Opinions are like onions – know when they need to be sealed and when peeled
When we have an opinion about something, we may hold on to that opinion irrationally, even if it exasperates those around us. We can understand others’ emotions if we turn the situation around, if that person were holding on to an opinion that we felt was irrational.
To be reasonable, we need to understand how we form our opinions; it’s rarely based on reason alone, and even more rarely based on the reason we articulate as the basis for our opinion. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we are speaking falsely; it often means that our minds are complex and multilayered, and we ourselves aren’t aware of the layer from which a particular opinion is emerging.
In their multi-layered nature, opinions are like onions. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna helps Arjuna peel the onion of his opinions about what to do on the battlefield. Arjuna initially wanted to fight and then didn’t want to fight and then he ended up confused (02.06). Krishna peeled the various layers that obscured Arjuna’s self-understanding, which in turn shaped his understanding of his duty. Only when that peeling had gone to the core, helping Arjuna understand that he was a soul, who was a part of the Whole, did Arjuna’s opinion become stabilized.
Just as opinions need to be sometimes peeled, they need to be sometimes sealed. Otherwise, the multilayered nature of opinions also means that we may keep second-guessing ourselves endlessly. Even after we arrive at a reasonably sensible decision, our mind, from some of its layers, may come up with some counter-opinion that may well be unreasonable and improbable.
When onions are to be transported, they need to be sealed. Similarly, when we need to act wholeheartedly, we need to seal our opinions, as Arjuna did after becoming convinced by the Gita’s message (18.73).
Think it over:
- How are our opinions like onions?
- When do opinions need to be peeled?
- When do opinions need to be sealed?
02.06 Nor do we know which is better – conquering them or being conquered by them. If we killed the sons of Dhritarashtra, we should not care to live. Yet they are now standing before us on the battlefield.
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