The Error of Conceptual Thought (a.k.a. That's Your Opinion)
Everyday we are plagued by our ideas and opinions regarding everything we encounter: The day is going to be tough; I look fat in this outfit; I'd rather sleep in today; She's prettier than I am; Why should I have to do this; He's tall; This traffic is bad, etc. It goes on and on. These thoughts are described as 'conceptual thoughts', and quite simply, they are your personal opinion or evaluation of the people, places, feelings and events you encounter. Conceptual thinking is something we must release on our way to enlightenment, otherwise it will continue to cloud your vision.
To abandon conceptual thought, simply abandon thinking that something is heavy or light, long or short, pretty or ugly, right or wrong, and realize these conclusions only serve to describe YOUR viewpoint or position at the time, and nothing more. Does that sound crazy? Here's an example to broaden your perspective:
For example, you may sit on your porch in the early morning and sip from a lovely cup of coffee or tea and watch the glory of the new rising day: The clouds floating overhead in a bright blue sky, the light balmy breeze caressing your shoulders, butterflies flutter across the garden, a robin hops thru the yard stopping here and there to pluck a worm for his breakfast. It’s quite picturesque on your part, but quite apocalyptic from the worm’s viewpoint. Prettiest morning you’ve ever seen, worst day he’ll ever have. It’s the same day, though, viewed through different viewpoints. The day is what it is. It may seem harsh, or serene, but it is neither. It is what it is, and nothing more. So, how valid and important are opinions and viewpoints? Perhaps you’ll begin to see they aren’t worth much of anything at all, and they’re at the root of much of the world’s pain and conflict.
Everything only is what it is, and opinions and concepts only serve to demonstrate how tightly you are wrapped into your own little world – one-sided and self-involved. So can you lay your opinions aside? Let’s see.
Ideas and opinions are only learned reactions stemming from your particular sense of self. In a way, they make you you. They make us feel good and secure, and further identify us to ourselves and others. That’s why we do it. It feeds the vanity and supports the idea of our individual self as uniquely you. Without those separate egos and unique identities, it would not be possible to have various viewpoints. There would only be ‘what is’, not our various opinions of it. It is a vortex; thinking as we do only leads into more false thinking, rapidly building upon itself, sucking you into thinking you're something that you are not.
In truth, there is no right or wrong, tall or short. A peanut would be nothing to an elephant, but a feast lasting for days to an ant. So is that peanut feast or famine? Big or small? Neither. It is only the peanut. And only when something else perceives it from a particular viewpoint does it seem to have any measurable attributes. In truth, it's simply what it is. Get it? What IS, simply IS, pure and simple. But on the sidebar, there remains your opinion of ‘what is’ (hard or easy, fun or boring). But to have an opinion regarding it in no way changes what ‘IS’. It just IS.
We need to change our way of thinking. Some of the problem comes from the fact that we tend to think of things as two sides of a coin: Heads, it’s male, tails it’s female. Or, right on one side, and wrong on the other. It would be more accurate to abandon thinking of things as two sides of a coin and use a ruler as a visualization tool instead, with ‘right’ on one end at 1 inches, and ‘wrong’ on the other at 12 inches, or ‘black’ on one end and ‘white’ on the other, or ‘happy’ on one end and ‘sad’ on the other. All the degrees in between these opposites are merely where you’re at the time. It's your opinion point. Your concept of reality.
Again, in reality, there is only ‘what is’, and your opinion of it. And one’s opinion depends on their position. And the ability to even have a position is dependent on a separate self, or ego, without which there would only be the Truth – simply ‘what is’. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be – the way it actually is, but we’ve layered it so deeply with our false opinions and ideas that it makes it very, very difficult to know.
We’ve lost ourselves in a bad and highly opinionated dream. A dream that’s culturally and socially reinforced: From infancy, we’re taught to distinguish differences and to remember those differences. The more facts and differences we can distinguish, the smarter we're believed to be. But the opposite is true. The road of distinguishing differences leads to fear, making us stiff and breakable, like glass. Distinguishing differences obviously leads us to identify the unfamiliar ( I know this, I don't know that), which leads to war, strife, greed, anger and isolation. To abandon conceptual thoughts leads to peace, oneness, unity, true freedom and Truth.
Try to free yourself from the thought of something existing as big or little, smart or dumb, lost or gained. It simply always IS. To apply concepts to it does not alter it, but only describes your condition or viewpoint. Applying such thinking is like trying to constantly describe the wind, which is transient and ever-changing. Why bother? It is such erroneous thinking that gives rise to further wrong thinking, and there can be no such distinctions without significant cost.
If your viewpoint is predictable and static, then things and ideas around you seem to have a fixed attribute. They seem to repeatedly be heavy or light, right or wrong, happy or sad. But can you see that it is you and your fixed viewpoint that gives the illusion that other things have preset natures? This is a very esoteric thing to grasp, and only the most earnest of Seekers will be able to do it. But once you come to know this Truth, the walls of your world will seem to dissolve, and you find yourself standing on a completely new landscape and level of understanding. So, if you do not get this, keep trying.
The cost of making such distinctions is what is demonstrated by the parable of Adam and Eve eating fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (distinctions and opposites, see?). This story attempts to instruct that when we begin to apply our perceived concepts and opinions to what simply IS, we drive ourselves out of Paradise. It demonstrates our firm belief (which can ironically be attributed to our false sense of self-esteem) that we are distinct and separate from God and from each other, and denies our natural state of holiness or wholeness and Oneness.
Life then becomes complicated, a hardship, as we have made it ‘every man for himself’ as we divide one man from another, and ourself from Ourself, which we now perceive as our ‘Higher Self’, ‘God’, or ‘Creator/Source’. When we give birth to ourself as separate, we are effectively severed from the One, because in our mind we have made this distinction and (erroneously) believe that we are now separate, cast away, lost. And because we think we are separate, we busy ourselves in search of a Holy Grail in the form of the answer to a question that needs no answer, as the question itself isn’t real: “How do we once again rejoin God? How can we appease Him for our wrongdoings?” The answer is irrelevant, and cannot, does not need to be answered. We aren't separate, and "He's" not mad at "us". That’s why we struggle with it so, concocting religions full of holes to try and secure some kind of an answer. We are afraid.
In Truth, we have never been apart for one second – only in our mind, where we have allowed this distinction to take hold. It’s like asking the question: “How can we keep the sky from raining cans of diced tomatoes?” Who cares? It’s doesn’t matter, because it needs no answer. The sky doesn’t rain cans of tomatoes. So stop asking the question. And we do not have to find our way back to God/Creator/Source, or appease Him. We have never been apart for a millionth of a second, and He’s not mad. Stop asking the question.
We need to hear the true meaning of the story of the story of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”, and not take the fruit of ‘good and evil’ within us, as it only causes these false conclusions and pain. Make no such distinctions. There is ONLY ‘what is’, and your opinion of it.
So, now how much is your opinion worth, and what does it really say about you? Everything only is what it is. So abandon your conceptual thoughts, opinions and ideas. It’s The Way. You must free yourself from your opinions and concepts as a first step.
You do not do this with struggle, but by seeing it truthfully as it is. Once you really see what your opinions and concepts are really made of, they begin to fade without effort. If they do not, then you have not seen this point clearly, and should look at it again.
It should be as effortless as this: Suppose you thought the moon was square – you were certain of it. Once you actually see the moon, you know that it is round. You didn’t have to struggle with the idea of it being square. It instantly changed once you saw clearly, without any struggle whatsoever. The ‘seeing’ is the only action needed. Laying aside your concepts and opinions should occur in a similar manner. As difficult as it may have sounded to accomplish, it is as simple as that.
Keep looking until you see. It is only shadows, at best, that are keeping you tied to an illusionary world of pleasure and pain. Once the truth is know, it will effortlessly right itself within you, and you will see the entire world differently.
And you will be on the path to The Way.