What happens when you enquire? What happens when you explore the thoughts and emotions that arise, relive memories and examine your experience in the moment? What’s it all about? What is it for?
Well, at some stage it becomes a pleasure in itself, because it’s a natural way of making sense of experience and allowing your capacity and understanding to expand. The truth of the matter is that thinking patterns are often unclear and repetitive. And when you look closely, it’s possible to see that emotions can feel painful or overwhelming because of old ideas and experiences, rather than because of what is actually there, in the present. Perspectives are clouded. There’s a lot of old material obscuring the reality of the moment: preferences and inhibitions, borrowed habits and false expectations. Or quite simply, lack of knowledge. Enquiry helps clear away the obscuration.
Enquiry can reveal a totally different experience of the natural energies that underlie anger and rage, fear and anxiety, stress and depression, hatred and rejection. Because without the distortions that our accumulated ideas and previous experience give rise to, those feelings can transform. Energy in itself is not negative; it’s the thoughts that surround them that make them difficult. The good news is, our instinctual human drives for safety, comfort, and companionship have evolved – and can continue to evolve! It seems to be our nature to evolve, probably in more ways than we can even imagine. With the willingness to explore, and love for the truth, enquiry reveals truer ways we can express our love of life. Naturally.
Ordinarily, many people learn that it is good to repress difficult emotions such as anger and sorrow, and we end up trying to force ourselves to feel – and think – differently to the way we really do. And what happens when we repress emotions and thoughts is that they go underground; they’re no longer uppermost in our experience. But they haven’t gone. And they continue to drive our reactions. When those ideas are seen for what they are – simply ideas or memories – there is a possibility of letting them go. Using enquiry to let your energy be there, fully, without acting out the emotional surface, gives you access to a fuller experience. Purified experience, freed from clutter and misunderstandings.
The joy of enquiry
A different experience may underlie various emotions at different times, and the fascination of enquiry for each person lies in discovering for themselves what is there. You may discover the gentleness of real strength, or the flexibility of true will. You could find gentleness and kindness hidden under layers of frustration and feelings of weakness. Who knows? That’s the joy of enquiry.