We all have opinions. We all make judgments. None of us is satisfied….
What if these are connected?
I’ve long felt a hankering for getting beyond opinions. It’s easy to see this as a form of striving after certainty. We see opinion, as it relates to truth, as a negotiation with authority. Whoever has authority can be certain. Their opinions are not simply opinions. Their preferences become law.
This didn’t seem to jibe with whatever was leading me to find a way past opinion. Even after I’d been disabused of any value to be found in authority I was still drawn to look for something beyond opinion.
Judgment might be a key….
To judge is to place one’s self over something/someone. It is to project – at least to assume one can project – power over another. This is clear when the bewigged judge has placed the black hankie over his head and is about to pronounce a death sentence. Not so obvious when it’s a gossip complaining about a neighbor. But, all acts of judgment – no matter how reasoned and respected, or whimsical and arbitrary – are built upon a belief in power. If power is an illusion, then judgment is not to be trusted.
This is hard to say. Even harder to hear. Our sense of judgment recoils, “In my opinion that can’t be right!”
A clue is to be found right there in this statement. Who is having an opinion? Who is making a judgment?
None other than our old friend Ego.
We might think Ego would want to overpower opinion and have its judgments made law. That’s right, it would. But, this is not what getting beyond opinion and judgment is about. It’s not about setting up an authority. It’s about stepping away from the grip of authority.
As with so much surrounding how we see the collapse of this culture when we talk about authority, judgment, opinion – all the trappings of Ego – we tend to see the passage as going from more to less. This, in itself, would not be a problem; but, we then conflate more with better and less with worse.
This is an unfounded assumption. Less of all that is killing everything is not worse. Less of a blind obedience to the quantification of everything in favor of seeking out qualities that integrate us with life is certainly not worse than what we find our selves trapped in today.
The same holds for the trappings of power. We find it so difficult, even in the light of its colossal and repeated failures, to give up on power. We see giving it up as a loss. When it is only by giving it up that we can possibly find ways to proceed out of the grip of futility.
We see power as a solution to futility, “If I have enough power I have authority. If I have authority my opinions will stand as law. If my word is law then I have escaped futility. I will get what I want.”
Every step of this progression is false; but we find it nearly impossible not to agree with it. We may not want to have it so boldly stated; but beneath whatever equivocations we might lay over our rationalizations this pretty much covers the program for power.
Our propensity for opinion and judgment act as gatekeepers, defending the rest of Ego’s fortifications. A maze and a moat in which any attempt to overthrow Ego’s thrall will be mired and lost.
The last thing I want is to have an opinion, to enter into the market-place of ideas. The whole thing smells of playing games. There is a fundamental unseriousness in surrendering one’s life to such an up-ending and destabilizing process.
What do I mean by this?
If we take life seriously – not in the role-playing dramatics of a judge in his court, but seriously in that this moment is either fulfilled or it is lost – then we cannot afford to be thrown off balance and driven by opinion and judgment. Does a lion have an opinion? Does a goat? Does an oak tree, or a dandelion?
And that’s just if we limit ourselves to what are recognized as living entities. Does the sea have an opinion? A mountain? The moon?
These questions show how ridiculous it is to hold opinion and judgment in such a high, well, opinion.
This is reminiscent of The Fall. The sense of shame in Eve and Adam’s nakedness is not over how powerless they are to be so unclothed. It was shame at their newfound confusion. What had been an unquestioned innocence – and remember that innocence means to be free from harm – was now shattered and in pieces. Broken by this division, this fragmentation into what is known and what is unknown.
Again, we see these terms, known and unknown, as self-evident. We assume that what we know we have hold of and what we don’t know is out there to be discovered. This is the basic tenet of the religion of progress, after all. What is known is held in a purse we call certainty. What is unknown is just that which we haven’t yet managed to capture and shove into our purse.
And, of course a purse is where we hold that which gives us power….
All roads lead us back into the same maze of rationalizations.
It is in this light that it could be of value to find a way to function outside these strictures. As with all double-binds these barriers collapse once we dissolve the oppositions into a paradox we can illuminate with clarity.
You see, clarity is not certainty. It does not assume that we can know anything. Clarity, illuminated by insights, shines a light on whatever the moment demands of us so that we can join in its fulfillment. The Ego’s power over us, the illusion behind the rest of the illusions of power, dissolves. We have not fought it. We did not wrest clarity from chaos. Chaos seen as the absence of an imposed order – another form of the lie of authority.
An opinion is an explanation.
Stop explaining! We can either fulfill the moment and live, or we can explain shit and be dead inside and kill whatever we touch.
We assume we need stories to explain life. We don’t. We need stories to help us discover meaning. Meaning is not knowing. Meaning is not another name for an explanation. Meaning is never found in explanation. It can’t be….
We are lost because we turn to stories to explain….
We think meaning is the same as a reason….
We equate these meaning/reasons with explanations. We want to know how.
We worship know-how….
None of this can take us anywhere else, but back where we’ve been. Back where we’ve been lost….
But there is meaning. It is what it feels like to meet and fulfill our moment. The stories that arise in contact with meaning don’t explain it. These stories navigate mystery….
Meaning is not knowing.
Meaning can be found in not-knowing….
This meaning arises from fulfillment. It is not a matter of opinion. It cares nothing for our judgments.
This meaning fulfills form as fact. It has nothing to do with Truth, or truths….
Clear of killing abstractions it is open to life. It makes room for life.
It is living.