duality and nondiscrimination

In Zen there’s much to say about not discriminating between good and bad. But I don’t think that should be taken literally. If it were taken literally, it would be giving power to make decisons to those who don’t have our best interests at heart.

David Orr, the well-known environmentalist, says you can tell a lot about the environmental health and potential for sustainability in a place by its aesthetics. Imagine a vacation spot. Does it have a Target, a Wal-Mart, endless traffic? Probably not. Perhaps it’s near a lake, or it’s on the ocean. Near a mountain. Here in the midwest, perhaps there is a trail that goes through woods and a savanna, bordering a prairie. It could be a small city with bicycle trails and coffee shops. Or a large city with museums and concert halls. These are the kind of things that last. These are the kind of things I think, with apologies to Zen, would be considered “good” in comparison to those that might not be so good.

I think the difference between the comparison of good places and not-so-good places and what Zen calls “duality” is that when deciding between, say sustainable things and non-sustainable things, that the decision has already been made. We already know the truth. We know what is right. That’s why there’s no duality. The not-so-good place puts itself in a situation where it seems to be an alternative or a choice,  but it isn’t really. The lesser choice falls away, and no decision needs to be made. Thinking about these things, “deciding,” gives credence to that which isn’t deserving of attention.

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