No me, no you

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The big consequence of dualistic thinking is that it creates barriers. We manufacture barriers in our mind, and these barriers make us believe that one something is better than another. This is also called “opposites thinking” in Buddhism. So my family is more important to me than your family, and my country is better than your country.

For Buddhism, the dualism between life and death is only one instance of a more general problem, dualistic thinking. Why is dualistic thinking a problem? We differentiate between good and evil, success and failure, life and death, and so forth because we want to keep the one and reject the other. But we cannot have one without the other because they are interdependent: affirming one half also maintains the other. (From The nonduality of life and death: A Buddhist view of repression, by David Loy, 1990.)

Yesterday I saw a man lying on the street, bleeding, unconscious. There had been a terrible traffic accident. He’s in critical condition in the hospital today. I don’t know him. I wasn’t able to help him, because I have no medical training.

I heard the crash. I saw him fly off his motorbike and slide at sickening speed across the pavement.

I’ve been wondering how soldiers in a ground war can stand it. Obviously our brains can adapt, can alter reality so that we — some of us, any of us — can go out to a battle zone and see death and suffering of that magnitude every day, and yet continue, survive, and go out again tomorrow.

There is no difference between me and the man bleeding on the pavement. He is not an “other.” He is not separate from me.

Breathe.

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7 responses

  1. Dear Breathe,
    I chanced upon your blog and have now read most of your posts. Your beautiful pictures, your gentle words and the pertinent quotes you use made me feel quite peaceful (Where do you get such beautiful pictures?). Thank you for a really meditative blog. Ill look forward to reading it regularly.
    S, Dhammika

  2. Thank you, Dhammika. The photos come from Flickr.com. If you choose an “advanced” search there, you can limit a search to photos that you are permitted to re-publish, under a Creative Commons license. Each photo here is linked to the original. So if you like one, you can easily see others by the same photographer.