Views Matter

BuddhaEvery one of us, you, me and all the others, holds a view. More correctly, we hold onto a whole web of views. Though unable to see them, so deep and instinctive are they that they inform how we act, think and live. Views are how we organize and interpret experience, how we ‘stand back’ and think about it. Views are both individual (this is me, I am this sort of person) and collective (this is our country, this is our tradition, this is what we stand for). These patterns express themselves in what we do individually – our-day-to-day actions – and manifest collectively as social structures, groupings and beliefs. What in Buddhism are known as ‘wrong’ or unwise views, are based on selective interpretations of experience and tend to serve our best interest over and above the interest of others (those who hold different views). These views lead straight to suffering.

The writers in this second edition of The London Buddhist are exploring views. Manjusiha calls into question the prevalent views of neoliberalism and points out their consequences: gross inequality, segregation, caste and class. What, he asks, is our response to the increasingly divided society in which we live? Do the views that we hold on to blind us to the social effects of greed?

Indeed, even the commonly held view that anything we can’t see is a fiction, and was created by humans for a strictly utilitarian purpose, is challenged by Ollie Brock in the book review.

Continuing with literature, Maitreyaraja takes a close look at Maitreyabandhu’s bookshelf. Together they explore how reading can broaden one’s views as well as bring much pleasure and meaning.

Echoing this, Vishvantara considers the sublimating power of music. If the spiritual life is one ultimately not attached to any view or ideology, can music be a way of communicating this?

The bottom line, of course, is that one needs to affect skilfully the course of one’s life in order to live with views that are increasingly helpful. Kusalasara shows how this can spring from a moment of beauty.

This radical way of living, as exemplified by the Buddha, is not a life passively lived within the views of society (consumerism, nationalism, liberalism, racism, sexism etc.) but by wise views that are actively beneficial for self and other, resulting in ways of living that serve the highest and greatest possible good. As we continue to publish our new magazine, I hope it is an aid to a greater awareness of this ideal.


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