For the past three years, I have been sitting with the idea that it is the questions that are important, not the answers.
Today I realized I have been waiting for an answer about joy and sorrow. I had the question in my heart, is my involvment with the Quaker community my answer to the sorrows that life brings us? Is it THE answer, i.e., just about the only thing that will help balance the sadness of losing loved ones to sickness and tragedy and working in a job market that seems to separate us from our humanity?
What then is my question?
And also, is this a signal that my focus is shifting back towards answers rather than questions?
Then I realize with a laugh that, in the process of exploring this, I have just asked four very important questions.
It is not enough for me to simply place more trust in questions than answers. I think that I must also ASK the RIGHT QUESTIONS.
So then I am exploring whether trying to ask the rights questions just brings me back to an ‘answers’ mindset. How could this be the case? Well, it all depends upon my intentions when I am selecting the ‘right’ questions. If I am trying, in a well meaning way, to ask questions that maybe more likely to achieve a specific desired outcome, then do I understand what that outcome is?
And if that is the case, how shall I value that outcome against other outcomes? If the outcome seems to solve a problem in an area of my life where I have decided I have a lack, then that is one way of prioritizing the outcome.
Do I truly understand which aspect of my life needs work most? When I look at the various parts of my life which I usually feel need work, again the question comes up, how can I fairly and with my highest good in mind choose one area over another? In priorizing and ranking them, do I risk solidifying my thinking too much about something which is constantly changing?
When I sit in silence among my Quaker friends, I often have lots of prayers ready in the front of my mind. They are kind of like a wish list for Santa, although a bit less materialistic. Still, I am noisily (in my mind) asking for specific, tangible, measurable objectives – ha ha! The business mindset creeping into spirituality! If your intention is to sit in expectant silence, is it not just as materialistic to pray for a full time job in a certain field with a certain salary as it is to pray for an Xbox 360?
If this is happening during prayers, and when deciding upon the best questions to ask oneself, then what space does this leave for divine intention to be understood and/or made real in my life?
How can one human being possibly come up with something they want to pray for which serves their higher good better than that which God can come up with? Even if you don’t believe in a god which knows what you need at any given moment, perhaps in your life you’ve sensed some sort of subtle guidance from time to time in the form of seeming coincidences, and you felt that those coincidences had some kind of greater meaning (or, as I felt as an agnostic a few years ago, there were random happenings from which I chose to take meaning for my life, thus leading to some of the same blessings).
2 thoughts on “Shall we expect questions to lead to answers?”
You pose such interesting questions. In meditating we should be clearing and quieting our minds and this sometimes seems an impossible goal. Thoughts and “requests” for things or ideal situations creep in. Are we hard wired to do this? Is this something that we’ll always have to struggle with? Does the “guilt” we feel about doing this hold us back? I was recently advised to pose daily affirmations and goals as questions to counteract the tendencies of out unruly mind. I’ll try this – should be an interesting experiment
Thanks, Sharon. I’d love to hear how it goes for you when you try that in your practice. I want to try a daily meditation where I ask something really vague, like, what do I need for my highest good?