If someone looks at the world through a tinted lens, he or she will believe the world is dark, even if other people tell him or her otherwise. Similarly, if a person peers at the sky from within a well, he or she will think the sky is small and refuse to believe how vast it is. These two examples illustrate how people can be attached to their own viewpoints and refuse to see the world in its entirety.
People who live in the mountains or remote villages cannot imagine the towering skyscrapers in cities, the floors are covered with carpet, and the clean water flowing from faucets. They have never seen high-rises before. Attached to their old views, they refuse to accept this reality.
When people who are attached to their views suffer a setback, they often give up and insist that the situation is impossible. With this attitude, it is impossible for them to succeed. After suffering a single failure, these people do not look for the cause. They only think of the impossibility of succeeding. It will be difficult for them to recover.
Harry Truman suffered many personal setbacks before he became the President of the United States. Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, failed ten times in his efforts to overthrow the Qing Dynasty before triumphing. Many scientists and inventors persevered through innumerable failures in their research and experiments before realizing the inventions of their dreams.
People who are attached to their views and set ways in their ways must constantly strive to improve themselves. They must correct their mistakes and straighten their ways. Only constant progress and change will bring new discoveries. When a dress looks too short, lengthening it. If a table seems too long, shorten it.
A few generations ago, most Japanese people were short and small in stature. After years of improving their diet, exercise, and other aspects of life, the Japanese of today have become taller. Fruits and vegetables may be small and few, but after improvements to their species, they now grow bigger, better, and more frequently. Only continual improvement can bring constant growth.
The essence of Buddhism lies in its acceptance of the constant changes in the world. If we can view change as a natural and desirable part of life, we will do better in this world. As long as we follow the Truth and are not attached to our views, we will gain wisdom and make constant progress. Prehistoric people ate raw food. If they were attached to their ways, we would still be doing that today. Only through constant progress could civilization have advanced to what it is today.
Once, a blind man was crossing over a dry brook and accidentally fell off the bridge. Fortunately, he was able to hang onto the side of the bridge. As he cried for help, a passerby advised him not to be afraid and to just let go of the bridge, for the earth was right under his feet. The blind man refused to believe and and continued crying for help until he lost his strength and fell to the ground. Only then did he realize that the person had been telling the truth. Due to his blindness, he put himself through a lot of unnecessary fear and suffering.
Being attached to our views and habits is like the blind man crossing the bridge. We will suffer loss and pain before we finally wisen up. Do we really need to learn things the hard way?