Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Your Opinion

From Charlotte Beck’s Nothing Special:

STUDENT: Often I can see other people’s patterns much more quickly than my own. When I care about them, I’m tempted to set them straight. I feel like I’m seeing a friend drowning and not throwing a lifesaver. When I do intervene, however, it often feels like I’m butting into their lives when it is not my business at all.

JOKO: That’s an important point. What does it mean to be a formless field of benefaction? We all see people doing things that obviously harm them. What should we do?

STUDENT: Isn’t it enough to be aware and be present to them?

JOKO: Yes, that is generally the best response. Occasionally people will ask us for help. If they are sincere in asking, it’s fine to respond. But we can be too quick to jump in and give advice. Many of us are fixers. An old Zen rule of thumb is not to answer until one has been asked three times. If people really want your opinion, they’ll insist on having it. But we are quick to give our opinion when nobody wants it. I know; I’ve done it.

The observer has no emotions. It’s like a mirror. Everything just passes in front of it. The mirror makes no judgment. Whenever we judge, we’ve added another thought that needs to be labeled. The observer is not critical. Judging is not something the observer does. The observer simply watches or reflects, like a mirror. If garbage passes in front of it, it reflects garbage. If roses pass in front of it, it reflects roses.

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