Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
I want answers. Now. Always now. I was raised and condition to find answers. My schooling was always about finding answers to questions.
But. (That is an annoying word and looks funny by itself.)
The Question itself defines the parameters in which we both use, and then seek, the answers. In other words the question will define the narrow field in which we believe we will find the answers. Sometimes there are no answers in the moment we look, we are not ready to see them.
I realized a long time ago that there are only “momentary” answers that are really just the set up to the next question and the next. Adding onto to that, I also became aware that life offers questions that have no answers. Conditioned personality wants’us to suffer by constantly seeking answer to those things that may not have answers. My use of time has become something that interests me. Time spend focusing on things that do have have answers does not seem like a fruitful use of time. I cannot afford to struggle with those questions with no answers, so what I do is accept them. And life has become much easier.
I used to find myself wondering “why” people do the things they do. I had lots of opinions, observations, feelings, and changing ideas about “why” people do things. I would ask myself, “Why would they do that?” Adding somewhat arrogantly, “Why don’t they see what or how I see?” In the end the answer was always, “I don’t know.”
It felt like I was trying to figure out a Quantum Mechanics question when really it was just another human doing things I don’t understand. It’s not as though if I figure it out anything will change. I think the thing that escaped me was that I don’t actually know why I do things or why I think what I think most of the time. How was I going to ever figure out anyone else? (Ego is a funny thing.)
Please don’t misunderstand, some questions do require answers because my well being may rely on the answer. I’m not looking for answers as much as temporary solutions. But accepting questions does cover a lot of useless “Why is the human like that or why are things this way?” questions. And, we need to remember that we can always revisit questions if necessary, and solutions may come to us that wouldn’t have risen before we were ready.
Somebody once said, you can tell if it’s a real question because it will have an answer, anything else is Conditioned personality reinforcing ego’s need to be the primary actor.
So, I started attending to a practice that involved acceptance of the questions. (For what it’s worth, I think the 12 step “Serenity Prayer” has a great handle on the process of “I don’t know and it’s OK that I don’t know. It may not appeal to you depending on personal belief.”) I realize that the emotional content of living with questions is a bit different than I first thought. I can only describe it as a feeling and knowing of acceptance. That would mean I redirect my attention away from chewing on the question and towards an open accepting. And that doesn’t mean liking or approving of anything. But it means being willing to accept a question like I would accept the existence of a river or mountain or the sun rising. It just is the way it is. There are no answers to a flowing stream. Just the stream flowing.
What I noticed almost immediately is that a lot of muddy mind water became clearer. I noticed that I wasn’t becoming emotional entangled with questions anymore, even if they had temporary solutions. There is a certain amount of free space that opens up in acceptance.
Take care of you,
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