On Human Beings and the Capacity for Change

It seems to me that no matter how sage the advice, no matter how expertly or gently it is delivered, human beings will not change until they are ready to do so.

Is this a stubborness born of ignorance, or sheer bloody-mindedness? I don’t think so. There is a disconnect between the head and the heart it seems, and the 18 inch journey of connection can sometimes take 18 days, 18 weeks, 18 months, 18 years, or even a lifetime. It isn’t rational but then I’ve come to the conclusion that humans aren’t rational – no matter how much we like to convince ourselves that we are.

Everyone’s capacity for change, like the people themselves, would appear to be infinitely different.

On Labelling

Why do we insist on reducing everyone/everything/ourselves to an -ist or an -ism?

Labelling, it seems to me, is another consequence of tribalism. If we can name it/them, we can belong to it/categorise them.

Belonging – it is yin and it is yang. Dark and light. It can serve you, it can control you.

Why are you an -ist? Why are you an -ism? Does it define you? Does it control you? How does it affect your relationship with others?

What about my own – Taoism and Buddhism?

“If you meet the Buddha on the path, kill him at once”.

Why are you an -ist? Why are you an -ism?

On Principles

Some fantastic words by Alan Watts:

It was a basic Confucian principle that ‘it is man who makes truth great, not truth which makes man great’ . For this reason, ‘humanness’ or ‘human-heartedness’ (jen) was always felt to be superior to ‘righteousness’ (i), since man himself is greater than any idea which he may invent. There are times when men’s passions are much more trustworthy than their principles. Since opposed principles, or ideologies, are irreconcilable, wars fought over principle will be wars of mutual annihilation. But wars fought for simple greed will be far less destructive, because the aggressor will be careful not to destroy what he is fighting to capture. Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshippers of an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions make them the enemies of life.

- Alan Watts, The Way of Zen.