“In the sky, there is no distinction between east and west, people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true” (Buddha).
When I look up in the sky from my front yard, I see no indications of direction. Taking a few steps down my driveway, I see a somewhat rusty reminder of North, South, East, and West. The sky above me wears no labels, but the ground below has plenty to go around – and so do our minds.
Think about foods: many of us label some foods good and other foods bad. Yet I would argue that the real problem is not the food itself, but the way we consume it. Chocolate is not my inherent enemy, but mindless consumption of handfuls of chocolate chips gets in the way of healthy eating. Think about dogs: some people distinguish between good and bad breeds. Yet I would argue that the way a dog is raised is what matters most. Many people are prejudiced against Pit Bulls, but our cousin has raised a very loving, gentle, and affectionate one. Think about people: how many distinctions or prejudices have harmed humans? From the religious leaders of Jesus’s day to modern hate groups, dogmatic beliefs distinguish between who is in and who is out, who is accepted and who is not. Yet Jesus did not accept the dogma or distinctions of the Pharisees; he claimed that all laws of importance were summed up in two things: (1) love God first, and (2) love one’s neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:34-40).
I think it’s wise to become mindful of the labels we so easily assign. We may find that they are inaccurate. Sometimes dropping inaccurate labels opens up pleasant possibilities: we may discover a healthy way to consume chocolate, a safe way to raise a loving pet, or a new way to make a friend. When we look up in the sky, may we remember to ask: what inaccurate distinctions have I created in my mind?