We are taught that it is a good thing to have opinions… on everything and anything. Express yourself! they said. Or the saying: “You are entitled to your own opinions.”
(Side note: entitlement is just an easy word for deficiency of gratitude)
We are told that, it is a good thing, when we read, and when we learn, to think critically. Critical thinking, is indeed a good skill to put on your CV while looking for a job.
We have created all these modern platforms, specifically designed to give our opinion — social media platforms to express our opinions on important and non-important events, to share our “statuses”.
When we buy a book, a pen, or a packet of recycled printing paper, we are asked to give our opinions and ratings. When we eat out, before digestion is complete, we take out our phone, hop on tripadvisor or an app of the like, and give our opinion.
We have become food critics, tourist guides, political reporters, and recycled printing paper experts.
I am not necessarily saying that this is a bad thing.
The problem is that we have lost the ability to put that critical thinking, that constant judgement and opiniation (that’s probably not a real word, but I like it!) take over all of our lives experiences.
We have lost the ability to sit back, and simply observe an event, an experience, an egg roll, without engaging our ego to the occasion. And that is quite dangerous.
In my meditation classes, I always start the session by asking my students to “dis-engage the ego”. My hope is that they train to be able to let go of their opinions and judgments throughout their day.— Raphael Reiter
We have lost our ability to step back, and to experience life. We have lost the ability to be objective to situations we find ourselves in.
And so? We have lost the ability to step in between stimulus and response of an event, physical or in our own minds, because we have turned ourselves into constant victims.
Because we are used to giving our expert opinions on everything, even on topics that we do not care about nor understand, we engage our ego into all events, and become reactive to all stimulus.
We get lost in a turmoil of ego driven thoughts about what we eat, the people we interact with, and the places we visit.
Our heart beats gets faster.
Our breathing gets shallower.
We need to develop the ability to stand back, and simply observe, with no judgement, with no ego, and without taking everything personally.
It is not always about “me”.
This will help us get rid of a multitude of sufferings. When we stop engaging our ego in everything we see, feel or experience, we remove the burden of being emotionally involved in actions that we cannot control.
We learn to let go.
We finally get peace, because this and that? It doesn’t concern us.
This is easier said than done, but with practice, it is possible.
Meditation helps of course, and other mindfulness practices. I find that studying stoic philosophy and Japanese zen philosophy has helped me a lot in this Endeavour.
And yes, it’s still a work in progress, and so it will most likely continue to be until the day I die (or lose my marbles).