Most of us, at various moments and at different times of our life, are faced with problems or situations that we don’t like and want to change. Or that we don’t understand, and want to know more about. Or we’re just plain curious! In all of these circumstances, enquiry can work wonders.
One of the first principles of enquiry is the recognition that it isn’t actually necessary to struggle to change things. In fact, it can even be counterproductive.
Change happens, whether we like it or not. What is needed is the capacity to stay with whatever is there, because when you explore and observe your experience, it unfolds. Life is a flow of experience. And if the same thing seems to keep happening, over and over again, it’s because our perspective is caught in an unchanging pattern. By taking a broader perspective, the flow becomes more apparent. It’s like watching a stream. If you see boulders in the stream only as obstructions, you may not notice the intricate swirls and eddies of the water, the fascinating changes of light and colours, shifting sand and pebbles, plant life and underwater creatures, or even glorious visiting kingfishers and magnificent leaping salmon. Even boulders look different when you see them from a different viewpoint!
If it’s not one thing…
It’s a mother, as a comedian once ruefully ad-libbed – after a long period of therapy, I suspect. It’s true, when you study psychology for any length of time, you start to think that everything (especially the bad bits!) that has ever happened to you is your mother’s fault. What’s important to realize is that in fact, most of us tend to view the whole world as our mother. We expect the outside world to give us what we want. And we get annoyed, frustrated, and outraged when this doesn’t happen. Which is strange, when you think about it, because we’re part and parcel of the world ourselves. It’s like blaming your thumb for hurting, when you hit it with a hammer.
Especially in our day and age, when so much more is explained and developed with the help of continually expanding scientific knowledge about the human mind and body, the process of enquiry is greatly supported by information about the workings of the mind and our physical and emotional states. Personally, I find the study of the human psyche both vastly interesting and extremely useful, however it’s not a prerequisite for the practice of enquiry. Obviously, it is possible to come to very deep understanding of ourselves without training in psychology or neurology or biology or all the other –ologies that have evolved in (relatively) recent time. Enquiry works because it is based on our own experience, in the moment. You start with a question, a problem, a situation, or simply openness to what is there in the moment. By focusing on your inner experience, you can get a felt sense of it. Staying with this felt sense, getting closer to it, reveals more about it. And ultimately, allows it to transform, to unfurl, to flow.
There’s much more to find out through enquiry. Visit The Enquiring Spirit. www.chayes.nl