If we think about it, we are more attached to a Quid Pro Quo view of life than we think. Latin for “something for something”, or “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine,” sometimes takes on an illicit connotation, maybe like a bribe. But I’m betting we have a deep belief in this concept in our daily lives, a belief that when it turns into thoughts, words or deeds causes suffering.
In talking about the Right View (see Tanaka excerpt below) we are invited to become aware of our understanding of life, of the Four Noble Truths, and then examine this understanding, to explore if my understanding, my view is valid. We don’t have to wait until we have time for contemplating philosophical questions – we are handed the opportunity constantly.
Buddhism does not demand or require blind faith, just the opposite. The Buddha never asks we accept his teachings because he taught them. We are told to examine them for ourselves, to find if they ring true to our life. Considering if our view includes an attachment to Quid Pro Quo may help us become more aware of views we hold.
Who has not heard someone complaining “…after all I’ve done for ‘x’ and now I ask one simple favor and all of a sudden ‘x’ gives a lame excuse not to do it!” Then, the dark thunder cloud of our attachment to Quid Pro Quo rolls in and parks itself right over our heads and makes us miserable or angry.
It happens all the time. This is our teaching moment, when that anger or misery takes over. If we can, we become aware enough to examine this view of expectations of how ‘x’ ought to behave. We examine why we believe in an exchange of something for something.
Following the Eightfold Noble Path is not easy; it asks us to examine ourselves, to examine our views and our understanding of this life. If we can see this in others, then we can begin to identify it in ourselves. The first Noble Truth, attachment to desires takes many forms. Attachment to a view that is counterproductive and awareness of it may be the first small step to chipping away that attachment.
A surprising then then happens, liberation. For me, it is learning that I do something because I choose to do it, regardless. The liberation is from dependence on ‘x.’ And this liberation helps reduce suffering.
So unless we are little porcupines, we have patterns of scratching one another’s backs with expectations of a favor returned. When the reality of these expectations of someone meets up with the reality of their actions we can use them as gifts to become aware, and perhaps even thank that person.