No, this is not going to be any sort of Clint Eastwood parody, as original of a joke as that might have been. Rather, today I would like to discuss something quite a bit deeper than old western films. While I was in Korea, I read a 2,500 year old book called The Tao Te Ching written by Lao Tzu and translated into English by Stephen Mitchell. One of the very first sections in the book discusses the relationship between opposites:
When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad. Being and non-being create each other.Difficult and easy support each other. Long and short define each other. High and low depend on each other. Before and after follow each other.
Essentially, I believe he is saying that as soon as you make a judgement about something, you are creating the possibility for there to be an opposite. For instance, imagine there were no such thing as darkness. We would never have night, there would always be brightness everywhere at all times. Do you think we would even have a word for light? On the contrary, why don’t we have a word for “no air.” If there were random pockets of “no air” around the world where people would suffocate if they walked into them, then we would definitely have a word for it. However, since our entire planet is covered with air, we don’t need that word.
This of course relates back to the JAR concept I wrote about in the Conversations with God post a couple months ago, which states that all pain is in some way rooted in Judgement, Attachment, or Resistance. Lao Tzu was beautifully illustrating this point, over 2,500 years ago, by showing how every concept has an opposite, and therefore the creation of that concept creates its opposite. People often ask why there are so many bad people in the world. I even wrote recently about why bad things happen to good people, and yet it has always been so much simpler than that. If we recognize that there is no such thing as good or bad, then questions like “Why is this happening to me?” and “Why does he get to have a nicer car than me?” seem superfluous – in fact, utterly useless.
THE TAKEAWAY: So how does this apply to our everyday lives? Well, if you remember the JAR Concept, all you really need to do is actively label the thoughts you are having as judgements, attachments, or resistances. Then drop it. There’s no need to spend energy breaking it down because that is resistance to the fact that it has already happened. If we can catch ourselves labeling someone else’s pants as too baggy or a car driving by as goofy, we can start to make progress toward removing judgements from our daily lives. Once we develop a habit of non judgment, there won’t be any good, bad, or ugly for us to deal with. All that’s left to enjoy is the joy of being alive.