Why our opinions don’t matter…but the truth does

One of the tenets of New Age or “spiritual but not religious” philosophy that I found hard to swallow in the beginning was the idea of staying neutral to all things; not judging outcomes, not judging situations, and not clinging to dogmatic opinions. Opinions, so we are told, are simply inventions of our ego – and the universe cares not a whit for any of it.

My mind protested – surely truth exists! After all, even the idea that there are no absolute truths claims to be an absolute truth. Anyone who advocates this opinion really ought to be consistent and argue that there are no absolute truths besides the fact that there are no absolute truths. But then, claiming the existence of just one absolute truth tends to undermine the credibility of the entire opinion.

Indeed, there really is truth. And there really is a right way and a wrong way to live your life. Not all decisions that we make in our lives are subject to this absoluteness, but many of them are. Yes, there is an order to life – what is traditionally known as the natural order.

Diet is a great example of the distinction between the natural order and subjective opinion. Broadly summarised, the natural order of food is that we should eat enough to satiate hunger and sustain our bodily functions – and no more, and that the food we eat should be unprocessed, unadulterated by chemicals and full of nutrients. As long as the food we eat covers these basic requirements, then our diet is in tune with the natural order and will be healthy for us. Any other dietary prescriptions beyond the natural order of food are the realm of subjective opinion only. Certainly, individuals vary in their specific requirements, but any requirements outside of the natural order are ultimately traceable back to mental patterns and beliefs.

A common belief among spiritual people is that a wholly plant based diet is higher vibrational than an omnivorous diet, because meat carries the vibration of death, or something. Certainly it is true that when people switch to a vegetarian diet, they often report greater mental clarity, happiness and spiritual abilities. The trouble is, so do people on the keto diet – which consists of more meat than anything else. Provided both diets cover the requirements of the natural order, they are both capable of producing the reported results, provided people believe in them.

I’m not the first person to note this, by the way – Louse Hay observes the equal effectiveness of contradictory diet advice in You Can Hear Your Life. What do we learn from it? The natural order matters – food must be unprocessed, unadulterated and nutritious to be healthy. However, beyond the natural order, our dietary opinions do not matter at all. If we believe in it, it works. Eventually we may raise ourselves to such a level of consciousness that we transcend even the natural order – as in the well-documented stories of mystics who have completely moved beyond the need for food and drink. But most of us are bound by the rules of the natural order; because the natural order is the absolute truth that governs life on Earth – and if we live our life in opposition to it, it will crush us.

Although there is still significant debate about certain aspects of the natural order, some parts of it are accepted by virtually all. Don’t steal, as stealing leads to anxiety, remorse, escalating dishonesty, avarice, possible legal consequences and so on. Don’t lie, as it will lead to many of the same consequences and result in a tendency to be lied to. And although it is now far from universally accepted, I think most people would agree that sexual promiscuity is a violation of the natural order, which leads to guilt, loss of self-respect, addiction to gross pleasures, unwanted pregnancies, STDs, loss of spiritual aspiration, a tendency to sexualise others, escalating sexual practices and so on.  Thus, the absolute truth about sexuality that proceeds from the natural order is that sexual activity must be confined within certain strict limits, or it will spill over and cause undesirable consequences for the individual and society.

However, any further inferences that we make from this absolute truth tend to be subjective opinions. For example, the idea that there should be civil laws regulating people’s sexual conduct is not an absolute truth. The reason for this is simple: while we can know the principles on which life is based, we cannot know the grand plan that governs all things.

Allow me to explain.  Formerly, there were civil laws and expectations governing polite society that dictated our rules of sexual conduct. That all changed in the 20th century, especially with the spectacular explosion of sexual liberty that occurred in the 60s.  Comparing western world statistics for divorce, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, pornography use, extramarital affairs and, sadly, depression and suicide between the 1950s and now, it appears that this sexual liberation was disastrous for the overall order and happiness of society. Indeed, if the ultimate purpose of life is to build an ordered, comfortable, prosperous society with a certain degree of equality and a high standard of living, then civil laws and expectations governing sexual conduct appear to be a sensible and logical measure.

But since the ultimate purpose of life is actually to evolve our souls and bring the uncreated, infinite eternal into created, finite form – perhaps this temporary setback in society actually serves a greater good. Having had the scaffolding of civil laws and expectations removed, perhaps we are now being left to fend for ourselves in order that we may stumble and fall – and ultimately rise again, rediscovering the truth of the natural order in a much deeper way than laws and expectations could ever impress upon us.  Just as a child can be told not to touch a hot stove, but may only learn the lesson thoroughly after he disobeys the order and burns himself, it seems that we are learning to deeply ingrain the truths of the natural order in our souls by seeing for ourselves the nasty consequences of disobeying them.  Or perhaps this is completely wrong, and there is another equally providential reason for the scaffolding of polite society having been torn down – we simply cannot know the grand plan until its unfoldment.

Whatever becomes of society, we should remember two things: the natural order on this planet is unchanging and merciless. If we live our life in opposition to it, we will create severe consequences for ourselves – and this is an inescapable fact, not an opinion. But whatever thoughts we hold on the way things should be, or the way society should be run are nothing but our own opinions. And even though the road may get a little rocky along the way, the destination is far greater than anything we can conceive of.

Whatever stage we are at in that grand plan, let’s keep our peace and remain neutral at all times to the grand design of the all-knowing one.

Just 5 minutes a day to stop judging others – the simple exercise

Before I dive into my simple five minute technique to banish judgment from your mind, let’s take a brief moment to get clear on why you would want to do this. I assume most readers would consider this task to be self-evidently worthwhile, however it’s helpful to be specific about the benefits in order to foster motivation and persistence. It can be easy to fall away from a practice when you’re not clear on precisely why you’re doing it in the first place – so let’s get that straight right from the beginning! The three chief benefits of banishing judgment are:

1. It helps to develop intuitive abilities

Humans naturally have the ability to sense and perceive energy, in many of its different forms. We all have experience with this in one form or another, although for most people it manifests in subtle and unconscious ways, such as a vague sense of unease – a “gut feeling”; or a “hunch” that we should take a particular course of action.

Everyone is capable of taking these abilities to the next level and gaining a more profound, consciously intuitive understanding of the world. However, the first step to developing this is to work on silencing the ego mind, since the ego mind is inclined to judge and rationalise. When the ego-mind is in control, subtle energetic clues tend to get drowned out.

For example, if you’re attempting to intuitively discern how a person is feeling, the ego-mind will attempt to analyse external clues like facial expression and the tone of a person’s conversation. These often give useful clues, but they can also be highly misleading, as most people have learnt to “put on their best face” and hide their true feelings in order to peaceably get along in the world. If the ego-mind has already formed a firm judgment, for example “this person is smiling, therefore he must be happy”, then the ability to tune in and feel the other person’s energy is lost, or severely hampered.

But a person with finally tuned intuitive skills is able to see through this by simply picking up on the other person’s energy and directly feeling what they are feeling. By staying neutral and free from the ego’s judgments, the seasoned intuitive can tune in to anything – be it a business proposal, a potential relationship, a self-development course or whatever. The intuitive can then feel its energy and determine whether it resonates with them. This gives us a far more profound understanding than can ever be obtained by the ego-mind’s attempts to rationally muddle through all the details.

2. It helps to raise your vibration

Judgments are dense energy – they are low vibrational. This means it’s much harder to ascend to higher levels of consciousness when your mind is accustomed to constant judging of other people or circumstances. The judgmental ego-mind is always comparing others against some indeterminate, arbitrary standard and deciding whether or not the person measures up. To the non-judgmental person, all souls are satisfactory – including one’s own soul. The unkind or irrational behaviours of others do not perturb the soul who has transcended judgment, for he sees the beauty of the eternal formless behind the unkindness, and the machinations of another soul’s ego have no power to disrupt his peace as long as no judgment is made of them.

So many of us have heads full of judgment as we face the world. We’ve been indulging the peanut gallery between our ears for so long that it feels it needs to offer an opinion on everyone it meets. Thus we get subjected to a constant stream of comments like “Wow, he looks unfortunate”, “Gee, she really needs to go on a diet”, “That guy looks like he’s got a high opinion of himself”, “Boy, no idea what she was thinking with that outfit”, “That guy’s obviously rich, I bet he’s less honest than I am”, and so on.

But the soul that has transcended judgment can look anyone straight in the eyes and see nothing but another perfect, beautiful soul arising from the same eternal source as himself. The soul that has mastered this practice of non-judgment has raised their consciousness into the realm of 500+ on the Hawkins scale of consciousness, or “love and above”. Here there is no room for judgment of others, but only love for one’s self and all mankind.

Raising your vibration is the most tangible gauge of spiritual progress. So when we talk about raising your vibration, we’re really talking about the most important work we can do for ourselves on this planet.

3. It makes you less reactive

The ego-mind is forever seeking the path of comfort and least resistance, and so whenever circumstances arise to spoil this pipe-dream of comfort and ease, the ego judges them as unsatisfactory, and suffering arises as the result of this judgment.

A soul whose ego reigns supreme will see every inconvenience as an attack on its own comfort and react accordingly. Whether it’s missing the train, being held up in traffic – even for a few brief moments, machines that don’t work or having to queue to use an ATM, the reactive, judging mind sees it all as intolerable. Souls who repeatedly indulge this sense that all inconvenience is unacceptable usually end up developing a sense of persecution or even accursedness – which, of course, brings with it more inconvenience and bad luck.

By learning to avoid judgments of other people, we eventually learn to avoid judging circumstances as well. While the ego-mind resents a few extra moments of boredom waiting in traffic, the soul without judgment realises that this is an inevitable part of the human experience, and that it only becomes burdensome when the mind labels it as such. The unjudging soul trusts that he will arrive at his destination on time regardless of any disruptions – or if he does not, it does not matter. The people he is meeting will forgive him – and if they do not, it does not matter. The shop he is heading to will still be open – if it is not, it does not matter. All is well regardless of what external circumstances might appear to indicate.

By ceasing to judge external circumstances, we cease to react to them. By ceasing to react to them, they cease to have any control over us. The man who does not judge always gets what he wants, because he always wants what he gets. Not only is this shift in perspective massively profound in its own right, but a nonreactive soul also tends to attract more favourable circumstances due to its optimistic, nonplussed mindset.

The exercise

I’ll first share with you the original exercise, which is taken from Stuart Wilde’s book on intuition, then my own 21st century twist on it.

Stuart recommends finding a public place with a steady stream of pedestrian traffic through it – so perhaps a busy city street, a park, or a shopping centre. While being as subtle as you can, observe the faces of the people that come towards you. As you do this, your task is simply to take a good look at the faces of the people that pass, and have no opinion on them. As soon as you hear your mind begin to offer an opinion, you simply silence it. If you choose, you can thank your ego for its opinion but advise it that it is not required – or you can simply ignore it. Be careful not to become angry with yourself if a judgment pops into your head – simply remain calm, clear your mind of the thought and wait for the next person. Judging yourself for having a judgment is, of course, simply another form of judgment – and a sneaky way that the ego tries to creep back into your mind through the back door. The ego has no place in this exercise.

You can smile at the people coming by if you care to, but remember that the purpose of the exercise is to avoid all judgment – so even positive or neutral judgments should be avoided. Judging that a person is very old, for example, is not really a negative judgment per se, but it’s still the result of the ego feeling the need to “size up” everyone it comes across. Positive judgments need to be avoided also – judging that someone is beautiful is equally hampering to the exercise as judging that they are ugly.

Don’t be tempted to think that this exercise is too simple to be effective. All you’re really doing is establishing the habit of not reacting when you see a face. With a bit of practise this will spill over from the exercise into your daily life and become second nature. The only ways you can really go wrong with this exercise are to fail to pay proper attention to each person’s face, or to overthink matters. You do want to get a good, thorough look at the person (while maintaining subtlety of course – don’t go cutting eyeholes in a newspaper or anything), and flitting carelessly between one face and another will not establish the habit as strongly as if you pay full attention to each face. On the other hand, don’t be tempted to wonder if you’re doing it correctly or if there’s some special knack you haven’t quite grasped yet. We’re simply paying full attention to each person’s face and then not reacting to it – that’s it. If you’re doing that, you’re doing the exercise correctly. It will take some time and patience to become good at it, but you’re on the right track.

The 21st century update

Stuart Wilde recommends performing the above exercise for 20 – 30 minutes whenever convenient to do so. However, many of us would find it difficult to dedicate that kind of time to such a seemingly airy activity. My preferred variation is simply to dedicate 5 – 10 minutes a day looking through a stream of headshots on the internet. This can be done with any stream of photos, but it works best if there is a good cross-section of both genders, different races, different ages and different levels of physical attractiveness. As a man, I would not pick a stream full of exclusively attractive women, for example. Nor should you pick a stream where you’re likely to see any sort of scanty clothing – as that’s not the purpose of the exercise and it will only distract you.

A photorealistic image of a man
This person truly does not exist. I know, right?

I personally recommend This Person Does not Exist – it’s a stream of photorealistic computer-generated faces with a good cross section. And yes, they really are computer generated – although if I hadn’t told you, most of them could pass for real photos. The site’s actual purpose is simply to show off the technology – it’s not designed with this exercise in mind, but it works extremely well regardless. You have to be prepared to deal with some grotesque image errors, but by and large the results are amazing.

Dedicate just five minutes a day to flicking through the images and not reacting to them, and within a couple of weeks you’ll be amazed how the habit carries over into the real world. Just be careful not to do your practise in public, unless you want people to think you’re on a really weird version of Tinder.