I would say that any of us can easily see another person as stupid because they lack some basic awareness. For example, I have become keenly aware of the health and environmental dangers of meat and dairy. But a year ago, I did not know 1/1000th of what I know today. So was I stupid back then? Am I smart or wise now?
I am beginning to see that I was neither stupid then, or wise now.
We each have our own experiences and triggers that cause us to look more deeply. And the Buddhist practice is certainly what may ignite ones interest into examining the self and the nature of this existence.
But just as that practice consistently leads me to discovering more about the nature of this reality, it also opens my eyes to see that there is so much more that I am unaware of. Sometimes causing me to feel as though I take one step forward and two steps back.
A perfect example of this, is a recent video I watched about the struggles in Burma. Prior to watching this documentary, I could hardly tell you what part of the World Burma was located in.
But now I have awareness and knowledge that these people have been suffering terribly under a military regime that has a chokehold on its people. With the government going so far as to destroy Buddhist Temples, murder Buddhist Monks, and imprison most other Monks for life. And this atrocity has been happening for over twenty years now, yet I had no awareness. So does this mean I was stupid? No, I was ignorant (avijja). I lacked awareness, and have been so caught up in the little World I create in my mind that I had no idea that this was happening. And aren’t these human beings in Burma just as important as people in any of these United States? Can I justify being ignorant and disconnected because so many miles lay between us?
Whether it is Burma, Tibet, Libya, Japan, North Korea, or the Horn of Africa, these are my Brothers and Sisters.
As I continue to practice, I see that there is a natural ripening of compassion and awareness that one develops. Which does not mean that I see all things, only that I see more than I did yesterday.
Loving kindness may begin with the self, but is truly about all other living beings. A metamorphosis of sorts begins to reveal the vast space that surrounds us. We are not alone, and this life is not about the self.
Yes, the Lotus flower would not grow were it not for its roots in the mud. But it is that opening of itself to the sunlight that exposes all of the beauty.
So while you or I may be still stuck in the mud, or working our way through the murky waters, just know that we are not stupid. We are on a journey towards seeing more clearly, lovingly, compassionately, and selflessly.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.