I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken
I’ve been thinking a lot about bias – this thing we are supposed to overcome, the root of so much suffering and destruction in our country and world. And I’ve been thinking about it in terms of the classical Yogacara teachings of Vasubandhu and the great Chinese monk Xuanzang, whose “Treatise on the Establishment of Mind Only” (Chengweishilun) is the basis of the Japanese Hosso Sect. I think that these teachings have something really interesting and important to offer to the conversation about bias, and it’s something that resonates across Buddhist schools and teaching lineages. I’d say it gets at the essence of Zen, too.
In a nutshell: No one is unbiased. No one sees clearly.
Or, at least, pretty much only a Buddha is unbiased. Only a Buddha sees clearly.
And by “Buddha” I don’t mean the Zenny “you and all beings are Buddha” kind of Buddha, much less the ultra-Zenny “rocks and tiles are Buddha” kind of Buddha. I mean the Ten Stages Buddha, the Three Great Kalpas to attain Buddha, the Mahayana Buddha, the Buddha that if you are reading this you most certainly, I guarantee, are not.
When I purify myself of every single hindrance, every single slight tangle of emotion or worldview – then, just maybe then, I’ll see things clearly. In the meantime, forget it. Really forget it. I am NOT seeing clearly. Not even close. Never.
No! Not even that one time… when the world suddenly crystalized crisp and perfect and clear as a still lake. Even that time, and the ones like it, I was not seeing clearly.
And I most certainly am not seeing clearly right now.
It’d be good to admit this. It’d be good, if nothing else, to see just this one point clearly.