“Cease to Cherish Opinion”
When we have the insight we are not our thoughts, we do we not awaken instantly?
It’s because we cling to concepts.
Clinging to concepts is the biggest obstacle to awakening. It can be a very obvious or a very subtle obstacle. It shows up in many ways:
Resistance to starting: “I will become emotion-less”, “I need to understand completely first”. “What will I be without thoughts?” “I am not ready.” “I will start tomorrow.” The resistance can show up as frustration, anger and irritation. Awakening is Now or never.
Attachment to awakening: We form all sorts of concepts about what awakening is and how we will get there.
Attachment to gurus: devotion is not awakening.
Attachment to practices: The phantom in us looks immediately for answers in external authorities. We chase the answers, typically through religion, philosophy, spirituality, meditation, traditions, self-improvement, books, and we adapt others’ ideas and beliefs, and revelations.
Attachment to “me”: We are convinced that this story will finally end all the other stories, at some future date. In our minds we form ideas. Your idea may be enlightenment or awakening or the purpose of life or natural being or flow or God or reincarnation or some sort of new-age thing. We enshrine the simplicity of the unknown and call it enlightenment.Practicing is not living.
Attachment to effort: do you listen to or read Eckhart Tolle or Adyashanti or some other favorite guru over and over and over again?
Spiritualized Ego: Do you believe yourself to be on a mission to awaken—a sensitive, mature, spiritual, noble mission which is better than the pedestrian desires of chasing money, power, relationships and happiness? Examine this fiction.
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Can it be seen that these are just thoughts? Can it be seen that the ideas are not the same as being? Can it be seen that there never can be a satisfying end to all the mental stories? Thought-stories are not looking for an end, they are constantly looking for continuation. The mind has a strong tendency to believe and categorize, codify, organize into hierarchies, cling to ideas of priests, lineages, traditions, right and wrong, higher and lower and so on. Beliefs-all beliefs—are a heavy obstacle to direct experience of Truth. This formation of ideas and beliefs leads to a frustrating, futile chase.
“You impose limits to your true nature of infinite being, then, you get displeased to be only a limited creature, then you begin spiritual practices to transcend these non-existing limits. But if your practice itself implies the existence of these limits, how could they allow you transcend them?”
In a poem Seng-ts’an writes: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”
Rely only on direct experience. It may feel little uncomfortable to rely only direct experience, because what do we really know from direct experience? If you go into it, there isn’t much we can be sure of. “I exist,” there is Awareness, and all experience is in the Now. That’s about it.
Get comfortable with the emptiness of no beliefs, no ideas, no concepts, no knowing, no desires, no anticipation, no system, and no future.
“When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing, then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected.” -Nisgardatta
“Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”