Food for thought: On belts, nutrition, Buddhism, and debate

In Peru “no tener correa” (have no belt) reflects the inability of people to be cool with being wrong. I have no idea how to express that in English and I have no clue how the saying came about* but I know for sure that “yo no tengo correa” (I don’t have [a] belt). That’s why I don’t like competition (because I hate losing) and I avoid conflict.

It is a mystery that I’ve felt drawn to two areas that require a very sturdy belt, i.e. nutrition and Diamond Way Buddhism. Both areas are highly controversial and, as it happens with Buddhist philosophy, I’m starting to suspect you have to be pretty good at debate if you want to stand out from an academic/Western-idea-of-knowledge point of view. One of the masters in the school of Buddhism I follow, Naropa, was famous because he could win any debate, then take his opponent’s side and win the debate again. I think this not only shows that some people are extremely gifted when it comes to defending a point of view (think politicians and leaders in any field) but also that pretty much any argument can be defended if you have the ability to do so. This is why you can find scientific papers to back up a lot of contradicting claims. Biases not only exist, but clearly dominate some “truths” in human knowledge.

This week I’ve had a few opportunities to test my “lack of belt”. I’ve questioned once again my future in this new career path I’ve chosen to get away from the work I feel no passion about. I’m the kind of person who finishes what they have started. When I did my first uni degree I hated my dad from forcing me to do so but now I appreciate this kind of behaviour can have advantages. I will persevere in this new career path until I’m forced off it. I have the suspicion that meditation will help with training my ego to let go of attachment to stuff, including the need to be right. Let’s see if it pays in the end.

* Update courtesy of my friend Manuel Borja (aka “the master”): the phrase refers to the belts used by Augustine monks who, unlike others, didn’t wear ropes to hold their robes.

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