Forget Your Opinions

“Do not seek the truth, only cease to cherish your opinions.”
– Seng-ts’an

If you are a person, it’s inevitable that you have experienced your fare share of argument. You believe one “truth”, another person believes another “truth”, and you clash. The argument can end in concession, or it can spiral into nonsense. Regardless, the ultimate takeaway is this: no one is right.

People allow their opinions to cause endless misery. Some people curate their lives trying to be cool, and then fight with people about what constitutes “cool”, and end up hating anyone who doesn’t match up to their vision. Then they change and end up hating themselves. Other people develop vastly complex political philosophies and defend them despite rarely ever having any empirical evidence or humility about their convictions. People have proven time and time again that they will fight wholeheartedly, until death, over precepts that exist only in the ether.

Most thoughts have no basis in reality. Doubt is the root of all wisdom. Doubt your beliefs, and then doubt your doubts.  What we describe as “evil” is mostly caused by tenacity. Violent things happen when people are afraid to let go of their opinions.

The biggest problems occur when someone decides to take an all-or-nothing approach. “I’m right, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing you can do to convince me otherwise.” This stubbornness and steadfastness is a definitively human trait, one that defines our tendency towards arrogance. It’s rooted in the idea that happiness and satisfaction in life come from belief, or that anything is constant.

At the end of the day, all belief ends up as just another attachment, and all attachments are (to varying degrees) hinderances on happiness. There’s no easy conceptual way to navigate the world. Once you drop concepts, everything becomes clearer. Your true experience cannot be conveyed through words or concepts.

Even if you have deep moral convictions about what is Good and what is Bad, and you devote your life to helping people, you are prone to these falsehoods. If you believe yourself to be fighting an evil, you rely on that evil. You also become the evil to the evil you are fighting. American soldiers are evil to Jihadists, and vice-versa. Cops are evil to criminals, and vice-versa. The poor talk meanly of the rich, the rich talk meanly of the poor. These poles are not one-sided but are mutually-reliant. To define a good leads to the sprouting-up of a correspondent bad.

When you hold an opinion dearly, you’re pretending that truth is a tangible thing. You are lying to yourself, telling yourself that your thoughts are real. Thoughts are just abstractions, and truth exists only in experience and in action. Cease to cherish your opinions.