So I’ve begun my journey into Buddhism. I am completely a novice, and don’t claim any “Zen Pedigree” or master status. I’m exploring the Dhammapadha, and kinds of other Buddhist texts to start with. I’m inundating myself with knowledge, and I’ll come to my own conclusions at the end. I thought I’d share this exploration with you, and start with the first step on the Noble Eightfold Path, Right View. (for those of you who are unfamiliar with Buddhism or the Eightfold Path, try the following link http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html)
So what is meant by “right view”? Can I apply to to all aspects in my life, including home brewing? If so, it will pass my first test. Right view can be translated as right right perspective, right vision or right understanding. It is a way to view the Universe. In Buddhism, attachment is talked about as being a source of suffering. Right view teaches us how to see the world without attachment. Tricky, hu?
So when I opened up my latest batch (an American Brown Ale) and shared with some friends, they seemed to really enjoy it. However, I thought it could use a few more weeks in the bottle to “finish”. Maybe they were just being polite, though I think they really did enjoy it. So, if we were all tasting the same beer, why so many different opinions? Shouldn’t we all have either enjoyed it, or hated it?
Well, come to find out, we were all attaching “good” or “bad” or “tasty” to the beer. Right view says we were all drinking the same ale, and it was neither good or bad in itself. You see, there is nothing absolutely good or universally bad about it. It was all our subjective opinions, our attachments that got in the way of seeing the beer for what it really was. Just beer.
With right view we can see situations for what they really are. Cut through all the bullshit. You can see that pain is just a sensation. You know that old saying “It is what it is”? Well, that is right view. Because when a tornado rips through small town USA, and a lot of buildings get destroyed, and people get hurt, all that happened was the action. Now, you can say “that was horrible, all that destruction was pointless”. Or, an observer from far could say “what a beautiful storm”. In the end, you’ll just have to accept that the storm happened, and that’s all.
I heard something once that demonstrates this fully. I heard it on a podcast from Kusala Bhikshu (www.urbandharma.org) once in which he was explaining the difference between pain and suffering. Suffering, he said, is when you don’t want the pain. If you can understand that suffering is optional, you can understand how to view those things that cause your suffering.
Right view is also about making sure you are viewing things how they are. Some actions can be “wrong” in the sense that they aren’t “right action”. You see, the Eightfold Path doesn’t work like your uncle’s 12 step program. All eight “steps” need to work in unison. So you use right view to attain right livelihood, which leads to right mindfulness, but only if you’re using right intention. Got it? 🙂
So, while I’d like to go into more detail about right view, I feel like I need to cover the rest of the eightfold path. So we’ll leave it at that for the moment. These posts will be fairly short, but that does not mean that whole books couldn’t be or haven’t been written about the eightfold path.
On a side note, I entered one of my ales into the Washington State Fair. I’m looking forward to getting some feedback on my beer from a pro judge. It will be nice to see how it does in competition. The prize is only like 10 bucks or something, so I’m not concerned with that. I’m just interested to see how it compares to others beers, and maybe get some tips from some of the other brewers.