Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Opinions

At first glance we might expect a discussion of opinions to belong to Part 4: Mind, rather than here in Part 3: Heart. True it is that opinions reside primarily in our thoughts, but our attachment to our opinions lies primarily in our feelings. Our spiritual work with regard to opinions involves seeing and letting go of our attachments to them. Does this mean giving up our opinions? No. A person devoid of opinions would be bland, hardly alive, and lacking energy. We naturally form opinions in response to the riches of our life experience. Our opinions guide us in the waters of life. We need our views. On our path, having opinions is not an obstacle. Being opinionated is.

Being opinionated means identifying with our views. “Here’s what I think, and if you disagree, then you are plainly wrong …” We believe so fervently in our opinions that we become them. “I am a liberal.” “I’m a conservative.” Our ego, or false-self, forms around our opinions. One telltale sign: we become angry or frustrated when someone disagrees with us. The degree of our anger or frustration reveals the degree of our attachment and identification.

So our problem boils down to this: to have opinions, even to take a stand and defend our position in a discussion or debate, but without allowing our opinions to own us. This middle path requires a perceptive and intelligent approach: having our opinions without them having us. The key is the anger or frustration that signals our attachment to a challenged opinion. We work to see this signal, in a clear, open, and self-accepting manner, without reacting against the anger and frustration, without putting ourselves down for being opinionated. The simple act of becoming conscious of our attachments to opinions gradually liberates us from their grip, leaving us freer to enjoy and elaborate our opinions, relishing debates, without the burden of self-centeredness. As the Third Patriarch of Zen put it: “Do not seek the Truth, only cease to cherish opinions.”

 

        

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