There’s a Buddhist story of an American who visited a Zen master.
He wanted to persuade him to teach him.
They sat cross-legged on the floor to take tea.
The student wanted to impress the Zen master with his knowledge.
He started talking straight away.
He said, “I’ve spent many years studying Zen.”
The master picked up the teapot and started to pour into the student’s cup.
The student said, “I meditate three times a day to achieve inner peace.”
The master carried on pouring tea into his cup.
The student said, “I gave up meat and dairy, then I became a vegan.”
Now the student’s cup was full.
But the master kept pouring.
The student said, “I’ve studied all the famous koans”
The master kept pouring and the cup began to overflow.
The student pretended not to notice, and carried on talking.
He said, “I’ve studied all the ancient masters.”
The master kept pouring and the tea spread across the mat.
The student continued, “Now I need some direction to achieve full enlightenment.”
The master kept pouring.
Just as the pool of overflowing tea reached the student he jumped up.
He said, “What are you doing? Stop pouring. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The Zen master finally spoke.
He said, “Your mind is like this cup. It is so full there is no more room for any more. Until you learn to empty your mind, there is no point in trying to put anything else into it.”
There it is.
That’s how all our minds are.
We think strength lies in having strong opinions.
So that’s what we have.
The more, the better.
This is the right, everything else is wrong.
This solution works, everything else won’t.
This is the correct answer, anything else will fail
And the truth is, we hang onto our strong opinions from fear.
Fear of letting go.
So they’re not really strong at all.
We hold onto them because we’re frightened, if we let them go we may not get anything better to replace them.
Then we’ll have lost what we have without having anything else.
So that’s the fear.
But actually, all strong opinions do is ensure there’s no room for anything else.
So it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
As long as we’ve got strong opinions, we’ve got a closed mind.
So nothing else can get in.
So we have no chance of learning.
Because we’re not open to it.
So we can’t grow.
We can’t get better.
Doesn’t it make more sense to constantly check our strong opinions against new stuff?
Maybe they’re better, maybe they’re not.
But it would be dopey to ignore them if they are.
And we won’t know if they’re better unless we try them on for size.
The philosopher Whitehead said, “The mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it.”
Doesn’t that make more sense?
Look at ideas as shopping.
Try it on, see if it fits.
If you like it, keep it, if you don’t, put it back.
Try something else.
There are plenty around, they’re changing all the time, and they’re all free.
Come at life out of a question, not of an answer.