"(...) The Buddhist way is a way of 'no fixed position'. There is no position that one takes as a Buddhist. That is a strange one isn't it? We are not asked to believe in Buddha, there is no for or against, no affirming or denying. We watch any attachments to Buddhism. We may think; 'Buddhism is the best!' Or; 'It's probably worthless.' From the ideal position we may think: 'I shouldn't have any opinions at all; one shouldn't have opinions or views.' But that is another opinion. Having no fixed position is not another position, but a reflection on any position. It is a great relief to the heart, really, not to feel that we have to know everything or have everything, and not to have to defend actions. I have found myself being very defencive about my way of life, trying to justify it, trying to make other people understand, trying to prove that it is right. Some opinions may be right, some wrong, but when we grasp them as absolutely right or absolutely wrong, then we are deluded by them."
"Grasping, trying to make absolutes out of relative truths, makes everything go wrong. We need to know what is absolute and what is relative, what is ultimate reality and what is relative reality. By fixing on a particular doctrine, for example, we make what is relative into an absolute. And because it can never be absolute, we have to defend it, try to convince ourselves and everyone else that it is so. I say: 'This is absolutely true and you'd better believe it'. And someone else says; 'No, it's not; it's only relative.' And I say; 'IT'S TRUE! IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE!' My voice gets louder to drown him out because he is putting a doubt into my mind. Then someone else agrees with me: 'Venerable Sumedho, that's absolutely true! You're absolutely right!' 'Good, good. He agrees with me.' Then I say: 'Don't talk to that other person because he might put doubts into your mind.'"
"Once we have a fixed view, we can get ourselves so deeply involved, it just mushrooms into enormous problems. If we do not have a fixed position and yet find ourselves attaching viewpoints and arguing about them, then we can reflect on the anxiety and insecurity which arises when someone threatens our position. The skillful thing is not to argue, because we are just spouting view and opinions that other people have given us."
"Ideals can, of course, be used skilfully as guides, goals and inspiration, but as soon as we attach to any of them, then we are fixed. And what happens when we are fixed to even the highest ideal? We become critical of ourselves and others. We talk about universal compassion: 'We must have compassion for all sentient beings.' Then somebody annoys me, and I say: 'Shut up and get out of here!' Sometimes it is easier to have compassion for all sentient beings than for one annoying one."
"Why is that? Because ideals are not emotions: they are high-minded and refined. Our emotions can be very coarse. To have compassion for a mass of people we are never likely to meet - there is no emotion in that, there is no threat. But if millions of people were suddenly come and live here at this centre, then it would be a real trial! To have to feel compassion for millions of them all squeezing in might bring about a few uncompassionate thoughts and feelings! As long as they remain over there, it is easy. So, we can feel compassion for all beings and the next moment we want to murder someone. The ideal is still there, even in the mind that wants to murder. Ideals, you see, do not have blood in their veins. Millions of people we are unlikely to meet are not people with blood in their veins. The person threatening us with a knife - that is someone with real blood in his veins, and we have real blood in ours that can get very disturbed and violent."
"If we reflect in this way, we get a perspective into hypocrisy. I have seen it in myself. A fixed view: 'I'm right! I'm right! The other's wrong!' And I have to prove I am right; I will not give an inch. That kind of position just breeds conflict. All I can do is try to drag people into agreeing with me and try to defend myself against those who do not agree. What is that? That is a war, isn't it? And usually it is about some unimportant thing. I decided some time ago that there was no point in spending my life trying to do that any more - it seemed to be just an endless thing, endless opportunities for conflict in the sensual world. One day I decided it would be better to live a moral life and not to make problems about things. There are certain things worth standing up for and upholding even to the death, and there are other things that are not worth the bother. And yet we can spend our lives trying to defend not very important things."
"By reflecting, we can see our own weaknesses. This takes honesty and truthfulness; we have to be willing to look at our own fears and anxieties. (...)"Robert Anton Wilson explains reality tunnels by dreaming in the void Thich Nhat Hanh - What is Nirvana? by dreaming in the void