Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Letting Your Opinions Fly Like Birds

We humans tend to cherish our opinions. Sometimes, we'll do anything to either protect them or make them known in the world. It can get so bad that people will destroy relationships and even kill each other over their differences.

It doesn't have to be this way.

"If you wish to see the truth,
then hold no opinions for or against anything."

"Trust in Mind" (Xinxinming), Zen Master Seng Ts'an

Having no opinions at all about anything is the opposite of being strongly opinionated. And on the surface, it appears that these lines are directing us to have no opinions. Which really isn't a much better position.

However, that's not what the poet is advocating here.

Take a look at those first words - "If you wish to see the truth." How often do you truly wish to see the truth? And how often do you do anything in your power to turn away from it?

This line seems to point at the choice that's required of each of us in every moment to want to see the truth. We have to aim ourselves in the right direction. Or, more accurately, allow ourselves to be aimed in the right direction by life itself. If we're too busy being obstructionists, or propping up arguments about ourselves and others, there's no room for the truth to seep in.

In the second part of the line, the word "hold" stands out. Recently, I was in a conversation about politics, and felt myself holding tightly to my particular opinion. I noticed how that tightness manifested in my shoulders and lower back, and how the guy I was talking with seemed to be mirroring me - tightening around his own opinion. So, I decided to pull back, and let go of the point I was trying to make. We continued to talk, and I fairly quickly experienced an uncoiling of that tightness as breath calmed, and my need to be right diminished.

This letting go didn't mean I gave up what I thought and went along with his view. It meant that I stopped trying to control the outcome of the conversation, and allowed our differences to be present in the same space.

How can you treat all opinions like this? Let them be birds, floating across the mind's landscape: accessible, able to be conveyed, but also free to pass on through at any time. If you do so, it's more likely that whatever truth contained within will be able to come forth and shine.

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