September- Notes from Norman

Zen Mind Training:  59 Slogans for Generating Altruism

By Norman Fischer

Working manuscript

Don’t be One Sided.  This one is very important in human relations, and it runs exactly counter to the usual way we approach things.  Usually we are exactly one sided: there’s our side and the other person’s side, and it’s our side that is important, correct, or right, so much so that we may not even notice that there is another side.  But there’s always another side.  This may be so, but that also may be so.  This may be so today, but tomorrow it may not be so.  If there’s a side there’s always another side.

Don’t be One Sided has another sense too – don’t favor people you like over people you don’t like.  Try not to be one sided in that way.  This seems impossible and inadvisable.  Are we really supposed to regard our close friends, our spouse and our children the same way we regard an acquaintance or an enemy?   Realistically, no.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to notice how much in almost all our encounters we are subtly prejudiced by our one-sidedness, constantly upholding ourselves and those we like and running down (in however small a way) those we don’t like.  These prejudices, which we take for granted and affirm, actually cause us more trouble than we realize.  They create a subtle climate of preference, for and against, that gives rise to  more of our interpersonal rough spots than we realize.  So even though we may not be able to feel an equal feeling toward all, this slogan puts us on notice that we better take our one sidedness into account and do what we can to de-emphasize it.