Monday, July 02, 2007

Authentic Inquiry

Bath Tub Truth
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

I’m not going to quote the whole thing here. If you want the full length, unedited version, click HERE.

Authentic inquiry is allowing yourself to care… Everyone knows what it’s like to inquire out of intellectual interest—asking for the sake of asking or because you think you should. This is not caring. When you care about something, it gets inside of you. It gets inside the shell that keeps you from being affected or bothered, the shell that keeps anything really new from happening.

So in the beginning, to deeply inquire about anything, you have to care about it. You have to care enough to allow it to get inside that shell. What do you really care about? What pulls you into here and now, this minute? What is the most important thing to you? … The question needs to be personal, not about a spiritual teaching or something that’s outside of your experience. It needs to be something that’s coming from the inside.

When you care, you care from the inside. Many people impose ideas from the outside upon themselves, but this isn’t inquiry. When you really care, you enter a love affair with what you care about. Sometimes it draws you into bliss, sometimes into confusion. You don’t know what to do. You don’t know where you are going. You feel a bit out of control. You’re letting this caring get under your skin. To find out that you care like this is the most important thing; otherwise you can spend your whole life caring about what someone else says you should care about.

… you may be afraid to find out how much you care because that caring could just steal you away. What is the one thing that will matter the most at the end of your life? Without it, you would say: “That’s what it was all about and I missed it.” If you had the best job, lots of money, the perfect lover, or whatever your ideal is, and suddenly your life was over, what would still be left undone? That’s what it’s all about.

When you find that kind of caring, inquiry has some power behind it. You also find your own inner integrity. You find something inside that’s stable. There’s a place inside you that is willing to be a little crazy—crazy enough to take inquiry seriously and hold nothing sacred. Holding nothing sacred means that nothing is assumed to be true and all of your assumptions are fair game. The more spiritual they are, the more they are fair game. Ultimately it is your most sacred and unquestioned assumptions about yourself, others, and life that are most important to question.

…[and] eventually the inquiry wears itself out. You wear yourself out. You wear your ego self out. You wear your spiritual self out. You wear it all out. You’ve inquired yourself out of this whole thing, and you’re disappearing faster than you can put yourself together.

… [and] You find a living experience of being, empty of content, empty of you. This is where spiritual awakening begins. This is the living answer of authentic inquiry.


Just after I edited these wods, I received an email. One of my oldest friends, one who was there before and after those shattering days of the 1970's - one who never gave up on her path- was finally "resting peacefully and slipping quietly away" after long, long resistance to her cancer.

What will matter most at the end of my life? At the end of your life? And how well are we caring for That Which Matters Most right now, today?

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