Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Three rights make a left, three yes’s make one know

My Japanese friend explained to me that when she was young, her family would, on a Sunday, visit a Christian church, a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine.  The visit to each was sincere in its way, but not obsessive or exclusive, clearly.

She understood that it was polite to accept the viewpoint of each philosophy, religion or practice, but that the Sunday visit was more recreational than dogmatic.  No-one became upset if one viewpoint disagreed with another.  No-one got angry, and no-one got killed.

By saying a polite yes to the viewpoints of the Christian, the Buddhist and the Shinto representatives, it was possible to see something from three sides.  If you want to paint a picture of a box, you’ll paint it from the perspective your easel sits at, in relation to the subject you are painting.  If you get up and move to a second and third location, the next two paintings will look different - but they are of the same subject.

The Christian, the Buddhist and the Shinto priest may have preferred she exclude the other two visits.  But by saying a polite “yes” to all three, she not only expanded her perspective, she also said a polite “no” to the blindness of a singular perspective.

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