For the opinionated, the opinion and the self are one. The more ego-identified you are, the more you will identify with your own opinions. You will also tend to be emotionally entangled within your own situations, problems, experiences, and thoughts. If you are an opinionated person and someone threatens your belief system, your entire sense of survival will seemingly depend on your ability to defend those beliefs. This identification with your own opinions will only serve to cement your clouded state of unconsciousness, and create unnecessary suffering.
Polarity is sharpened by the ego because this aspect of the mind so closely identifies the self with a concept. The more closely you identify with an idea or ideology, the more polarized and difficult life becomes, and the more you will suffer. As long as you live in this polarized reality (hot/cold, up/down, good/evil), you cannot ignore or discard it altogether. You can, however, transcend it so that polarity is seen for what it is. Ergo, life becomes more favorable, benevolent, and cooperative.
I would like to be more specific about what an opinion is since most people are not aware just how dangerous their opinions can be. There are two types of opinions. The first type I refer to as an egoic opinion and constitutes about 90 percent of all opinions. The second type is non-egoic and is the opinion type of the Next Human. An egoic opinion is a group of thoughts about a thing or idea with which you are so closely identified, it is believed to be the absolute truth. And because of this emotional entanglement, that truth becomes who you see yourself to be: your identity. You and the opinion have become inseparable. So when someone else challenges your egoic opinion, that person is perceived as a physical threat to your survival. This is when the amygdala triggers the physiological response that a saber-toothed tiger is trying to eat you.
A non-egoic opinion, on the other hand, is a number of thoughts about a thing or idea that you are neither identified with nor emotionally tethered to. If someone challenges you, since you are not identified with your opinion, you remain a detached, non-judgmental observer of polarized views—even though one of those views is yours. You respect the other’s opinion and clearly understand where he or she is coming from. As a result, no physiological response is triggered, and inner peace is maintained.
In the Xinxin Ming (Faith in Mind), a famous poem written by the third patriarch of Zen Buddhism, Master Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, says: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.” When you are ego-identified, however, all your opinions will be cherished. Why? Because the ego is all about polarity. It dissolves in a non-confrontational reality. Therefore, it separates itself from others so that it can feel superior to them through its cherished opinions. And this is how the polarity of the ego is played out between individuals, parties, groups, and nations.
So why is Seng-ts’an telling us not to seek the truth? How will we find wisdom if we don’t pursue it? How will we find enlightenment if we do not seek it? The reason Seng-ts’an is instructing us not to seek the truth is because absolute truth, or the ultimate reality, is not something objective or conceptual, nor is it separate from you. It’s not some “thing” you will discover in the way of opinion or belief, which is only a self-perception based on where you are on the ladder of evolutionary consciousness. Absolute truth is not something “out there” waiting to be found. Ultimately, there is no “out there.” The entire universe is inside you. Opinions and beliefs, even words like “you” or “me,” are nothing more than conceptual points of reference existing solely in the mind. They may have a practical value in daily life, but when assumed to be the absolute truth they distort perception.
Know that absolute truth cannot be found in a conceptual world. The world as we see it is manifested directly from our thoughts and beliefs. Therefore, our entire reality is conceptual. Everything we can create, from the words you are reading now to the language that you’re reading it in, to the book that you’re reading it from, was originally just a concept. Before any idea came to be, the mind had to dream it up first. In a sense, our entire society is an interactive construct that’s manufactured primarily by the ideas stemming from a hive mind.
An analogy for what I’m talking about here is perfectly illustrated in a scene from the movie The Matrix when Morpheus informs Neo that the “dream-walkers” are so much a part of the Matrix system of control, the “pseudo reality” that they will fight to defend it:
"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters, the very minds of the people we are trying to save—but until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, they will fight to protect it."
Zen Master Seng-ts’an viewed the world through an undistorted lens of enlightenment and was acutely aware how the “matrix of the mind” or system of our beliefs is capable of deluding us. He was well aware that seeking absolute truth is as absurd as a dog chasing after its own tail. Just as we understand that the dog already has its own tail from the very beginning, the Next Human will know that she need not search for ultimate truth beyond her Self. The very fact that you are conscious is proof enough that you don’t need to actively seek out consciousness. It’s simply the awareness that you already have “your tail.” Know that you already are the embodiment of absolute truth in human form. Look no further.
Seng-ts’an says “only cease to cherish opinions,” because opinions will always be rooted in the conceptual world of form. They are completely subjective and therefore subject to each individual’s perception of their own reality as they see it. When you finally realize that none of your ideas about truth are real, it can be quite a shock to your mind. Note that Seng-ts’an is not saying you should never have opinions or beliefs. He’s only saying not to cherish these opinions in your head. To cherish implies an emotional attachment, a distortion of reality, and a dangerously high value placed on it since the opinion is believed to be an intricate part of your very existence, and potentially a threat to your survival. This cherishing of opinions is what your pseudo self, the ego, feeds on.
BIO: Jason Lincoln Jeffers is a spiritual teacher, life coach, author of "The Next Human", artist, evolutionary astrologer, philosopher, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and authority on metaphysics, transpersonal psychology, and alternative medicine. In 2001 Jason's life was transformed by an ancient mystical inner body experience known as a kundalini awakening. His mission is to help humanity access its untouched free will, realize its divinity, and evolve into the Next Human.