Opinions – Everybody’s got one

The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one.

Certainty is an illusion. Absolute certainty is an illusion absolutely. In spite of, or maybe because of this, humans crave certainty. (Thus we create conditions which favour the arising of suffering). When we find a point of view (or one that was given to us as a child) which seems to work, we cling to it.  

We might not like it to admit it, but the fact is that we are all close-minded, that is to say we already have a point of view (an opinion) about pretty much everything. What’s more, we are prepared to argue and fight to defend our points of view. Ironically, the more doubts we have, the stronger our need to argue/fight. We organise our lives and relationships according to these points of view. We will even kill those who have a different point of view….all this to convince ourselves and others that our point of view is the right one…  Just to be right.

A well-known Buddhist story gives some suggestions about this:

A man on a journey comes to a fast-flowing river he needs to cross. He sees no means of crossing − no boats, bridges or ferries  − nothing. Unperturbed, he gathers up branches, twigs, leaves and vines. With these materials he constructs a raft upon which he lies and paddles across.

The Buddha continues: Our man, now safe and sound on the other side, wonders what to do with his raft. A good question, what should he do? He might think, “This raft is so useful that I will carry it with me always, on my back, even on dry land”. Or he could simply give thanks and move on, leaving the raft for another. Clearly, the second of these choices makes more sense. The raft was very useful in its moment, in that place and in those particular circumstances.

A point of view, our opinion is like that raft − useful in a particular moment, place and time. Our points of view should be flexible; we should carry them lightly.

Opinions are like assholes; everyone’s got one. Anonymous

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