Around my House is an Orchard in which
grow Plants of many sizes and varieties, smells and colours. Each
Plant is a Question.
The small Plants are Questions that are easily
answered. Such Plants ask: “What shall I wear
today?” “What's on TV?” “Where
did I leave my keys?” Of course, once the Question
is answered the Plant stops growing.
There are Perennials that ask Questions
that take longer to answer: “What will I do for a living?” “How
do moths communicate?” “How many undiscovered planets orbit our
My favourites are the Trees for they pose
questions that have no absolute answer. There is a big Oak that
constantly inquires , “What is God? What is Spirit?” The Acorns
that fall around the Oak germinate and ask related Questions, “How
does Spirit move in my life? What does ‘Thy will be done’ mean?”
Nearby is a towering Redwood that wonders, “What is Love?” An elegant
Elm repeats, “Who am I? Who am I?” The Trees are constantly growing
and bearing fruit.
Many years ago when I was taking counseling training
I would frequently ask questions. My supervisior's constistent reply
was, "That's a good question." At first I was irritated
by his standard response because I wanted him to give me the answer.
Later, it dawned on me that the question is more important than
the answer. Many of us are uncomfortable with unanswered questions
for we believe that the answers will provide security and comfort.
That way of acting in life means we miss the pregnant uncertainties
and mysteries of life. It is the question that nurtures life, always
seeking to expand and embrace more of life. To live in the question
is to let go of control, and by letting go of control we open up
to new perspectives and greater depths in our connections.. The
soul seeks life, the personality seeks comfort.
One of the most important of these life-giving,
open-ended questions is "Who am I?" Ramana Maharshi considered
this question "the only method of putting an end to all misery
and ushering in supreme Beatitude." [The Collected Works
of Ramana Maharshi, 1997, p29]. Mark Epstein states that "The
core question of Buddhist practice, after all, is the psychological
one of 'Who am I?.' " [Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein, 1995, p17] The question is important as we tend
to identify with limited aspects of ourselves such as our profession
or job (I am a teacher), a relationship (I am Julie's husband),
an addiction (I am an alcoholic), a judgment (I am stupid), weight
(I am fat), height (I am tall), a name (I am Jonathan), a feeling
(I am angry). race (I am causcasion) and even gender (I am male).
This is a question we each need to investigate
for ourselves. I will continue with this theme in a future article.