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An Open Mind! What Is It?

An open mind!

What does that mean? It means to have an opinion but no attachment to it; it means to live by what you know to be truth for you while respectful toward another whose truth may be similar or somewhat different.

Attachment is the problem! Detachment is the key!

The key to what? How about happiness? Winning of a different sort?

The Buddha repeatedly taught an important spiritual insight. “Attachment,” said he, “is the root of all suffering, the cause of all human discontent.”

It is my opinion that he was right. Attachment to one’s opinion, one’s possession, one’s belief system, to one’s religious identity, to one's own body, or even one's own thoughts is a characteristic of the human experience, not only common to all, but perhaps the primary culprit in virtually all human suffering and human division.

It is the little ego in you and in me that creates the madness in a world where everyone and everything is viewed as “us” and “them.” It expresses itself most destructively in the assumption, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” “We’re right! You’re wrong!” Nations, people’s and groups, attached as the little ego in them is to their identity…their truth, will express divisive attitudes, as in, “We’re the chosen ones; you’re not!”

It is indeed the insanity within humanity.

To live as Jesus taught us, praying as he did for us, “that they may be ONE,” (John 17) is not socialism…is not sameness…is not the sacrifice of my opinion…my truth…so we can all be the same, sharing the same beliefs, opinions and so forth. This is the core error in virtually all religions but particularly in two of the largest world religions. These seek to proselytize or to convert the world.

“But, isn’t that what their leader taught?” you ask.

Not necessarily. The core error in religions like Christianity and Islam is the mistaken notion that their leaders taught their followers that they were to “go into the world and convert everyone to their way of thinking; their way of believing.” Which essentially means convincing everyone else that whatever they believe is wrong but that what we believe is right.


Jesus said, for example, “Go into the world and preach, or share, the good news” (Matt. 28) and the “good news” to which Jesus was referring is the “good news” that he himself preached.  ”Deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, setting at liberty those who are bound…” (Luke 4). In other words, what was “good news” for Jesus WAS NOT a “Sinner’s Prayer,” for example, everyone had to pray in order to appropriate Jesus’ sacrificial atonement and precisely so that their filthy sins could be covered “in the blood,” so to speak, thereby making it possible to avoid God’s wrath which would otherwise banish them to eternal torment in hell if they did not.

No, for Jesus, the good news was the re-ordering of human life itself- beginning within each person – DETACHMENT or, to use his words, “deliverance to captives.” We’re all captives, are we not, to opinions, to belief systems, to “our denomination,” to our religion, and on and on the madness goes. We’re blind, are we not, until we see this madness? We are bound, so to speak, imprisoned in our own little worlds, cut off from the rest of the world, until this good news, this new insight, awareness comes to us and frees us or, in Buddha’s words, enables us to detach and so be free of suffering.

Jesus and the Buddha taught many similar things, even though they used slightly differing words. Jesus said, for example, “Deny yourself.” But isn’t that just another way of saying, “Detach?”

The longer I live, the more aware I become that detachment, or the denial of self – the little voice in the head – the ego, this may just be the greatest human struggle or, when mastered, the grandest human achievement.

But then, that’s just my opinion. As such, it is distinguished by two things: 1) My opinions are ever-changing; and, 2) My opinions are not held by all. Maybe it is THIS spirit, however, that is the supreme expression of human enlightenment. Maybe this is what Jesus meant by “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom!”

What a strange and paradoxical statement! To be poor is to be rich; to detach is to own; to give is to gain; to release is to obtain; to lose is to win.

Tell me this is not a re-ordering of human life…human ambition…human community?

The Buddha said, “Detach.” Jesus said, “Deny.” The ends are the same – which is, of course, an “open mind” and the secret to happiness.