10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Monday, February 4, 2013
To Question or Not To Question?
At one point, I joked that I didn’t even know what the question was. Someone else piped up with this statement: “Whatever happens is the answer.” The person thought that was a quote from somewhere, but I can’t find it. At any rate, I’ve been mulling it over. Sometimes the statement just seems like nonsense, but other times it seems quite profound!
Toni Packer writes about being open with curiosity to whatever is going on. No judgment, just honest observing. Hmm, look at that. What does this feel like? See my reaction. Tara Brach writes about radical acceptance in much the same way – “A moment of radical acceptance is a moment of genuine freedom.”
In Shambhala training, we worked with the slogan, “Everything is workable.” This means that we bring everything into our practice. Everything and everyone become my teachers.
One of my tai chi instructors brings his dog to the early morning class. There are just a few of us in the room. The dog is big and friendly and mostly lies on her rug. But every now and then she wants to join in. She will walk slowly over to one of us and position herself right between that person’s feet. As the person shifts to the next posture, she will shift, too, staying right underneath. When I am her chosen partner, I have learned to adjust my stepping and my postures to include her in the form. It’s workable. Rather than interfering with my practice, the dog becomes my teacher.
At a certain level in quantum physics, scientists learned that the question will determine the answer in the experiment. Is this energy or mass? An experiment set up to measure energy will find energy to measure. Set up the experiment to measure mass, and mass magically appears, ready to be measured. So which is it? It is whatever the question seeks to find.
So what happens if we don’t question? Ha, that’s a question, too!
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
~Tao Te Ching
related posts: The Best Exotic Present Moment; Close Encounters of the Brain Kind
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interesting post, galen. we are so conditioned to 'name' things, experiences, ideas -- as if they don't exist unless we can label them. however labels immediately limit. by not knowing what your question is you open your mind to a greater Truth. well done ;-)ReplyDelete
Linda, It's a conundrum, isn't it?! We need words and labels to communicate and function in this world, but they come with a price. Thanks for your comment.Delete
You certainly put my brain to work with this one! Love the concept that "everything is workable" if we can detach from our expectations.ReplyDelete
Martha, This put my brain to work, too--ha! My brain gets all tied up over this until I remember the dog in tai chi class. That makes sense to me. But when I start to try to analyze it, it all falls apart! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Great article Galen. As a student of physics ( it was once my job ) and Zen for many years I find this type of thought fascinating. Have you seen the movie The Quantum Activist? I don't know that I buy all of the theories as truth but it does lead to interesting ideas.ReplyDelete
Dan @ Zen Presence
Dan, I am no expert like you, but I became intrigued with this kind of thought way back when The Dancing Wu Li Masters and The Tao of Physics first came out. I don't know that movie, but I will see if I can get it on Netflix. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Galen, this post has me thinking! It's hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea of never questioning. I can see how our expectations affect things, but can we truly let go of all expectations? Should we? I don't know. I definitely need to ponder how my expectations change things around me.ReplyDelete
I like "everything is workable" and your wonderful example of working with the dog in class. That's certainly a way of working with the circumstances that appear in front of you.
Tina, It has me thinking, too! You can understand my puzzlement. Fortunately, the dog made it all make sense to me. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Everything is subjective, even science. Is it possible that when we ask for something in prayer we receive the answer that would have been there anyway had we not asked and received? I know that when I make a conscious effort to be thankful for specific things in my life, I seem to have more to be thankful for. Is God giving me more blessings at those times, or am I just suddenly receiving them?ReplyDelete
Kim, As Anais Nin said, we don't see things as they are; we see them as we are. So maybe the same for prayer. When we are thankful for our blessings, we seem to have more of them. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Interesting question that you have posed for us in this post LOL!ReplyDelete
I am inclined to think that asking the question (and therefore knowing what is ) is important. When we ask God or the Universe, our question or prayers get answered. When we are not clear in our question, we get mixed results that do not strike us as meaningful.
I am guessing that mostly, we are not in the habit of tracking answers to our questions or that we are not asking deeply from our soul. So it would seem as if we are accepting what comes along.
Evelyn, That is an interesting take on the precision of the question dictating a clear or murky answer. I had not thought of that. When I get myself muddled in an issue, though, it seems that I do best when I back up and quit trying to think of it in the same way. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Sometimes, there are no answers to our questions. I call those particular episodes the 'mysteries of God' :)ReplyDelete
Mary, As the Bible says, God's ways are not our ways, and we should not lean on our own understanding. So I'm with you. Best to trust that everything is exactly the way it should be, and let go of the confusion. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Oh my I also am asking my own questions- in search of an answer! I do have an interesting children's book about 3 important questions! I'll see if something more comes to mind!ReplyDelete
Karen, What are the three important questions?! (That's another question, of course--ha.) Thanks for commenting.Delete
I completely agree, open mindedness, for me anyway,has been the answer. I abhor labels, probably because of all the labels that were put on myself and my youngest son. yes description is necessary to communicate, at the same time, labels themselves become such a generalization that it is no longer an accurate statement. Love this post. My being open allowed the returnof my spiritual life. Gratitude.ReplyDelete
jan, Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. As the mom of several kids with special needs, I know a lot about labels. Sounds like you do, too. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Your post reminded me of my dog we had years back who used to do things we did too. :)
If we are eating our meals watching TV, he too would want to eat right there. Or if we are sitting out, he would want to sit with us. The best was when we pray together, he too wants to be in the prayer room and will sit very still with closed eyes, as if he is meditating, and wait for the prayers to end before leaving the room. Who says things aren't workable, especially where pets are concerned. :)
Thanks for sharing. :)
Harleena, I love the story of your dog. So sweet! Thanks for your comment.Delete
The thought of not questioning is both appealing and repulsive to me at the same time. To not question anything is to accept everything - abusive behavior, neglect, confusion, and chaos.ReplyDelete
But ahh....to not question anything - this would be a blissful place if and only if everyone around me was in the same state of mind. Off to find the nearest monastery.
Suzanne, I know what you mean. I always thought questioning, especially questioning authority and assumptions, was a good thing. And I think it is. I'm learning, though, that sometimes questions will direct my attention to a specific end rather than letting my awareness rest in openness. Thanks for your comment.Delete
Deep post..Still reflecting over it so I might return! Radical acceptance...I like the sound of that. I think with life comes its ups and downs..that everything is natural, both the good and the bad..they are different sides of the same coin. If we find something unpleasant we need only to endure it until it passes away.ReplyDelete
Jessica, You would probably really like Tara Brach's book by that title--Radical Acceptance. It's easy to read and full of wisdom. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Another enlightening post and I am going to reflect upon some of the thoughts. I think we may find the answers to our questions in being present in our everyday life. We may miss the answers because of our busyness. Just a thought and need to ponder more on your message.ReplyDelete
Blessings to you!
LeAnn, I need to ponder more on it, too! I'm sure I miss many answers because I'm distracted in that anywhere-but-here kind of way. Thanks for your comment and blessings to you, too.Delete
"What happens is your answer" is from Robert Ohotto. I posted it in one of my articles a couple weeks back.ReplyDelete
The idea is that if you ask the universe for a sign, an answer, a direction, then make sure you listen! Sometimes there is no answer...so that's a "no." Sometimes you get a sign pointing you in the right direction. It's subtle. But in the end - whether it happens or not - what happens is your answer :)
Julie, Thank you! I googled that quote and could not find the source. Can you give me the link back to your article? I must have missed that one and I'd like to read it. And thanks for the further explanation of the quote. You are my mystery solver today!Delete
Sure thing,here it is:Delete
Julie, Oh yes, I remember this post, but somehow I missed the quote. I'm coming over to read it again right now! Thanks for the link.Delete
I will just tell you I was here and I heard and thought about you words and appreciated themReplyDelete
Patricia, Always happy for you to stop by. Thanks.Delete
Great bone to chew on! Thanks! I've been using the statement " Wow, Can it get any better than this?" as my question of sorts - this sure is keeping the flow going and allows the universe to GIVE YOU MORE. Best question I've ever asked!
SuZen, Great way to use a question to express gratitude and call more blessings into your life. Love it. Thanks for your comment.Delete
I'm struck here by the notion of absolute surrender to any given moment's experience. Talk about allowing life to happen! I love the answer you received to your forgotten question, "Whatever happens is the answer."
I keep a moldable Gumby on my desk to remind me to stay flexible to my circumstances. Continual adjustment doesn't necessarily mean constant motion; it may simply mean staying fluid to the flow of life's stream.
Love the depth and I'll be checking into Tara's book.
Best to you,
Beth, Gumby--that's great! Bruce Lee talked about being water. I like that image. Fluid, yielding, but nothing is more powerful. Thanks for commenting.Delete
Good way to think about everyone and everything being out teachers Galen. That's a good way to approach life - then everything becomes a lesson.ReplyDelete
And I've come to be a lot more accepting of life and its happenings. Before I use to fight, resist and even try to control but realized it's all out of my hands. I still do things intentionally but don't worry about the results too much. Or at all. I can do my part but not the universe's part too:)
Vishnu, Your recent post about six lessons is a wonderful example of treating everything as a lesson. I love that post! Thanks for commenting.Delete
Lots of food for thought here, Galen.ReplyDelete
One of Anthony D'Mello's little pieces from 'One Minute Wisdom' talking about the effortlessness of the spiritual journey says: "How much effort and renunciation does it take to open one's eyes and see."
I think in letting go of our questions we allow our mind to be more open to possibilities -i.e. answers. The beauty of life is that the answers are there all the time.
Corinne, Thank you for sharing this wisdom, both the "One Minute Wisdom" and your own! I appreciate your comment.Delete
I love the dog in the tai chi class! I've never heard of that happening before.ReplyDelete
I do alot of this with a meditation where I just feel what is going on in my body and allow it to be there, and any thoughts or judgements that come up I say "thankyou" to them and refocus back on my body. It makes me much more able to handle things as they come up in everyday life.
Ben, That is a great meditation practice. I'm going to use it! And yes, the dog in tai chi is unique, I think. Thanks for commenting.Delete
I had to share this about questions and answers:
"Everything is going to be alright at the end and if it's not alright, it's not the end."
I loved this line in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Great movie!Delete
Oh and more more amazing quote that pretains to all this:ReplyDelete
Rainer Maria Rilke:
"I beg you…to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.
Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."