The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully...

The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully. Inquiry is not just a way to solve problems. It is a way to make sure you are staying in touch with the basic mystery of life itself and of our presence here. Who am I?  Where am I going?  What does it mean to be?  What does it mean to be a …man, woman, child, parent; a student, a worker, a boss, an inmate; a homeless person?  What is my karma?  Where am I now?  What is my way?  What is my job on the planet with a capital J?

Inquiry doesn’t mean looking for answers, especially quick answers which come out of superficial thinking. It means asking without expecting answers, just pondering the question, carrying the wondering with you, letting it percolate, bubble, cook, ripen, come in and out of awareness, just as everything else comes in and out of awareness.

You don’t have to be still to inquire. Inquiry and mindfulness can occur simultaneously in the unfolding of your daily life. In fact, inquiry and mindfulness are one and the same thing, come to from different directions. You can ponder “What am I”  or  “What is this?”  or “Where am I going?”  or  “What is my job?”  as you are fixing a car, walking to work, doing the dishes, listening to your daughter sing on a starlit spring evening, or looking for a job.

Problems of all shapes and sizes come up all the time in life. They range from the trivial to the profound to the overwhelming. The challenge here is to meet them with inquiry, in the spirit of mindfulness. It would mean asking, “What is this thought, this feeling, this dilemma?”  “How am I going to deal with it?”  Or even, “Am I willing to deal with it or even acknowledge it?”

The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem, which means there is strain or tension or disharmony of some kind. It might take us forty or fifty years to even come close to acknowledging some of the big demons we carry. But maybe that’s okay too. There’s no timetable for inquiry. It’s like a pot sitting on your shelf. It’s ready to do the cooking whenever you are ready to take it down, put something in it, and heat it on the stove.

Inquiry means asking questions, over and over again. Do we have the courage to look at something, whatever it is, and to inquire, what is this?  What is going on?  It involves looking deeply for a sustained period, questioning, questioning, what is this?  What is wrong?  What is at the root of the problem?  What is the evidence?  What are the connections?  What would a happy solution look like?  Questioning, questioning, continually questioning.

Inquiry is not so much thinking about answers, although the questioning will produce a lot of thoughts that look like answers. It really involves just  listening to the thinking that your questioning evokes, as if you were sitting  by the side of the stream  of your own thoughts, listening to the water flow over and around the rocks, listening, listening, and watching an occasional leaf or twig, as it is carried along.



Fuente: Wherever You Go, There You Are. Jon Kabat-Zinn. Piatkus Books. London. 2014.


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