all 6 comments

[–]HibikiBlack 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

I think our brains are wired to make questions all the time. I don't see anything wrong with it, in fact asking questions about things has made me a whole lot happier. I'm sure there is a part of us that is immortal and I wouldn't have reached that conclusion if I didn't ask myself things.

I see the idea of not asking questions kind of too extreme of a measure, I think it would be safer to simply take a more stoic point of view and accept the world as it is. I think asking questions is something logical and natural.

[–]magnora7 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I perhaps could've titled this better, but it's not about avoiding questioning entirely, but rather being more discerning about when to use the ability to question, because most questions aren't truly answerable and/or provide little benefit when answered. We spend a lot of our time spinning our wheels, thinking we're helping ourselves, when we're just adding more of a burden to carry around.

[–]Telestai777 4 insightful - 1 fun4 insightful - 0 fun5 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Nice post. I can relate to this a lot and have, more so in the past, been in my fair share of existential storms wrestling with a number of questions about the nature of many things.

Reading the Buddha’s teachings and participating in Vipassana meditation retreats have definitely helped me a lot with this, and I would certainly pin that down to the practice of quieting the mind and accepting the reality as it is in every moment (when I am conscious enough to do so). In my experience focusing on breath for long periods of time naturally leads the mind to a state of calm focus in which no questions or thoughts arise, and it's certainly blissful.

I do wonder though, just to touch more on the specifics of your post and the nature of suffering, if it is really the question itself that is the root cause of the suffering, or if the question is merely the flowering of a seed that has been growing from a certain state of mind?

For example, do you think it is possible to experience suffering in a state of mind that is absent of thoughts or internal chatter? Likewise, is it possible to contemplate and ask difficult questions from a place of happiness and joy?

If so, then it would mean the root cause of suffering goes deeper then simply the arising or asking of the question itself.

While I do agree with almost everything you’ve said, I would only add that I don’t think the asking of a question in itself is the root cause of suffering, rather the question, and more importantly the emotional reaction to the question, is likely arising from an antecedent state of mind.

The question, and the emotional reaction to the question, may simply be the leaves or branches of the tree. Cutting them down by ignoring them or focusing on the breath may temporarily give rise to a feeling of bliss, but i think it might be a kind of ‘ignorance is bliss’ sort of situation, as opposed to the bliss of gnosis or enlightenment which is supposed to come as a direct result of knowing, realisation, or illumination.

In Vipassana meditation there are two components to alleviate suffering and liberate the mind, the initial quieting of the mind via concentration, then the “de-rooting” process of the mind via body scanning and non-reactive unconditional awareness. It is this second component, according to the Vipassana philosophy, which actually targets the root causes of suffering and leads to liberation/enlightenment.

As an interesting side note, there is also a Hindu practice described in the Upanishads called Jnana yoga (neti neti), which uses the intellect to question everything with sharp logic until there is literally nothing left to question and at which point it is hoped the mind will settle into a state of no thoughts.

There really are many ways to play this game.

Good post.

PS: I just moved over here from reddit. Thanks for all your work here brother!

Ref: (neti neti)

[–]magnora[S] 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

Hey I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier. Thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful response.

You bring up some very good questions. Neti neti sounds very interesting and kind of similar to my own approach, but I've never head this name until now. Meditation is such an interesting thing and I appreciate your perspective.

[–]i_cansmellthat 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Doesn't it depend on the question?

In terms of survival, I'm not sure humans could have made it this far without questions. We aren't capable, instinctual beings that have survival skills instilled. We are problem solvers, and therefore need the question before us in order to provide for our needs. At least, we did before supermarkets and farms and such.

But going deeper into enlightenment and spirituality.....I think our instinct drives us to ask questions. These questions ultimately have no defined answer, no hard truth. I think searching different religions and perspectives and methods for enlightenment is so important, but at the end of the day one must be content with “I don't know” as an answer. Maybe some suffering comes from an overwhelming desire to define and the inability to do so. Finding peace within the phrase “I don't know” frees you to accept the answer isn't for you at this time. I'm not well read in this area yet (working on it) so sorry if I'm being thick.

I guess my thoughts are that we can't stop questioning, it's how we operate. Maybe through conditioning and meditation we can apply better filters to our questions. And maybe we can smile when we think, “I don't know” and reflect on the possibilities.

[–]magnora7 3 insightful - 1 fun3 insightful - 0 fun4 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I don't mean to say that all questions are bad, just that many are drowning in questions that don't actually provide any net benefit, while they think they're doing themselves a favor.

The right questions are the most valuable things in the world, but carrying around the wrong questions is a weight that wears us down, and I'd posit 95% of the questions we lug around in our minds every day aren't actually a net useful thing. They're just a bad habit, a compulsion.

So I'm not saying "don't question" but rather "use your ability to question very very carefully". Everything looks like a nail when you're using a hammer. Everything looks like some riddle that must be solved when using the lens of questioning. This can cause problems. But questioning is definitely useful in the right context.