In many discussions, you may find yourself (or others) getting so caught up in a position that the topic at hand is avoided with a distraction. An example might be, that one’s political party or hero has done something wrong. When confronted with the wrongness of the act, some people will say, “oh but wait something worse happened with your hero (or political party) 12 years ago…”
Lack of Confrontation
The reason a person avoids the present issue, and returns to something in the past to attack, relates to their deep seated understanding that they are wrong. Such a person is not yet capable of consciously agreeing in their wrongness, so they counter with distraction.
The real issue at hand is a lack of confrontation – they are incapable of confronting the present situation, as well as their own views. Instead of agreeing with any degree of culpability on the part of the situation/person, they return to a previous memory of something or someone else who did something similar.
At all times we must be vigilant and accept the present moment. If we take a side on an issue, and that issue is now turning out to be wrong, we must accept the appearance of it being wrong. From this confrontation with our held beliefs we can grow through the experience.
Being willing to confront a situation, also allows us to get closer to how the situation is empty. How our false sense of self is at play and that our real nature is also empty of existing in any particular way. Our attachment to something empty, and defining it as something specific will only create ignorance and suffering.
Is the person or issue you’re defending self-existent? How so? Where do they exist? Where is their identity? Is it their body? Is it their mind? Where is the mind? Can you point to it?
The unusual nature of “self,” tends to break down when we analyze that no self is ever really found. The brain is not the self, the body is not the self, and yet the self is not ever found. Mind is like a transparent vapor – unseen but there. It also isn’t something we can simply point to as “our identity.”
So how can we, having no self, hold a strong position (so strong as to run from the data at hand?) How can the person, hero, ideal be held so tightly when it too is empty of self-existence?
Retreating Continues the Problem
When a person mentally retreats from present time data, they are revealing that at a very deep level they agree with their opponent. There is no other reason to retreat to the past, or point to something else. This action tips the unconscious mechanism that they understand their error, but they are still unable to accept it.
For example, imagine two people discussing politics:
Person 1: “Did you see what the President said today? It’s horrible…”
Person 2: “Oh that’s nothing, did you hear what the past President once said?”
Evading one wrong by going into the past is a retreat. This type of person is good at heart, and deep down they know what was said was wrong. But they can’t face it because they are attached to the individual. Perhaps they are an ardent follower of the current President of a nation. In such a case, to consciously acknowledge this person (President in this example) as wrong, would be a tarnishing of an image they’ve created of a hero or a perfect candidate.
Truthfully there is no self to tarnish. But we have created a fake existence of the individual. We believe they are true, powerful, real, intelligent, kind, etc. When in fact all these qualities might be missing.
People who think like this (regardless of their religion or spiritual path) will not grow beyond this point of believed existence. They are self-identifying as something limited (political party, member of a religion, etc.) and seeing the object they attach to as also self-existing in some specific way (as something “right,” and hence it becomes something that can’t be “wrong.”)
To See or Not to See
While all things are empty of existing in any specific way, when we see something to appear we must accept it as it appears. It may not be as we see it, but we must acknowledge how we see it and relate to it as such.
Perhaps the President of a nation (from the previous example) appears to be a cruel and heartless person to some. They may not be this way (from a larger world view), but this evidence seen must be related to, as it appears to us. If we honestly say, “yes I see that wrong as well,” then we must decide our role in life. Are we greater than some small scope, or are we willing to look beyond our attachments to people and things?
Evading an issue saying, “oh it’s empty… therefore I can’t say it’s good or bad,” is as much a disservice as to point at other situations or people who failed. It is avoidance. It is an unwillingness to change a position – and this is very limiting.
Solidifying the Small Scale Self
Our unwillingness to change will ultimately cap our spiritual experience. We will be stuck at a point of agreement to which we say we are. By solidifying to a belief that “our candidate” or “our hero,” or “our spiritual leader,” can do no wrong, we limit our experience and our ability to grow.
This is the real danger of avoidance. We must be willing to call out a situation as it appears to be. If we hide behind our nationalism, or religious zeal to demand that our hero is empty of existing negatively (that such negativity is just the projections of negative people…) it sounds far too suspicious.
It is true – he/she/they are empty. So are you. So am I. But are you saying that because you experienced their emptiness, or are you saying that to avoid confronting the appearance of reality in this present moment?
Deataching to the World
When you see something as or someone in agreement with you, it is natural to want to attach. As you build a sense of reality with that person, you will find they are holding your own values. When such a person appears to deviate from our ideals, it is often difficult to recognize it as what it appears to be.
This is because we are attached to an outcome.
Don’t attach. Don’t find yourself attached to the person, subject, self, other. It’s hard to do, but it is also what needs to be done.
Yes, the situation is empty. But also yes, the situation may appear to have negativity (or positivity.) Relate to the appearance of a situation from your ethical standard. Call out the appearance of negativity, as well as the appearance of positivity. That is what it is to remain in your center.
From this center, the illusionary world can be related to without much problem.