk says fine! I say you wrong and I’m right and we can’t find a middle way. I am going to take my argument to the Abbot!
So the first monk makes his case to the Abbot saying the teaching of rebirth was a tradition passed down from the Pali texts and is essential to the teachings of Karma and ethics and many other interconnected teachings, yada, yada, yada.
The abbot agrees and says “Yeah your right.”
So the first monk goes to the other monk and tells him that “The abbot says I am right so therefore you are wrong.”
Well the second monk was not going to take that! So he storms up to the Abbot and makes his case that the Buddha wanted people to be mindful of that the true message of the Buddha was for us just to act here and be mindful in the present moment. And that all those provisional teachings just confused people and could be a hindrance to enlightenment, yada, yada, yada…
And the Abbot says “yeah, your right”
So the monk excitedly rushes out to tell the first monk that the abbot agrees with me (the second monk) and there for you are wrong!
The first monk protests that the abbot says he is right and the second says no I’m right and the brouhaha continues until a senior monk gets fed up with the ruckus and sends them both to the Abbot.
So now our monks are in front of the abbot and make their cases the first monk exclaiming that the Abbot told him he was right and the second making the same claim and now they want some explanation because surely they can’t both be right…
And the abbot says….”Yeah, your right”
A lot of times people get polarized by their views and they find them in conflict with the views of another. Arguing with the other person just seems to cement them into their way of thinking so it is usually pointless to try and change their point of view directly unless they are actually open to it. What I have found is that often times both sides of an apparently polarized view has merit. I was going to put an example up, but I have decided to abstain. There seem to be plenty of examples pretty much everywhere I see an argument.
I got to get back to work now!