Every time I’ve asked someone if they are open-minded they inevitably say “yes.” This response tells me this quality is a desirable one; nobody wants to admit being close-minded. I don’t; and yet I’m willing to admit that even with this obvious recognition of appeal, I still hesitate to change my point of view; in other words, I’m know probably going to defend what I believe. I feel this observation can be quite useful. When I’ve asked someone this before new, potentially conflicting information is offered, it gently persuades by lowering the defense system of the receiver. In essence it really does open the mind.
When taken one step further, I must ask if “I” am open-minded, even if the person talking to me has no intention of asking it. This requires practice and discipline. When done properly I do my best to let go all thoughts of rebuttal. To be honest if all I do is listen, I’m fine; not easy for a guy like me. I’m an intensely emotional, idea-oriented person. When others speak it triggers a response mode in me, a fault I freely admit needs a lot of work. Some label me as opinionated because of how I react, but that seems somewhat off definition. One of my root belief systems is “I always get everything I want; all I have to do is change my mind.” Yes, I’ll stand my ground and will attempt to justify what I think works best in the moment, and I’ll suggest alternative choices; but even though I do these things, I’m still always searching for a better method.
During one of our many discussions my friend, Joe, handed me the most challenging, or perhaps “disturbing” philosophy I had heard up to that point.
He had been trying to get me to understand and embrace what he was saying when he changed tactics. “Do you think you’re open-minded?”
As he expected, this diminished my attitude of stubbornness. “Uh……yea, I guess I am.” I hesitated while Joe kept staring at me. “Okay, what’s your definition of open-minded?”
He continued to look straight at me. “IF………if you really do want to become an open-minded person, the only thing you MUST believe in is that you might be wrong about everything.”
I didn’t say anything as I felt the blood draining from my face.
On the surface the idea doesn’t really seem to inspire, does it? What if I’m wrong about everything? What if this entire blog is completely off-base? What if I have to start over? What if my entire life has been a mistake? The good news is these type of questions don’t have to be asked. The apparent overwhelming implications need not be disabling. What needs to be in place is the willingness to simply ask similar ones without using the word “I” in a sentence, that’s all. What if someone else is right? What if someone else has a better blog? What if another person knows how to start over? What if another person has all the answers? This is the true power of humility. The exercise of removing the “I” from our lives is also the same willingness that embraces a higher power. I think this revelation has massive implications to those who seek a personal understanding of God.
An “open” mind seamlessly connects us to others and creates empathy. When this thought process is projected it will eventually find itself embracing the universe without judgement. On the other hand, a “closed” mind will have the opposite effect. This thought process will isolate us, invite prejudice, and will conclude with an implosion of selfishness. I’m sure you don’t need me to point out examples, there are plenty in everyone’s life that support this line of reasoning.
I suppose the best way to live is with our arms, our eyes, our ears, and our minds wide open. Is not life about discovery? Who really wants every day to be the same? Why not explore the minds and lives of others? Why hoard old ideas and patterns? Why not clean out the rubbish that no longer serves to elevate us? Throw open the doors and windows of your mind and let the breeze of change refresh all that has become old and stale. It’s just more evidence that cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.
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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood