"It's amazing how much 'mature wisdom' resembles being too tired." --Robert Heinlein

The Church of Reality




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Insights from Lost & Found

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Putting the label where the motivation arises

In some neighborhoods of the incalculably diverse universe of Buddhist thought, it is said that trying to make the world a better place is a form of aggression. Even that trying to help somebody else is a form of aggression. Because trying to fix somebody else's (or a planet's) problems assumes that there is a problem, and assumes that everything will be better after you supposedly fix the problem. Buddhists would say that these activities are really more about puffing up your own ego than helping others.

Whether a circumstance is a problem is entirely dependent on a judgment taken from a particular point of view. People with other points of view may not share your judgments. Your own view, taken 10 years in the future, may not share your current judgments. Unforeseen factors will complicate the tally of pros and cons in ways that nobody can predict. Reality's web of cause and effect is far more complex than a controlled scientific experiment can elucidate.

So, does a Buddhist person with charitable impulses turn entirely away from them because there is no way to judge properly how to help?

Perhaps the solution to this dilemma is to switch from helping to giving. Instead of vaulting one's ego through a set of holier-than-thou judgments, simply share your excess with others. Acquire less. Use less. Give more. Not to make the world a better place, but because you have more than you need. Not to help others, but because you have effort to spare.

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