Pema Chödrön On Our Opinions
One of the things this election has brought to light is just how tightly we hold on to our opinions, our preconceived notions, our worldview. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, no matter who we are in our hearts, it seems we hold on more deeply than ever to those things which we know to be true. Or are they? I've been reflecting a lot on how I need to change in order that the things around me may change, because revolutions always start within. Part of that change involves understanding, reimagining, and softening my conception of my opinions. Pema Chödrön, in her great gift of a book When Things Fall Apart, offers some guidance on maintaining a healthy relationship with our opinions. She writes:
"...We have a lot of opinions, and we tend to take them as truth. But actually they aren't truth. They are just our opinions...All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are. To have even a few seconds of doubt about the solidity and absolute truth of our own opinions, just to begin to see that we do have opinions, introduces to us the possibility of egolessness. We don't have to make these opinions go away and we don't have to criticize ourselves for having them. We could just notice...Then we can also begin to realize how solid we make things and how easy it is to get into a war in which we want our opinions to win and someone else's to lose. It is especially tempting to do this when we're engaged in social action...No matter how well documented or noble our cause is, it won't be helped by our feeling aggression towards the oppressors or those who are promoting the danger. Nothing will ever change through aggression...When we hold on to our opinions with aggression, no matter how valid our cause, we are simply adding more aggression to the planet, and violence and pain increase. Cultivating nonaggression is cultivating peace. The way to stop the war is to stop hating the enemy. It starts with seeing our opinions of ourselves and of others as simply our take on reality and not making them a reason to increase the negativity on the planet."
And while we're on the topic, here are a few Buddhist teachers sharing their feelings on the election outcome, many of which I found so comforting. In particular:
"To suffer based on expectations is to live haunted and hunted. But we are fortunate. There could be no other answer to our meditation and prayers in dissolving hatred than to be placed front and center with it and be exposed. When a shift in a system has occurred, especially one that causes fear and discomfort, it allows for something strikingly different to appear, furthering our evolution as people...Now is the time we have been practicing for."
- Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
What immense power lies in such small shifts in our thinking.