What is life? Who am I? Fundamental questions like these, are probably known to most people; but where are they coming from and how do we live with them?
Often, one is eager to find answers to open fundamental questions as fast as possible. There are plenty of replies in the world and all over the Internet in this regard.
Each of them is coloured by a particular worldview, ideology or tradition.
And if one of the accepted answers no longer seems to be adequate, one quickly looks for a more suitable one, to be selected from the infinite catalogue of explanations.
Nevertheless, if we are constantly occupied with answers, isn’t there the danger of missing the vital quality of the question?
Living with the question
A mind that is living with a question is undoubtedly involved in a completely different activity than a mind that lives with an answer.
For us, answers are often synonymous with words or concepts, because the human mind normally lives on this level of words and ideas.
However, the question arises: is there a dimension in man that is beyond all explanations, and can enter into direct contact with truth?
If one negates any direct, memory-based response to this question because it is recognized that the answer is in itself an explanation, then, only a state of not-knowing remains. What is the quality of this state of not-knowing? Is it not, essentially, a state of questioning, observing and an exploring?
Let’s inquire into what the origin of fundamental questions is
In our daily life, one is used to saying, “I have this or that question”, or, “this is my question”. But is it justified to assert that?
Is it, that oneself consciously provokes a certain fundamental question? Is it the personal will that creates it, or one’s thinking that plans to have it? Is it therefore really something that is “mine” or is it just alive in oneself?
When it comes to a fundamental question, we probably will have the insight that it is not part of the personal intention to have it. Looking at it neutrally, one would say; it is simply there.
So it can be seen that fundamental questions do not come forth from one’s own will. Rather, they arise from the spontaneous contact between a vital state of not-knowing and that which is in the now - “the what is”.
Fundamental questions are therefore a natural expression of life itself. They are part of the creative movement of life, which unfolds in its own absolute order and harmony.
The earth, the trees, all animals, the stars, the entire cosmos vibrating in harmony are a creative expression of the one life. The same is true for fundamental questions. They are also a creation of life, but only on a much subtler level.
Creation has not come to an end; it flows steadily like a river that renews itself continuously. Thus, as participants in this creative process, we experience creative impulses by, for example, fundamental questions that arise in our consciousness.
Every question carries its own answer
In the world of words and concepts, this statement must sound foolish. We are accustomed to receiving answers to questions from the outside, from somebody that gives explanations; be it from the teachers in the school, the experts in society or the priests in the religious traditions. This is just fine when it refers to practical knowledge of the outside world.
However, in the inner realm it prevents the unfolding of that deep inherent quality that asks, understands, breathes, lives and blossoms out of itself.
As human beings, we are often so used to consuming answers and words, that we deep down, unconsciously believe, that we are unable to find out for ourselves what truth is – and therefore we abide with answers and concepts.
Life inquires into itself
One can say, for example, that the seed of a tree carries within itself the question of what a tree is. The seed needs space, silence, air, water, earth and light to manifest the tree. At the same time, everything is provided to carry out this creative impulse of the question of what a tree is. It is the same with the human being.
In every expression of life, life is, in essence, inquiring into itself. In this movement, no aspect of life is separate from another. And so, life inquires into itself also through the human being: What is life? What is truth? These questions vibrate in the entire creation.
Now, the question ‘what is life’ has drawn the garment of words around it. It has taken form and shape. However, isn’t there a more comprehensive impulse of inquiry behind it? A few words that form a particular question materialize out of this deeper ambit through all the various aspects of our being, down to the nature of our thinking.
The question in itself goes far beyond the three words: ‘what is life?’. The words are just the tip of the iceberg, and behind them, there is the powerful creative impulse of life. To be aware of the question, to ponder over it, means to give room for this vast creative movement.
One can understand each question as the opening of a door. Life opens this door in man; it playfully touches him. And what happens if this door is not closed by mere words, by subjective speculation or quick explanations? Hasn’t this creative movement then the space it needs to widen and deepen itself in the human consciousness?
Having a fundamental question requires no effort. In the same way, the unfolding of a question requires no effort.
In the silent awareness of the question, that which is true, that which is absolute and holy can begin to express itself in the consciousness of man.
Can the unfolding of what is holy happen now, in the attentive observation of these things in oneself? Can it happen in the very same inquiry, to find out whether what is being said is true or not?
Such an inquiry does not demand intellectual analysis. To find out for oneself what is true, one only needs to observe, to listen without a shadow of judgment, conclusion, or dependence on past knowledge.
Asking and inquiring, observing and listening are part of the deepest and most natural qualities of life, and therefore of a human being. They flare up when living with the simple fact of “I don’t know”. Not-knowing is the very branch from where divine creation spreads its wings. Where even a subtle “I know” is present, nothing new can unfold. The “I know” is in essence the absence of attention.
In the unfolding of this consciousness in man, lies absolute freedom from authority. In such an attentive mind, the question is born and creates immediately a responding movement, out of its communion with light, water, earth - with everything. This response does not lie primarily in words, concepts or abstract ideas, but in the direct and ongoing manifestation of truth in man. It means to be a fertile ground for the creative movement of life.
When the strings of a guitar are being stroked, the response of the whole resonating body can be a wonderful sound. To vibrate, it must be completely unbiased, unprejudiced, completely susceptible, or in other words; inquiringly listening.
Is it possible for the human being to be in this way inquiringly listening? If this is a fundamental question within oneself, no effort is necessary to allow it to blossom.