Some subjects seem to provoke us to express an opinion: politics is one example. (There is a saying that describes this human fascination: “Two people, three political parties.”) The education of children is another such theme.  If a general conversation turns toward the best way to school the young (more discipline? less? directed study? free choice exploration?) everyone will want to put forward their idea, whether they be grandparents, parents, or perhaps have no children at all.  Observe such a group closely, including watching your own reactions to the ebb and flow, and you may see that in many cases the opinions are rising to the surface not because of an urgently held belief but simply because others are making a declaration.  Each point of view may have some reason behind it, but the expression of it is a sort of reflex action.  We can see something similar amongst our canine friends: if one dog barks, any other dog in the vicinity feels a compulsion to bark as well.

With this in mind, it can be an interesting experiment upon oneself in such a discussion to restrain one’s opinions–not to repress them or to censure them, but just to listen and keep some silence.  The experiment may show some surprising results.  We may discover, for example, that the first opinion that came rushing up from inside of us was only a reaction to what someone else said; on reflection, we may see the matter from quite a different side.  As a general rule, when we speak we tend to deafen ourselves to what others are saying, which is not always helpful; by keeping still for a moment, we may hear something–or remember something–that enlarges our horizon.

Keeping momentarily silent also allows us to assess with more care the relationship between others and their own opinions.   There are some who speak without thinking, repeating something they have been told, and there are others who speak from experience, or from thoughtful reasoning.  With that awareness, our own urge to speak up may be moderated.

And we may also find that by keeping some silence, and listening to the others, whatever we do say will have more meaning, both for ourselves and for the rest.  Hazrat Inayat Khan often spoke of the power we may accumulate by closing our lips.  And if we draw inward enough force, we may discover speech is not necessary at all–although our silence may not always be understood.  In the Nirtan, Hazrat Inayat says,
People often ask me questions which I cannot very well answer in words,
and it makes me sad to think they are unable to hear the voice of my silence.

One Reply to “Opinions”

  1. Juan Amin Betancur

    Thank you dear murshid Nawab, this is a very clear way of pointing out what inner condition and attitude we should take. One should think that if an Illuminated Soul as Pir-o-Murshid Inayat was not able sometimes to find words to answer some question, we all should be more careful when trying to give an opinion on some difficult subject. Maybe it is related with the Divine Truth, quite clear in his beautiful heart but far more beyond the capacity of expression of the heavenly mysteries in words, and this leads us to the connection of the heart with the divinity, a blessed condition to which some how, some day we all will arrive.


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