Sunday, September 13, 2009
Questions that OPEN the Heart!
Questions that open the heart!
“We reach a point in our life when inexplicable events and feelings cry out for answers and yet the ‘answers’ lead to deeper questions until it strikes us that it is not the answers we need but an open heart to the wonder and mystery that is Oneness itself.”
I have fallen in love with a reality so subtle I can’t put it in words. In my work as both a hypnotherapist and my dedication to answering innumerable email questions worldwide over the past three years I have discovered that there is so much literature about oneness (advaita teachings) that many readers have become well-versed in that information, and as a result, have become blinded by that very information believing that they know and thus deprived themselves from an open heart closing it off from innocence, joy and genuine love.
I have often stated that Oneness is the answer to all questions and problems because, after all, it is the One Truth. Yet I have failed to state that I do not know Oneness despite my glimpse of it. This oneness has coaxed me on to various stages. It is the force behind the silent questions that compelled me to peel away the veils one by one to see where it was leading. It slowly persuaded me to drop my illusions, showing me something greater than anything I could have believed. This article is not about answers, for there are none except intellectual words. It is about the power hidden behind questions that have haunted people since the beginning of time.
A man recently asked me a very intelligent question, “Why are questions so incessant. We are driven for answers that never arrive but only lead to more questions. Why is it like this?”
The reason there are no answers is because it is Oneness that is prodding us towards itself. We glibly state, my self included, that oneness is the answer as if we now know the answer. Can we know Oneness as long as we are in the human form? Oneness is so vast, so limitless that it staggers our imagination. In this realization alone, that we don’t know, begins our authentic ‘knowing’ that the unknown is beyond mind. In this acknowledged unknowing we have opened our heart in innocence and authenticity.
It was a wise Zen master who said, “It is the absence of intellectual knowing that allows the discovery of the new.”
Did you ever wonder why we get so stuck in our growth? Is there something we are missing in our understanding? Look no further because this topic can be your breakthrough.
The secret lies in understanding the power and wisdom of questioning. We might have never seen the wisdom and power of questioning because the moment we had a deep question we wanted an answer.
It was the ‘answer’ itself made up of words
that actually stifled and kept us in a box.
Answer this question now – “Can you step into the unknown and construct a life unrestricted by answers? If so, you are now on your way to real knowing beyond intellectual knowing.
What is a question?
Let us get to basics first – what is a question? The word ‘question’ means a quest, seeking, searching and needing. It is life’s way to help us evolve in consciousness. And, it is consciousness itself asking the questions according to the level of our awareness growth.
As my morning work consists of answering a multitude of email questions, I have learned to ‘feel’ the questioner by the level of the questions themselves. The questions that are unconscious inside you are the causes of your stress and negative reactions. In fact, all unresolved questions are our suffering. Initially our questions center on our ego and that is as it should be. They often consist of ‘why’ and also ‘how.’ The word ‘why’ is the first indication that the questioner doesn’t really want the truth but an escape from it. For instance if someone asks, “why am I suffering?” are looking for sympathy and someone who canb enable their victim-mentality. A fully matured question would be more like, “What is suffering?”
If you are really interested in taking a leap in understanding then do not just read this script but digest it, feel it, reflect on it until something is triggered within you.
The nature of questions
The nature of a question is the recognition that we do not know. There’s an old Zen saying that affirms, “If you think you know, then it’s clear you don’t know. If you admit you don’t know then you know.”
This most basic of understandings is also the most powerful. The knowledge that trumps all other knowledge is the understanding that we have no certainty. A fact that frightens us is that the ego can NEVER be certain (nor secure or safe). The moment we start getting to know this fact and accept it, it is at that moment we start becoming unstuck. We really don’t know except words from hearsay and books. This ‘not-knowing’ allows an investigation into life that is unobstructed by our conditioning, uncluttered by our information. Just remember this fact…
It is the absence of knowing
That allows the discovery of the new.
Why do we get stuck? It is because nobody ever told us that there is nothing to know for the mind except information. Information cannot help you anymore than black dots on a white page can. We fit what is new into what is old by seeking answers thinking we now know. This thinking we know simply repeats the same old patterns, old thinking and old questions.
When it comes to the Truth there is nothing to know and the only way to break free is to stop trying to know something thus open yourself to what is already in you and about you and really start looking in a fresh new way.
How do we come to know beyond intellectual knowing? -- by looking deeply into our natural questioning nature. This whole journey on earth is an evolution of consciousness. This evolution of consciousness has one single drive – to know itself! And, how does it get to know itself? -- Through the process of questioning. Did you know that our whole make-up is built on questions? Our every step in our consciousness ‘climb’ is a question understood (not answered).
Initially we are so filled with questions that we do not know we have them. These ‘living-questions’ are known as restlessness, stress, over-active mind and body plus all negative thinking.
Did you know that you are asking questions most of the time without ever realizing it? Every stressful feeling, every anxiety, every discomfort and every negative thought is a question.
What are we seeking (questing)? We are unconsciously propelled by consciousness to know itself and so our unconscious questions are about finding meaning and belonging. Remember that these questions are unconscious. For example, whenever you feel out-of-sorts what is happening? You are unconsciously asking a question. For instance, suppose you are feeling anxious aren’t you raising the unconscious question, “I wonder what’s going to happen?” Suppose you are hurt by someone close to you – what are you asking (unconsciously, of course), “Is there something wrong with me? Maybe I’m not lovable? Am I missing something other people have?” So, let us make it simpler by saying that all negative emotions are questions we are UNCONSCIOUSLY asking.
We have taken a big step the moment we become aware of the questions we are asking, we are already above average awareness. When we start looking at these questions as a means of ‘learning’ more about ourselves then we have taken a giant leap in awareness growth.
Why does the subconscious keep asking questions? This is all part of consciousness evolution. Emotional dysfunction or any mental illness is total unawareness of this action of questioning. When we become aware how every negative emotion is a question, that’s greater awareness. When we use such questions to get to know and meet ourselves, that’s even greater awareness. However, the greatest leap is when we realize we are NOT asking the questions at all. It is life’s way ‘trying’ to awaken us.
The levels of questions
What is interesting are the levels of questions people ask. The average consciousness has so many questions that it doesn’t know what to ask or how to phrase its feelings. Anything that is discussed beyond its level of comfort is usually ignored or not ‘heard’ at all. When questions are asked initially they are concerned with ‘others’ and the world, such as “Why is there suffering in the world?” “What if people take advantage of me?” “People are not generally loving and kind!” This subconscious questions are known as ‘living-questions’ and affect every area of our life. It is imperative that we recognize our living questions.
I get so many single women clients who have relationship problems and find it hard to maintain a relationship longer than a year. Through probing their ‘living-question’ I find that they are carrying ‘self-sabotage’ questions such as “I wonder if he’ll stay?” “If he finds out how I really am he will not like me” “I feel rejected when he doesn’t call and expect the worst” and many more. These questions or inner statements, unknown to the individual create an unconscious intention for failure.
What is a ‘living-question?’ -- It is unexplored feeling of negative emptiness and surfaces as stress and a closed heart.
The initial questions are triggered by unconscious guilt such as “What is wrong with me?” “Why am I different?” “Why don’t I feel good enough?” “What am I missing?” “Why aren’t I happy?”
The average questions asked are usually about ‘others’ or about events and situations not directly affecting the questioner except indirectly. It takes courage and somewhat of an egoless nature to expose oneself openly especially in a group situation. It is only when such courage has awakened that those deeper questions start being asked.
The first stage of questions involves the world and this is understandable because in the initial stages of consciousness the world is quite real. Fundamental questions about the government, political system, money, people’s behavior and so on are threatening our security and safety.
The second stage the ‘world’ questions then lead to personal ones and how they affect us. At this point we may ask ‘experts’ or some authorities or join some support group and so on.
In the third stage we start reading a lot but not because we want truth but because we want answers. This is a slow stage and oftentimes we get stuck in it for a whole lifetime.
Truth is scary because it is Oneness and therefore there is no ‘you’ as you believed you are. You just don’t want to hear about this and resort to some comfortable belief system where your fears are supported.
It is in the fourth stage that we start seeking spiritual truth but only on our level of understanding. Most of the time is is spiritual fascination about esoteric themes such as reincarnation, karma, miracles, supernatural events, healings, chakras and so on. These are valid facts but NOT Truth. Truth is Oneness where there is no one doing anything.
In the fifth stage we get fascinated with advaita known also as Oneness. We read voraciously and begin the belief that we now know the truth. We just want to know that we know and we let others know that we know by the knowledgeable statements we make.
In the sixth stage we realize we do not know anything and there’s no one to know anything. This is the stage of innocence and true love. This is the open heart.
Questions never cease as long as we are human. And, questions have no answers because they were NOT meant to. When someone awakens to the full nature of pure consciousness then questions stop and there is eternal rest and bliss. However, what has actually happened is that questions have become recognitions due to one simple fact – all ‘answers’ had stopped. Questions never cease because the human part of us incessantly wants answers.
It is quite a shock to the human system (ego)
when it realizes there are no answers and there never was.
Paradoxically, it is this very shock to the human
that elevates it beyond its box.
Learning to listen
We think it is ‘we’ who ask but there is no ‘we’ or ‘me’ that asks but a strong drive of consciousness to get to know itself. The ordinary mind can ‘choose’ to listen or not. When there is no listening to inner questions then we ask,
“Why do I feel sadness without knowing why?”
“Why do I feel as if I am missing something?”
“Why am I so restless and uneasy with myself for no apparent reason?”
Well, here’s the good news – you haven’t been listening to your deep restless questions and instead tried to find an answer which would have been impossible. Start listening to your deep questions that come to you as a feeling of boredom, listlessness, worry, fear, anxiety and a host of other uncomfortable thoughts and judgments. All these feelings are a clear indication of unexplored questions deep within you. How else can consciousness grow unless it pushes you into a discomfort zone?
Who is it that asks these questions within us? We do not ask these questions, they are our triggers to listen, to explore, to choose to LISTEN WITHIN and ask the ultimate question that will liberate us – “Who am I?”
We do not have the free-will we always thought we had – our choice is very simple (and we do have that choice) – to LISTEN and become aware without seeking answers. We also have the choice to resist and reject exploring our inner questions by seeking answers. Now, let me ask you this – have the answers you received from books, teachers and friends ever gave you lasting peace, security and safety? Of course not! No one can give you these ‘qualities’ because they are your very heart itself when all answers are given up including the ‘answer’ to the ultimate question, “Who am I?”
Ask yourself right now, “Who am I?” and if you know you cannot answer it and accept it fully that it has no answer, then you are already feeling greater understanding because your heart has opened. And please do not confuse the word ‘answer’ with the word ‘understanding.’ The word ‘understanding’ refers to an inner knowing, which is a felt-sense. It is like understanding that you exist and yet it is a felt-sense and not an ‘answer.’ It is the felt-sense that brings inner harmony, peace, awakened love and eternal rest (security and freedom).
How do we awaken deep questions?
Einstein’s genius emerged from his ability to look at Life and marvel at its mystery, and then, ask himself questions about time and space until his own inner wisdom revealed what his mind could not.
The secret of tapping the wisdom of the inner Self is through deep and unusual questions most people never ask. And then, without reaching for an answer to explore the question itself, revelations emerge from deep within as a result of deep exploration.
Most people feel a certain pride when they have an answer to a deep intelligent question. This ‘answer’ which is nothing but a bunch of intellectual words is probably (and most often) borrowed from some hearsay or reading. The real wisdom is in asking the right question. I am grateful to the hundreds of people who have asked me such profound and ‘difficult’ questions because they ‘forced’ me to look deep within myself.
When we step into the unknown and construct a life unrestricted by answers but filled with wonder and awe at life itself, then the questions get deeper as they question the question itself. And, the wonderful thing is, when we are not so keen on arriving at any quick answers, we start fully understanding the questions. And the truth is – an ‘experienced’ question is superior and deeper than its possible answer. This is the secret of awakening inner knowing. The understanding that comes from knowing fully the question itself and what we are really asking (the why and what of it) is what enriches our life. Intellectual answers are mere words that only satisfy the ego and have no staying power. Whereas, when we can look deep within and search our very being for what we really want to know, and formulate such a question that points out exactly what we are asking, then it is a matter of understanding the question itself that brings greater clarity.
How do we understand the question?
There are two steps to understanding the question. However, before going into these two steps it is imperative that the question is a deep unrelenting need of your soul. It is something that has lingered within you for a long time but never had the courage to ask it. You might have to start LISTENING to the deep longings within you (which are your living-questions) and then writing them down as they come to you. Please do not try to make sense of them. When you have a long list and they go all over the place in their incoherence, then it is time to see what the common denominator in all of them is. When you arrive at the one major question then simply write it down as succinctly and clearly as possible. In other words, know what it is you are really asking.
Then follow the two steps:
1. Stay away from reaching for an answer to the question (this is imperative). The ‘answer’ might pop into your head but just laugh at it and let it go. No matter what answers your mind will come up with, they will not be satisfying nor ‘awareness-producing.’
2. Now look deeply at the question and see what your heart is trying to tell you. Just remember this – that this question represents your level of awareness in getting to know itself. This acceptance without reaching for a solution activates your ’unknowing’ of the question. This acknowledged ‘unknowing’ automatically triggers a silent ‘knowing’ that defies explanation because it is not made up of words. What happens is a deep resonance of felt-sense of our wholeness. Accept fully that no answer is necessary and you are willing to stay in this ‘unknowing’ forever if need be. It is this humbleness that brings a glory that can’t be put in words.