The year was 2014. I was in a well lit conference room full of Russian and Norwegian students attending a Young Enterpreneurs session at a Moscow hotel.
Early in the morning, it was my turn to [awkwardly] break the ice and tell the group of strangers something that makes me different.
I stood up and having recently read the novel 1984 I decided to make a reference to the term ‘doublethink’; having explained what the original meaning of doublethink was (forced equalisation of two contradictory statements), I stated that I’d like to redefine it, and apply to myself.
My definition of doublethink was keeping contrary opinions as equal parts of one but not necessarily correct on their own. Even though opinions like ‘X is bad’ and ‘X is good’ are polar, I don’t necessarily want to accept either of them – I may choose to keep the two in order to draw a better picture of X.
Over the years, the X has fluctuated between various political stances, professional choices and personal issues. One of the most significant factors that influenced my belief in doublethink 2.0 was growing up through a changing environment, with a very significant pivot point in early 2019.
I grew up in Russia in a small town and in a family of modest wealth, which gave me a certain appreciation of simple life. I was lucky enough to end up in Silicon Valley at the age of 20, where I learned to see the world through a prism of big things and big ideas.
By 2019, I’d gone through a bit a roller coaster with my career and became a UK resident. That was my second take at coming-of-age, as I became obsessed with assessing my past and thinking about future. By that time, I’d been longing for my 10-day Vipassana course, which I’d booked a few months before in hopes to relax and unplug from daily routine.
Relaxation turned out an unmet expectation – but I did unplug. The ten days were very difficult to handle mentally, in part due to a requirement to remain silent, in part due to the dogmatic teaching. The latter, however, helped me embrace doublethink 2.0.
It was revolving around the idea that problems arise when we express craving or hatred towards something, or somebody: because we often attach different labels to things that classify them as good or bad. Accepting things are they are brings peace. That’s what the teaching was about.
This realisation was perhaps the most valuable thing I took out from the meditation course.
Being open to different opinions and accepting them, not as true, but as part of true helps me view things under a new angle.
“It’s not good. It’s not bad. It just is”.