Here are some more thoughts on opinion that I had which build upon things I’ve previously said:
Recently, I have been emphasizing that opinion is really any mental fabrication. In this way, “opinion” and “mental fabrication” are really the same thing, at least as I use it here.
Opinion, or mental fabrications, then includes things like these:
- Points of view
This means that opinions make up most of our life. One could very well say that “life is built upon opinion”.
THE ENIGMA OF OPINION
Opinions are really something of an enigma. This is because of a conflict of two opposing qualities:
- Usefulness – We use opinions so much and they have a lot of value
- Vagueness – Opinions are variable, change easily, and can be proven wrong
These as if conflict with each other causing great problems and dilemmas.
Opinions have great value and use because of things such as these:
- They allow us to deal with situations and life
- They give one a tool to use in life
- They allow a means to organize and plan
- They can be proven right
- They can have a unifying quality
In this way, under the right conditions, opinions have great and tremendous value. It is through opinions that things have been accomplished in the world. One could probably say that without opinions we would probably be much like cattle in the fields.
My observation is that “all opinions are correct . . . in some way”. When I say this I mean if a person “believes” in the opinion and its not just some statement a person happens to say. Basically, any opinion that a person believes is correct in some way. Some ways that make it “correct” include:
- The situation
- The “mood”
- A persons character
- The “background” that the opinion rests upon
These all create a condition of variability that can appear in a trillion different ways causing, of course, a trillion different opinions. This condition of variability also creates a condition of great vagueness . . .
I have another saying: “All opinions are wrong . . . in some way”.
This is because of things such as:
- They are variable
- Opinions conflict
- What works in one situation doesn’t work in another
- They can be proven wrong
In many ways, opinions are very fragile, much like smoke that blow away with the smallest breeze. I don’t think people realize how fragile opinions are. If one looks in the past one see’s all these opinions – beliefs, truths, religions, facts, etc. – that people thought were absolute, and once their time has passed they fell like they were nothing. Do you think any belief that you have is immune to that? I wouldn’t count on it.
The Importance of Situation
We can see that opinions are very situation dependent. Opinion needs the correct situation to give it value. When that situation disappears or changes then the value of the opinion changes. This is why I have sayings such as:
“Opinions work when the situation favors it”
“Opinion works when there is nothing to contradict it”
This means that opinion, mental fabrication, thought, knowledge, etc. is not “true”, in itself, but only in the context of the situation that it is associated with. This reveals that opinion is a reaction to a situation. It as if “follows” the situation. To put it another way, opinion is secondary to a situation, which comes first. In this way, we could say that the enigma of opinion can be described in this way:
“We treat something that is second as if it was first”
But the power of opinion is so great that we tend to think that it “is” first, as if it is the situation. In actuality, opinion is only a describing of the situation. The problem is that we take opinions too seriously.
THE “OPINION IDENTITY”
Opinions have such an impact that they deceive us by making us take them too seriously. In many ways, the words of opinions are like a big vacuum that sucks us into it, dominating us. This tendency is caused by things such as:
- It is a tool that we can use
- It becomes an extension of self
- It has great impact
In these ways, we as if “become” the opinion and identify it with our self and our life. I speak of this as the “opinion identity”. Because of this, opinions become more than opinions – words and ideas – they become “us” and “me” . . . they become our identity, of who we are and dictate our association with the world.
Much of human identity is based in “opinion identity”. It has held humanity together, glued it together, and gave us something to build upon. But, in actuality, it is vague and ever-changing. It is rooted in the enigma of opinion.
“Wars of Opinion” – The Drive to Domination
All through history the vague enigma quality of opinion has caused problems. One could even say that history is made up of many “wars of opinion”. Society is made up of a multitude of opinions which are all vying to become the dominate opinion. This drive to domination is a result of the desire for the “opinion identity” and the fear of its absence . . . alienation. This shows that identity offers security and, accordingly, opinion offers security. In this way, the “wars of opinion” are really “wars of security”.
What is feared is the loss of identity which is alienation . . .
Alienation – The Problem of “Opinion Rigidity”
The enigma quality of opinion causes a natural tendency to alienation. This is because opinions are rooted in situation, as I said above, and situation changes so easily . . . “what was once right is now wrong”.
Once we accept the identity that “opinion identity” offers then we are as if “locked” into it. That identity becomes “us”. As a result, when the situation changes, the opinion changes, but we have a hard time changing along with it. I call this “opinion rigidity”, a tendency where we become so rigid in opinion, because it has become our identity, that we can’t change.
The amount of problems “opinion rigidity” has caused in the world is quite extensive. I would even venture to say that much of the conflict of humanity is based in “opinion rigidity” or is somehow related to it. There are people with new identities in conflict with people with established identities, for example.
This changing identities has become an increasing problem, nowadays, because every time you turn around the conditions has changed and, accordingly, the opinions have changed which causes a change in identity.
The Problem of Identity
According to what I see people can’t just “change identities”. I often get a kick how people think that people are supposed to change identities like changing hats. This inability shows a quality about identity, that once a person takes an identity they are as if “molded” into its particular form. Because of this, one can’t just change. Its like trying to change pottery, which once was malleable clay but is now hard and will break if you try to bend it.
Some common reactions to the inability to change identities include:
- Stagnation . . . apathy
- Forming “sub-groups”
- Blindly agreeing with society
- An “aloneness”
- Living with a disconnectedness with life
- Preoccupation with hobbies and activities
To me, these are common qualities in modern society and are primarily a result of the endless change of modern society and the upsetting of society.
A lot of this problem has root in what make up opinions . . . words.
BECOMING TOO WORD ORIENTED
One could say that the enigma of opinion is the enigma of words and what words create (thoughts, ideas, knowledge, etc). In short, we have become overly dependent on words, and the creation of words, but words are not our nature. As a result, there is a conflict between that part of us that uses words and our deeper nature that does not use words.
A number of things have caused us to be too word oriented:
- Writing things down, particularly with books
- Reciting stories, myths, etc.
- A natural tendency to rely on words because they are a means to communication
- The prevalence of education and learning
- The already existing effects of words and what they create
Words, and what they create, tend to make things “written in stone”, unchanging, rigid, and inflexible.
PASSION AND BEINGNESS
I’ve always said that once something has taken word form it has been degraded. This states that there is something that becomes before the word, that motivates it. In other words, words are motivated by something.
This is why I often say, “seek what is before the word”. I generally speak of what is before the word as “passion”. To me, passion is not necessarily an emotion, though it can appear as an emotion. I would describe it more as a “force” or “movement” or “energy”. It is “something that moves you”. It is, of course, wordless. As a result, it is hard to put into words.
When a persons “seeks what is before the word” then they are are primarily seeking an awareness of passion. This is like a “pre-word awareness”. Most of our awareness is based in words and what they create. Even though we may not use words in our awareness the framework of our perception has a basis in words. For example, when we look up at the sun we know that it revolves around the earth but we don’t think about it. Our perception has already been “set up” by words previously in our life.
The “pre-word awareness” leads to beingness, which is like a “pre-word identity”. It is an awareness not based in words or what words have created. In this way, its like a “raw” awareness of seeing things “as is”.
Beingness is different than identity in a number of ways:
- Its not rigid nor is it variable. It has a quality of “constancy”.
- Its not based in a situation.
- A person more associates themselves with the “all” of everything.
- There is an absence of self.
In many ways, beingness is something like a “spiritual-sense” that is not based in any religion, dogma, or belief as it is wordless. Its a naturally appearing phenomena.
In this way, we see two paths:
- Word-based path – words lead to opinion which lead to identity. This is particularly prevalent in very organized and large societies such as modern society. These tend to be societies where human creations are dominant. They tend to view the world in a dead and mechanical way.
- Wordless-based path – pre-word awareness leads to passion which leads to beingness. This path tends to be more prevalent in non-organized and small societies. These are societies that have not created an involved network or system of word-based manifestations, such as organized religions, science, etc. As a result, these are societies where the conditions of nature are dominant. They tend to view the world in an animistic way, as if were alive.
One of the things we see is that the prevalence of words, and what they create, tend to create a “dead” view of the world. In a way, words rob the “life” out of life. This means that though words and opinions fabricate an elaborate mental fabricated world for us, they actually destroy the life of the world. The more one becomes engrossed in the words the more deader the world becomes. This is an enigma of opinions, of words, of thought, of ideas, of beliefs, of knowledge, of science, and so on.
THE “STANCE TOWARD WORDS”
I’ve always felt that because of the problem that words and what words create, such as opinion, and the fact that we need them, there is great importance in what I call our “stance toward words”. This refers to the need to have a proper attitude to words, their use, and their effect on us.
Normally, we accept words, and what they create, without doubt, as if it they were gospel. We primarily live in the world that the words have created, in the “word world”, as if that was the only world in existence. We tend to forget the wordless world, the world of beingness, where the world is living and alive as a reality, of wordless awareness.
To have a proper “stance toward words” requires a person to be aware of the “wordless”. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. To me, to truly be “wordless” means that even your inquiry into it isn’t based in any belief or idea. If you seek the wordless based on an idea then you are still following the “word world” which means you’ll view the wordless in a “word way”, so to speak. For example, one will intellectualize about it and confuse the intellectualizing with the “wordless”. The best way to understand what “wordless” means is when a person discovers it for himself. I think that it the greatest thing of all but, for many people, I don’t think it comes easy. In fact, that seems the hardest part. How does a person discover the “wordless”? I don’t think that is an easy question to answer. Frankly, I don’t know how to answer that.
BECOMING “WORDLESS” – DISCOVERING BEINGNESS
Some techniques of becoming “wordless” include:
- Learn to relax. Don’t get “wound up” with things. Relax ones body and mind. If you feel any tension “let it go”.
- Have no thoughts. Do no thinking whatsoever. Try to be completely silent. If a thought comes to your head just stop it.
- Forget ones self. Cease to see ones self as a separate entity. Forget the “me” and “I”.
- Be aware. In a way, awareness replaces ones thoughts. It becomes the canvas that everything is painted upon.
- Practice a “presence of existence”. Awareness as if “opens the self to existence”, so to speak. That is to say, a person becomes very aware of “existence”, that one is “there in the world”. The emphasis is an awareness of existence, not on ones self or the world in particular.
- “Become passion”. This refers to the feeling of any passion or movement that appears. Feel it as a part of ones self, not something that is removed from you. One will find that “one is made up of passion”.
Even though I use the expression “wordless” this is a process of discovering beingness.
A common feeling with beingness is being bored, that one is wasting ones time, or that “there is so little”. This is because beingness requires a slowing down and a limiting of things. In many respects, one as if slows down to a crawl. That’s not as easy as it sounds.
Another thing that comes out is hidden and repressed conflicts. This often requires one to inquire about these conflicts and try to resolve them. In this way, becoming “wordless” becomes a self inquiry and self exploration. The need to resolve these problems can put great pressure on a person and can even bring qualities out in a person that a person didn’t know they had.
Rediscovery – Regression
One could say that beingness is like a new identity and a different self. I think it would be more accurate to say it is a rediscovering. It seems, to me, that beingness is our “original state of mind” as an infant (and, perhaps, even in the womb?) before life complicated it. In this way, its actually a regression. Because of this, it can give a quality of “starting over” or “looking at things with new eyes”.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen