Should First Impressions Last?

Knowing beings tend to cling to first impressions,
Bodhisattvas strive to create good impressions,
so as to better benefit them with the Dharma.

— Stonepeace | Get Books

If you visit a restaurant for the very first time, and the food happens to be not great, it is unlikely that you will visit it a second time, expecially when there are other choices at hand. However, sometimes, due to lack of alternatives in the area, you might give it another shot. You might find yourself bracing for another round of bad cooking, getting something equivalent in standard to the first round… But lo and behold – sometimes, you get a delicious serving, much to your pleasant surprise, beyond your wildest imagination! What would be the lesson from such an experience? You would have done both yourself and the restaurant a disservice if you gave up on it totally. It would have been worse if you shared your review of just one food-tasting session with everyone you met. May we not forget that there are people behind each dish and people do change!

In a similar manner, we should think twice before casting our judgements of people we come across in stone. Just as we do not wish others who have bad first impressions of us to hang on them unfairly, why should we mercilessly cling on to our negative initial and thus one-dimensional impressions of others? We should give room for doubt that others might not be whom they seem at first, but not without reasonable discerning wisdom of course. There is neither need to hope for the best nor to expect the worst, but to simply experience second interactions with open hearts and minds. Let us not do others and ourselves injustice by condemining anyone without ‘second hearings’. If we are to readily do so, how could we practise the Bodhisattva path of creating and increasing positive karmic affinities with all beings, for benefiting them with the Dharma?

An expression says ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’. While unfortunate that this tends to be valid for many, it is part of Dharma practice to counter this. First impressions tend to last due to habitual attachment to the familiar, even if the familarity of a near total stranger is close to nothing! Once we are mindful of this, we should let go of insisting on our unsubstantiated perceptions, at the most only using them as rough references. First impressions should never be our last, or we would never seek to realise the deeper and fuller truth. Although there is some truth to that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’, true familiarity breeds understanding. Not that there should ever be contempt, if it is there, we should wonder if we are really familiar enough with the ‘contemptuous’ others to justify contempt! Nursing contempt, how can we ever be spiritual friends with them?

Knowing beings tend to cling to lasting impressions,
Bodhisattvas strive to remove bad impressions,
so as to better benefit them with the Dharma.

— Stonepeace | Get Books


  • First impressions does determine if one wants to form further association.
    Whether an impression is good or bad is sometimes subjected to individuals’ preference. Some people like the quiet type, others like the rowdy type etc.

  • It is exactly because first impressions tend to have lasting effects that this article makes sense – in reminding us not to be so easily influenced by them. Even simply following our preferences blindly, without an open mind is not fair in seeing the real picture.

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