Published Saturday, 24 July 2021
Just as a fletcher shapes an arrow,
so the wise develop the mind,
so excitable, uncertain
and difficult to control.
Dhammapada v. 33
If we wish to develop our minds, sooner or later we need to recognize that we are responsible for the views that we have on life – the views that we hold and how we hold them. It is our views and whether or not we are attached to them that determine our actions. Within us there is a potential to change our views and to change our relationship to them. Perhaps at an early stage of life we assimilated the view that we deserve all the safety and convenience of living in an affluent society, unaware of the many sacrifices others have made so we can enjoy these conditions. Then, if circumstances change and we no longer have all the freedoms that we had grown used to, that unacknowledged view causes us to feel deprived and we become indignant. Without careful, skilful investigation into the views we hold, our life is shaped mainly by external influences. In his teachings the Buddha highlighted the possibility for training our attention so we are not mere victims of external influences. He wanted us to truly take control of our lives by letting go of attachment to views. If we are not attached to views we are in a position to be able to assess whether or not they serve to increase well-being.