“Don’t keep searching for the truth, just let go of your opinions.”

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This quote, “Don’t keep searching for the truth, just let go of your opinions,” is often attributed to the Buddha, sometimes to “unknown,” and occasionally (and perhaps more accurately) to Seng-Ts’an, aka Sengcan, who died in 606.

Or at least it’s in a work, Hsin-Hsin Ming, that’s attributed to him, although he may not have written it. The first lines of this work are very well known:

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.
Let go of longing and aversion, and it reveals itself.
Make the smallest distinction, however, and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.

The quote in question, or at least a variant of it, is found later on:

Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not hold to dualistic views, avoid such habits carefully.
If there is even a trace of right and wrong, the mind is lost in confusion.

The “Don’t keep searching for the truth, just let go of your opinions” version is found in Jack Kornfield’s “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.” Presumably it’s his paraphrase of Seng-Ts’an.

The Buddha in fact had a lot to say about letting go of (or not clinging to) opinions, although the term he used was ditthi, or view. In the Cula-Sihanada Sutta (the Shorter Discourse on the Lion’s Roar) he says:

…with the fading away of ignorance and the arising of true knowledge he no longer clings to sensual pleasures, no longer clings to views, no longer clings to rules and observances, no longer clings to a doctrine of self

In the Sallekha Sutta, he says:

Others will misapprehend according to their individual views, hold on to them tenaciously and not easily discard them; we shall not misapprehend according to individual views nor hold on to them tenaciously, but shall discard them with ease — thus effacement can be done.

Abandoning attachment to views is not something that’s done easily, or all at once. The Buddha repeatedly pointed out the need to renounce wrong (spiritually limiting) views and to embrace right (spiritually liberating) views. Only in this way can we reach non-view. In fact, one of the most famous similes in the Buddhist scriptures, found in the Alagaddupama Sutta, describes right view as being like a raft that helps us cross a river to get to the further shore—awakening. The raft is abandoned once its job is done, but without the raft of right view we have no way of making progress.

Living without views does not mean that one doesn’t have or express statements of fact. It’s simply indicating that the realized being does not need to speculate or have opinions about reality. She or he sees reality, and her or his statements are merely a description of what has been seen, engineered to help others see the same thing.

Thanks to Rob Myers for passing this one on.

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