Furthermore, we must be open to, and respectful of, different ideas and views. As the Dalai Lama puts it, “Our basic mind should be very neutral.” This comes from the Nalanda Buddhist tradition, in which, he says, monks are trained always to ask why and to never simply say yes. Not even to a master—not even to His Holiness.
All this might sound not just transgressive, but paradoxical: We are happy when we live in our natural state, which is in harmony with each other; this is due to the fact that our individual nature is an illusion; we should teach this for the sake of truth and greater happiness; but we should also question this continually, in a spirit of openness and mutual respect.
You might argue that this is logically inconsistent. It was hard for me to grasp, too. But it is based on thousands of years of thought, and, it seemed to me, worthy of a few years of mine. Over time, it has changed my worldview radically.
If you are inclined to dismiss these ideas as hopelessly naive, ask yourself whether it could be because you are beholden to dogmas that are so ingrained in your daily life that you hardly recognize them anymore—dogmas that, on careful reflection, might not seem all that helpful. If you are unhappy with America’s culture of political contempt; if the present public-health crisis has forced you to reexamine your attachments; if you are less than bullish on the world we are building for our children and grandchildren; then perhaps you might entertain a new way of thinking.