Opinions Are Like Stinky Things, We All Have Them. (SO WHAT!?)

Been a long time since I’ve written anything to you here. Whew, a lot has been happening. You’re a vivacious toddler now, courageous and eager to explore What a blast watching you learn and grow. Nothing is more exciting than seeing you move around and experience your surroundings with such enthusiasm. You’ve become quite affectionate lately and are quick to share hugs and kisses with Mama and Dada. Thanks for the love!

In all your growth, I can see your ego taking shape too.  More often than not you seem entirely sure of what you want these days, but not quite able to ask for it. Words fail you. Pointing gets the job done sometimes, but other times your mother and I can’t quite figure it out. You lose your cool and throw a fit. Sorry for all that, I’m trying to understand, but you sure do have a short temper. Chill out already!

Anyway, as your ego develops and you encounter more in the world, opinions will come about too. Likes and dislikes regarding every avenue of this wild and crazy life will form in your mind. Like many, I imagine you will struggle with the belief that your preferences are somehow more important or more highly refined than others’. Of course it’ll be a long time before you can understand, but it’s really a bunch of hogwash!

RUBBISH! KNOCK IT OFF!

Really, I’m being serious. Let me try to explain. With over seven billion people in the world, most who think their ideas and desires are somehow better than those of others, our preferences themselves can become a great source of conflict and suffering. All of us have opinions, most rather meaningless, such as what genre of music, flavor of lollipop, or style of dress we prefer. Yes, none of that matters much, but it goes further. People hold tightly to seemingly meaningless opinions and vastly important ones too, including the presumed validity of their political views, religious beliefs, and even presupposed ideas of others’ worth. It all gets messy quickly, especially when we raise our ideals above those of another. We much too easily attempt to set ourselves apart from others in terms of race, nationality, political ideology, social group, and on and on. Not to say ideas or even opinions themselves are entirely worthless, but the problem arises when we attach too rigidly and close ourselves off to contrary evidence.

You see, Elena, there’s always more information that we’re probably lacking. Our perspectives are limited and we’ll never quite grasp the entire picture. At the very least, we must retain respect for others and their ways of thinking. Keep dialogue open and make an honest attempt to communicate with and understand one another. There will surely come a time when even your and my views are at odds. I’m sure it won’t be too many years before I think your taste in music is crap. That’s okay as long as we don’t expect each other to have the same taste. Let’s try to be patient with one another. {Patience, heh…that’s another story.}

One of the best pieces I’ve ever read about this comes from “Verses of the Faith Mind” (Hsing Hsing Ming), an old poem written by Zen Master Seng-ts’an in China many, many years ago. Here’s a chunk that really strikes a chord:

The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

And from there it goes on, but that’s the beginning and the gist. I hope you wish to see the truth and may you not get caught up in your own opinions. Even though you’ll feel at times like your ideas are all that matter, know there is a larger way. You are connected to the larger way and can be a bigger person. There is no need to get stuck on yourself.

I love you.

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