Fixed Opinions

I’ve been thinking a lot about certainty vs uncertainty. It seems most of us have fixed opinions about most things and spend a lot of time further entrenching these positions. The most glaring example of this is any kind of political discussion. The extremity of this struck me while reading a facebook thread on Bernie Sanders. There was no actual discussion happening. Each side was just trying to murder the other using information bullets. Like a game of dodgeball.

Dodgeball

I’ve observed this in myself in the imaginary dialogues I have with people. My favorite is to argue with a strict materialist atheist. I spend a lot of time thinking up ways to justify my position against them in an irrefutable manner.

This sets the stage for an Aha moment I had last night while reading an interesting book about how to shift around our mindset. The passage I was reading was a thought exercise of adopting a rotating set of belief systems. Like for a month you strictly believe in monotheism, the next month polytheism, the next month atheism. The goal being to dislodge the fixed patterns we have in our minds and to see the world in a less dualistic manner.

This is so interesting to me and shows me a glimpse into a way of thinking without fixed opinions. The mind becomes like a free-flowing river instead of a stagnant bog. But then it occurred to me that this stagnant bog serves a very specific purpose. It gives the ego something to hold onto. I think it actively encourages us to entrench ourselves into our opinions and spin our wheels in unwinnable arguments. The more we do this the more imagined stability we have for it to cling to. And it doesn’t matter which side of the argument we’re on. The ego could care less about the content of the belief, it’s all about the process of entrenchment.

bog

But imagine for a second what our lives could be like without all this. And not just our opinions about politics, but people as well. What if we didn’t have these rigid opinions about our parents? Spouse? Kids? Dog? What if we allowed these relationships to be a free-flowing experience instead? I feel much more authenticity and enjoyment in this direction.

And I’m not saying the ideal is to go to the extreme of having no fixed opinions, but at least leaning more in that direction. Which means taking a huge step out of the norm because our society is heavily structured for the opposite.

So maybe next time you’re having a political “discussion” just start asking yourself, is this bringing me happiness? How does having this fixed opinion really effect me? Is it absolutely necessary for me to have a strong opinion about this? Why?

And then just for a split second try to imagine what it would be like if you didn’t hold onto that belief so tightly.

fast-flowing-river

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where the rubber meets the road

I realized tonight that an essential aspect of any system is how well it interacts with the real world. That a healthy system cannot be isolated to the mind, untested from fires of relationship.

I spend soooooo much time establishing these belief systems, and then use them as the foundation on which I base who I am. Since they are such an important part of ME, I need to hide them when around others. I’ll just comfortably drift through interactions with others, never really saying anything important, never really engaging, never really exposing what I truly believe. This might leave those systems brittle and untested, but at least there is a semblance of stability there.

This all changed a few months ago while working on a very intense project with a group of people. I was essentially forced to get these systems out into the open and see how well they meshed with others. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. It turns out all of this knowledge that I’ve built over the past 7 years really came in handy. But there were some glaring weaknesses. There were a few key conflicts that really made me step back and reevaluate large parts of these systems. Which was a very humbling process.

A very vulnerable process. I had to let go of that foundation that I had been clinging to for so long. To kind of float in this unknown space, disconnected from what I had known. But this allowed that system to break apart and readjust itself based on these conflicts. To learn from them. To take that experience and use it to make that system more dynamic. Flexible. Able to fit into more scenarios and mesh with more people.

The process lasted for a few months, which I think reached some sort of conclusion tonight with me realizing all this. Looking back, the system that I had before this project happened was very untested. I was very unsure as to its stability. It was appropriate for the specifics of how my mind works, but would break down when interacting with others. Or in scenarios I was unfamiliar with.

Now, it’s so much different. It’s not something that I’m clinging to. It’s not my foundation anymore. It’s more of a tool now. Something I can draw upon to understand a situation. To figure out how to relate to someone.

And it’s no longer something that I’m afraid of exposing to others. It’s been tested. I know how strong it is. And now that it’s been broken apart and reformed, it’s not as rigid as it once was. It’s come back together, but in a very fluid manner. So now it’s much easier to expand and reorganize this very quickly based on what’s happening. So it doesn’t take months of contemplation to try to rebuild it, it happens in the moment, on-the-fly. There is still that feeling of vulnerability. Like I’ve temporarily lost my foundation when I’m shifting it around. But I’ve become much more comfortable in that scenario. And it’s almost like I have a different foundation to pull from.

My foundation is now deep within my core. The divine. The system is now just a way to translate this so that others may see it easier. A way for this divine to interact in the physical world. Yeah… It’s a direct extension of the divine. Ideally. As long as it’s flexible and I’m not relying on it to establish who I am.

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I almost forgot to mention this… The whole “getting your systems out into the open and interacting with others” is one reason I’m so glad there are a lot of discussion groups set up in Austin for a course in miracles. I’ve attended a few of these, and am about to start my own (with the help of a good friend 🙂 ), and they have been so instrumental in my understanding.

If you’re in the Austin area, and free Tuesday evenings, consider yourself invited:

http://www.meetup.com/A-Course-in-Miracles-Tuesday-evening-study-group/