Whoa —- I’ve heard of snakes in the grass, bats in the belfry, bees in the bonnet — but William Blake, prophetic 18th-century English poet, artist, and mystic, has added a new, and thought-provoking, creature to the catalog:
The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
Which, when you think about it, appears both chilling — and true. Why do I so often stubbornly refuse to even consider changing my mind? Many reasons: inconsistency is frowned upon, changing directions is disapproved of, murmurs of disloyalty, of fickleness, of foolishness, oh! lots of reasons. And yet —
Here is how a Jesuit priest/Zen master friend expressed a very similar thought: There is no need to seek enlightenment. Only give up cherishing opinions.
But he didn’t bring snakes into it. Blake makes me consider the matter, and shudder. If he’s right, what kind of creatures may be harboring in my mind? Maybe it’s time to let some fresh breezes of new ideas riffle any stagnant water, renew my spirit, and — maybe even kill off some lurking reptiles.