Suspicion (mental element 24, Ss)
The element of suspicion does not diagnose and lacks the will to find an answer. It is uncertain about everything. It does not trust, believe, or accept anything. It lacks the will to think things through, so it does not give wise attention to matters of doubt but simply doubts “negatively.” It has the nature of skepticism, agnosticism, non-belief, and non-faith.
If superstitiousness is wrong viewing, we could say that suspicion is “non-viewing.” Superstitiousness results in the formation of a wrong theory about the nature of things. Suspicion, on the other hand, results in “no theory” altogether. It results in the lack of decisiveness and lack of definiteness. It makes us waver and vacillate, and causes us to change camps. Because suspicion cannot think through things, it makes the mind uncertain about what is good, bad, wholesome, unwholesome, virtuous, vice-ridden, and so on. It makes the mind wish not for an answer but to remain uncertain and doubtful about everything.
Doubt, as in intellectual curiosity, is necessary for intellectual development. Unless we doubt, how can we evaluate anything critically? But suspicion is not same as mere doubt. Suspicion is negative doubt rather mere doubt. In this sense, suspicion is always unwholesome. It literally paralyzes our thinking ability and therefore hinders intellectual development.
Since suspicion is negatively skeptical about everything, it is entirely different from doubting, which involves reasoning and critical analysis. Since suspicion is characterized by the lack of will to think things through, it doesn’t encourage reasoning or critical thinking like doubting can. We need to clearly understand the subtle differences between suspicion and doubt so that we can refrain from being suspicious and give the benefit of doubt to any person, situation, or issue that we are dealing with.
People who are superstitious tend to become suspicious. Superstitiousness makes us believe in something without giving it wise attention. So, whenever we are dealing with something that we do not believe in, we become suspicious. In other words, believing in something automatically makes us suspicious of things that we do not believe in.
If you have already developed strong spiritual or religious beliefs, then you may become suspicious about what I am saying in this book. You may not be able to develop confidence in the contents of this book no matter how persuasively I state my case. If you are suspicious, you may never develop enough trust in what I have discussed, no matter how compelling or realistic it may be. If, on the other hand, you give wise attention to this material and remain meditative in your consideration process, then you would not become suspicious. You might remain doubtful and critical, but not suspicious. You might not agree with something, but you would not automatically disagree either. Instead, you would investigate to try to understand and your suspicious nature would transform into investigative nature.
It is better for us to give the benefit of doubt to new ideas than to become suspicious. It is better to remain attentive, investigative, and meditative than to doubt negatively. Otherwise, superstitiousness and suspicion and can pull us down and fetter us to the lowest form of human existence, a life dominated by ignorance and blinded by delusion. As long as superstitiousness and suspicion are present, we cannot develop the special elements of thinking and thoughtfulness, which are raw material for meditative and contemplative practices.