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It feels right
January 4th, 2016

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

It feels right…
(Advanced teaching)

   When you assess some view on an action you just did or are about to do, or some view on a thought you just had, as a view "feeling right", such a feeling only means you're satisfied with the grasping: you got a 'good' grip on the view, so you're satisfied you'll be able to cling to it in the face of potential challenges. You're satisfied you won't have to change your mind too quickly, you're satisfied you've earned some sort of permanence, of reliability.
   That's obviously not how you interpret it though… You interpret it as some kind of faith, of trust, of confidence. You interpret it as an intuitive confirmation that "it makes sense",  that "it's true",  that "it's the right thing to do/say/think"…  You do not interpret it as a clinging, a refusal to enquire, a lack of openness, a lack of curiosity.
   But at the end of the day, being wrong "feels" exactly the same as being right… until it doesn't! It's very simple to convince yourself of this: you only need to recall a day when you were sure of something only to realise later that you were wrong! Before being proven wrong, you were sure of yourself, you did trust your view, you had faith in your knowledge, your reasoning, your intuition, or even your 'unbiased' or 'objective' seeing and listening of the situation at hand! And it felt right… but it was proven wrong.
   Being wrong feels exactly the same as being right, because the feeling relates to the grasp/clinging you have of the view: it doesn't actually assess the veracity of the view itself!

   While there's a place for faith and confidence (so you don't "freeze" in the midst of uncertainty, in the midst of not-knowing), the Dharma nonetheless suggests to relinquish all  views.
   Not just "wrong views", that humans too easily associate with the "others' views" (or with a "past erroneous self"… of course, making the assumption that our self now knows better and now is 'right'),  but all  views.
   Just like equanimity doesn't mean that sights and sounds and other stimuli stop existing, relinquishing all views doesn't mean that views, opinions, assessments, discernments stop existing though.
   "Relinquishing all views" means to let go of the certainty, to reconnect with a willingness to put any view to the test of reality (instead of clinging to it as if one could establish its veracity by another way than testing it —and being willing and ready to adapt, should the test fail). Relinquishing all views is similar to going forth, to leaving home ( and, it's an invitation to keep looking, to keep enquiring, to keep engaging and learning. Views keep popping up, discernments keep being made, that's okay, the question is: how do you relate to them? Do you rush into "I'm right, others are wrong",  or do you use them when useful and drop them when inappropriate? Can you embody equanimity vis-à-vis your views?

   How do you practice mindfulness of thoughts, if you don't pay attention to your assessment (i.e. thought) of your thoughts? Taking a step back from a thought might allow to have another thought, about the former thought, but this in no way implies the assessment is right solely because it 'feels' right ;-) Such a feeling only means you're satisfied with the grasping, with the clinging; it only means you hope  you have found a satisfactory view, i.e. you hope you're so brilliant and wise that you found for a reliable phenomenon within saṃsāra! It's like believing in Father Christmas.
   Mindfulness is not applied solely to the initial thought but to the assessment too… It is critical not  to convince yourself that, just because you can take a step back, you're 'right' and 'unbiased' whenever you do so. And mindfulness allows to then be present to how the secondary thought operates, to realise how the assessment of truth is ignorantly confused with the mere measure of strength of grasping.

   There's a place for faith and confidence: the faith that putting views to the test of reality will  help you find an appropriate response called for by the situation at hand… the confidence that a willingness to adapt and creatively iterate will  help you live life to the full, will  help you avoid running into painful walls, will  help you embody wisdom (and cease the unsatisfactoriness whenever reality does not  comply with whatever 'truth' you held dear… without having to make up narratives to explain in what sense you were right even though it didn't work!).
   Some argument over Christmas might have felt like the right thing to say… Some new year resolutions might feel like the right decisions to commit to… There's a place for faith and confidence: the faith that love and compassion are more wholesome than anger or even indifference, the confidence that equanimity and using opportunities as they present themselves are more wholesome than stubborn prejudices.

   "It feels right", do you say?
   Okay! That's an information, among others! Now, why is that so? Is this feeling relevant or useful? What causes this feeling? How does it bias your judgement? How do you use such a feeling constructively (in particular knowing that feelings are impermanent)?
   Why, and how, do you appropriate this particular feeling as 'yours'? What is this thing you call a 'you', who might 'own' such a feeling, anyway? Is it some sort of deterministic robot acting on 'feeling' impulses, or a wise sentient being free from automatisms?
   Can you embody equanimity vis-à-vis your own views just like you'd do vis-à-vis any other views? Neither clinging nor pushing away, using them when appropriate, not otherwise?
   If the eightfold path lists "right view" and "right intention" separately, what sort of intention might be independent from views? [And if there isn't any, which "right view" might be safe enough to constitute a basis for "right intention"?]

#Buddhism   #Dharma  
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