Why do some things have more value than others? How can you decide what has more value than anything else? The truth is that everything is made up of neutrons, protons, and electrons. Why should some neutrons be worth more than others?
Why should I respect you less than I respect Buddha, who was just a man with some good ideas? In the eyes of Buddhism, all people have the same ability to achieve Nirvana. There are no “chosen people.” There are only people. You, me, Buddha. From this religious conceptualization, everyone has the same value. Everything has the same value.
Is a person’s life more valuable than a rock? If it weren’t for rock, where would we be? We would not exist, because there would be nothing to stand on. Why am I more valuable than the thing that gives us a home?
The Second Noble Truth says that desire is the cause of suffering. Desire isn’t an accurate translation, it means so much more (such as want, craving, thirst, expectation, dissatisfaction), but it will do. If I expect to be treated as more valuable than a rock, I suffer when it proves to be untrue.
One of the most difficult things in Buddhism for people to expect is that it is not species-centric. We are not chosen people, we are just people. We are not stewards of the earth, we are part of the earth. We are not the top of the food chain, we are members of the food web.
How can this be, you ask? How can it not be, I wonder? For me, the ordinary attitude that I am more important than, for example, my dog, is wrong because it is not the right mindfullness. My dog is my dog. I am me. Value is a social construct that isn’t material, but merely a mutable social relationship dependent on how the dog, my society, and I agree the relationship should be. In the streets of New Delhi, the cow is above the human being. It’s value is also a social construct.
Social construction is not objective reality. It’s a reality that is relative, and changes based on how a person values and respects others. For me, as a Buddhist, I know and understand what social reality is and I work within its bounds. I also understand its limitations and how it does not equal objective reality.
hard to explain .. since its what I believe .. not something I was made to believe.
everything has value .. we are all here for a reason .. humans .. all creatures .. whether it be a monkey .. a fish .. a human .. algae .. we are all here b/c we are capable of being here .. if we were not capable of being here .. then we wouldn’t be. We wouldn’t exist. Humans .. as for everything else .. is part of a chain .. we need every other creature just as much as they need us. example .. bats and spiders eat mosquitoes .. which likes to eat us. If we didn’t have bats and/or spiders .. then humans would have a huge problem with mosquitos ..
thus .. everything needs to be treated with respect.. we all have a role …
We all come from the same place .. we all have the same wants and needs .. We all want to love .. and be loved
In your big mind, everything is *just like this*. Not good, not bad — only just like this.
When red comes, red. When white comes, white. When a hungry person appears, give them a sandwich. When a thirsty person appears, give them water. Salt is salty. Sugar is sweet. Where’s the valuation in any of this?
This doesn’t mean blankness. When a hungry person appears, don’t give them a bowling ball! When you see clearly, each thing is unique. Thus, your relationship and function will differ in every situation.
Practice helps us clearly perceive correct situation, relationship, and function. When we do this, our ordinary mind becomes Buddha’s mind.