Buddha-Dharma: Choice or Oneness

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.

~Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

When there is choice, there is confusion.

~Zen Master Gosung Shin

To me, these are very interesting, and even controversial statements.

What's interesting to me, is the juxtaposition of choice and vidya. I've never read Buddha of Pali Suttas speaking anything to this point. Could this be something unique to Zen understanding, perhaps native to China with its notion of Tao?

I deem this controversial because it contradicts the common sense idea that having more choices is better than having few. Not just common sense, a modern scientist proposed a definition of intelligence as an ability to maximize future entropy. See http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22261742 and http://physics.aps.org/articles/v6/46

In contrast to this line of thinking, the two statements by Zen teachers suggest that a fool has many choices while an expert has few. If we take this to its logical conclusion, we would have to assume that Buddha has no choices at all! Which makes total sense in context of non-dualistic Oneness (Tao). However, as we all know, Buddha did not teach Oneness as the ultimate goal. He criticized sharply the fatalistic teachings of his day. Instead, he emphasized making the right choice and stressed "discernment". Moreover, in his view (as I understand it) a philosophical theory was a mean to an end, a tool, not the metaphysical reality. Buddha of Pali Canon was a remarkably practical person.

So, while the both pro-choice and pro-oneness are valid perspectives on the same ineffable reality, we have to be super-careful when discussing these with students of Buddhism. We don't want to accidentally misrepresent Dharma as a doctrine of determinism (as Taoism undoubtedly is).

Instead of the above two statements, I would say that wisdom helps discard the suboptimal choices while at the same time helping discover new, more optimal, choices. While the expert knows what not to do, he can surely think out of the box. Buddha's mind is unbound, therefore Buddha's choices are limitless.

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