Steps to Knowledge has gone to great lengths to discourage the practice of judgment, and encourage the practice of observation in its place. Judgment is a practice of not knowing. Judgment is a practice of not looking. Judgment is a practice of not listening. Judgment is a practice of not being still. Judgment is a practice with certain social rewards. Judgment is a practice I must slowly back away from if I want to attain to what Steps to Knowledge is offering. I must strengthen the practices of knowing, looking, listening and being still.
Don’t believe everything you think
In Step 90, “Today I will make no assumptions,” this conversation is taken a step further. If I make a judgment, I am declaring “This thing is good,” or “That person is bad,” regardless of what further observation might yield about the person or thing I am judging. If I make an assumption, I am declaring “This is true,” or “That isn’t true.” I therefore consider assumption to be a detrimental practice of mental sloth, just as I consider judgment to be a detrimental practice of moral sloth.
The word “assumption” appears 14 times in 8 different steps, before appearing in Step 90. The context in which the word “assumption” consistently appears is that assumptions are not founded upon experience, and are therefore weak. Assumptions are inadequate in the face of life’s opportunities and challenges. Assumption is the use of language and imagination to create a self and a world not founded on experience, and therefore apart from life.
It may take a while to unwind the multiple layers of assumptions, redactions of experience and denials of experience which pass for reality. But at the very least, I can stop adding layers to this house of cards. I can cultivate a certain degree of skepticism regarding my assumptions. I can take the page from the Buddhist playbook “Don’t believe everything you think.” I can keep observing, keep coming back to my experience. Will I? Let’s just say I’ll make a determined effort.
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