The Fear of Misunderstanding What Is Right
Once we become convinced that something is right, we come to believe that the idea is our own and nobody else’s and that our idea is special and the only correct one even though it is just one of many.
Even if the idea is mistaken and we know it, we are reluctant to admit it. What is worse, if somebody else pointed out as a mistake, we have even more difficulty to admit it. Why? It is because the idea has become equal to us.
That our own idea is pointed out as mistaken is what we ourselves deny. If we deny it, it becomes difficult for us to live and thus we strive to defend ourselves. In order to defend ourselves, we believe that our idea must be corrected by all means. This is called “attachment,” which means our minds cling to our possessions or to ourselves.
When everybody clings to their own idea, uncontrollable conflicts occur. Since we believe that only we are right, we think that everybody else’s idea is wrong. People do not accept the ideas of others and vice versa. If so nobody can attain satisfaction. Nevertheless, nobody gets rid of their attachments. We prefer conflict and discontent rather than being denied the comfort of our convictions.
What Should Be Done Now?
When we reflect on ourselves, we will actually realize how hard it is to get rid of our attachments. As this parable of the raft indicates, we should not cling to even what is right and sometimes we should abandon it and leave it behind. It goes without saying that the same is true for what is wrong.
Then, how should we treat the raft?
“This raft enabled me to cross the river safely. What a useful raft, indeed! Now I will just leave it here or let it sink in the water and start walking towards my destination.”
Those who can think in this way are the ones who understand the raft properly. The raft is for crossing a river, not for shouldering after that. If the raft served its purpose, we should leave it behind with gratitude and without any attachment to it.
To Advance From One Subject To Another as We Learn
There are various stages of human development and each stage requires a proper teaching.
Even if the teaching was appropriate in the previous stage, it might be inappropriate for the next stage, which deserves a new and proper teaching. If we are wedded to the teaching for the previous stage and excessively cling to it, we might fail to adjust ourselves to a new stage.
Without fixation to the teachings of the previous stage, we should leave them behind with gratitude and should turn our attention to learn and practice a new teaching for each new stage.
Learning the Wisdom of Enlightenment, Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai and BDK America, 2019, Moraga.