Encephalon

The Relationship between Curiosity and Spirituality

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This subject has been lingering within since I first read "Buddhism Without Beliefs" by Stephen Batchelor twenty years ago.

  

"As soon as awareness finds itself baffled and puzzled by rainfall, a chair, the breath, they present themselves as questions.  Habitual assumptions and descriptions suddenly fail and we hear our stammering voices cry out: "What is this?" Or simply: "What?" or "Why?" Or perhaps no words at all, just "?"

The questioning that emerges from unknowing differs from conventional inquiry in that it has no interest in finding an answer...

This perplexed questioning is the central path itself.  In refusing to be drawn into the answers of "yes" or "no," it let's go of the extremes of affirmation and negation, something and nothing.  Like life itself, it just keeps going, free from the need to hold to any fixed positions - including those of Buddhism... Perplexity keeps awarness on its toes.  It reveals experience as transparent, radiant, and unimpeded.  Questioning is the track on which the centered person moves."

 

This is a profoundly important point and I fear I might tarnish the subject with the following observations, but curiosity seems to be a fairly accurate indicator of how deeply connected people are to the world.  (In fact, one writer has equated spirituality with the feeling of connectedness, and ecology with the science of connectedness, which I thought was insightfully cool.)  We all know people who have unquenchable curiosity and they are a delight to be around, and we see others with virtually no curiosity at all aspiring to positions of power; Sarah Palin comes to mind, a woman of virtually no interests, no curiosity, no scholarship of any kind.  And of course, we have Our Dear Leader in the White House, a man who champions the failure of being even fleetingly interested in anything beyond his own immediate self-interest and whose spiritual inclinations are essentially non-existent; he's simply not connected to the world and possesses no empathy for others.  This dearth of empathy often appears as an absence of intelligence itself,  but in the final analysis, empathy and intelligence become indistinguishable, just as the Buddhists have claimed from the very beginning; wisdom and compassion eventually merge.  Distinctions between the two impulses blur, and what is most loving often proves to be the most wise. 

 

Edited by Encephalon
typos
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Corinthians 13

 

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

 

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

 

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

 

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

 

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

 

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

 

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

 

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

 

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

 

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

 

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

 

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


 

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milada-vigerova-36934-unsplash-1024x683.

https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/discomfort-compassion/

 

Compassion is big these days. Amazon boasts more than 8,000 book titles related to the topic. Forbes and the Harvard Business Review have published articles telling CEOs about the benefits of running their companies more compassionately. Secularized compassion meditation programs are being implemented in schools in an effort to stop bullying. Everywhere we look, it seems as though compassion is having a moment. But there is little discussion of what “compassion” actually is.

 

 

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Thanks for sharing this topic encephalon.

 

Some years back I noticed a subtle, but potent shift in my process.  The bouyant centeredness of questions that have no firm answers replaced my former insatiable desire for certainty in perception and thought.

 

It was born of an unsought rise in Deeply Seeded Doubt of every aspect of life formerly taken as 'understood'.  This Doubt has been invaluable in freeing awareness from the harness of assumption and has aided enormously in dissolving former assumptions of my own true nature, not only formerly held notions of right and wrong, or how the world is.

 

Being not only satisfied, but genuinely fulfilled by the arising of questions that generate no firm answers, or seem to be unanswerable through current awareness... and then abiding in the answerlessness of them has become central to my process and is liberating at a depth I could not have forseen.

 

Keen, Radical Doubting has naturally given rise to a bouyant dancing with answerless questions.

 

Often as you alluded to... the questions are no longer even arising as worded thoughts... but a pure, simplistic unworded query that is half questioning and half joyful observation of "......?"

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2 hours ago, Encephalon said:

The Relationship between Curiosity and Spirituality

 

Hi Encephalon,

 

Thank you for the sensitivity shared on the thread ~ I can almost feel what you are trying to put across.

 

2 hours ago, Encephalon said:

Perplexity keeps awareness on its toes.  It reveals experience as transparent, radiant, and unimpeded.  Questioning is the track on which the centered person moves."

 

To me experience tops everything ~ experiential knowledge is key. Questioning is the track on which the centered person moves.

 

I try and move thus in my attempts to connect with plants, birds...  The outcomes? I can feel their connections but not with words.

 

Many years ago I went through a very dark patch trying to complete my study and a lizard came to help me. I have a photo of this lizard on my computer dashboard which I have failed to download onto this message. I can send the photo to anyone who wish to have a look ~ please liaise with me through PM.

 

(Nintendao and Creighton ~ I  have just send the photo to you both through email. Please confirm receipt. Thank you.)

 

3 hours ago, Encephalon said:

This dearth of empathy often appears as an absence of intelligence itself,  but in the final analysis, empathy and intelligence become indistinguishable, just as the Buddhists have claimed from the very beginning; wisdom and compassion eventually merge.

 

When I first tried to chant The Great Compassion Mantra ~ I did not understand word (still up to today) but tears just flowed...

 

 

I am now chanting the mantra re COVID-19.

 

Keep safe and well.

 

- Anand

 

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51 minutes ago, silent thunder said:

Often as you alluded to... the questions are no longer even arising as worded thoughts... but a pure, simplistic unworded query that is half questioning and half joyful observation of "......?"

 

Hi Creighton,

 

"......?"........."realization through feelings?"

 

- Anand

 

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not a feeling, not a sensation, not an emotion, not a thought.

 

awareness...

 

tzujan...

 

of itself, no layering, no judgement

 

raw being

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4 hours ago, silent thunder said:

awareness...

 

Hi Creighton,

 

Is awareness heightened by software, hardware, firmware...?

But beware of their various viruses.

Good to logout, lock-down...

From time to time.

 

th?id=OIP.LnZxCVugCCj3yY7EoJnZoAHaEK&pid=Api&P=0&w=275&h=155

The forest is logged... into emptiness ~ a new awareness?

 

- Anand

 

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Great point and subject for discussion.

I once read a book that hammered this point home for me titled:

The Question to Life's Answers: Spirituality Beyond Belief by Steven Harrison.

The basic point being that questions are alive, full of potential, and can serve as our path.

Answers are dead ends, rather than open us they close us to new and unexpected possibilities.

In the tradition I currently follow, it is taken one step further.

No need for questions, no need for answers, not even a need for curiosity.

Conceptual and intellectual constructs are allowed to be as they are without engaging or following after the mind's activity and content.

Just be...

Leave everything as it is and simply be...

In a sense, it is a form of curiosity disengaged from the discursive mind.

 

 

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2 hours ago, steve said:

In the tradition I currently follow, it is taken one step further.

No need for questions, no need for answers, not even a need for curiosity.

Conceptual and intellectual constructs are allowed to be as they are without engaging or following after the mind's activity and content.

Just be...

Leave everything as it is and simply be...

In a sense, it is a form of curiosity disengaged from the discursive mind.

This!

 

More and more in my life, without seeking it, or cultivating it...

 

This is it.

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3 minutes ago, silent thunder said:

More and more in my life, without seeking it, or cultivating it... This is it.

 

It just happens ~ with you aware in the moment?

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On 6/24/2020 at 9:39 AM, steve said:

No need for questions, no need for answers, not even a need for curiosity.

Conceptual and intellectual constructs are allowed to be as they are without engaging or following after the mind's activity and content.

Just be...

Leave everything as it is and simply be...

In a sense, it is a form of curiosity disengaged from the discursive mind.

In the Dzogchen teachings I have been exposed to, it is emphasized that being completely open and allowing everything to be without clear experience of rigpa can turn into a dullness which is actually the opposite of rigpa.  And that one way to turn an experience of stillness into an experience of rigpa is by using questions, such as, "Who is experiencing this stillness?"  Also, "Where is the mind located?"

 

Is this distinction emphasized in your lineage?  How about the method of questioning as a way to induce rigpa?

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On 6/23/2020 at 3:34 PM, silent thunder said:

Some years back I noticed a subtle, but potent shift in my process.  The bouyant centeredness of questions that have no firm answers replaced my former insatiable desire for certainty in perception and thought.

 

It was born of an unsought rise in Deeply Seeded Doubt of every aspect of life formerly taken as 'understood'.  This Doubt has been invaluable in freeing awareness from the harness of assumption and has aided enormously in dissolving former assumptions of my own true nature, not only formerly held notions of right and wrong, or how the world is.

 

Being not only satisfied, but genuinely fulfilled by the arising of questions that generate no firm answers, or seem to be unanswerable through current awareness... and then abiding in the answerlessness of them has become central to my process and is liberating at a depth I could not have forseen.

 

Keen, Radical Doubting has naturally given rise to a bouyant dancing with answerless questions.

 

Often as you alluded to... the questions are no longer even arising as worded thoughts... but a pure, simplistic unworded query that is half questioning and half joyful observation of "......?"

May I share this on a small group for people focused on awakening via inquiry that I participate in?

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1 hour ago, Creation said:

In the Dzogchen teachings I have been exposed to, it is emphasized that being completely open and allowing everything to be without clear experience of rigpa can turn into a dullness which is actually the opposite of rigpa.  And that one way to turn an experience of stillness into an experience of rigpa is by using questions, such as, "Who is experiencing this stillness?"  Also, "Where is the mind located?"

 

Is this distinction emphasized in your lineage?  How about the method of questioning as a way to induce rigpa?

 

What I mention in that post is the core practice of dzogchen which is to simply rest in the Nature of Mind, completely open and clear without intentionally engaging the discursive mind at all. As you say, it's not where we start. There are things that are necessary for most people before that, otherwise it is very easy to get off the path or never find it in the first place. More often than not we think we are resting in Nature but actually the mind is subtly active and we are simply wasting our time.

 

Step one is the preliminary practices. Step two is introduction to the Nature of Mind. The first part of this introduction involves settling and stabilizing the busy mind. This is called zhiné in Bön, or calm abiding. It's comparable to shamatha. It is meditation on a fixed object, typically the Tibetan letter ཨ. Once we have achieved and stabilized that state of calm abiding, only then do we begin to look back at the one who is looking. Similar to vipassana. If we try to do that before there is stability, the mind is far too active to really observe carefully.

 

There are different approaches in Bön, one of which is to ask questions about the nature of that experience as we meditate on the fixed object. Questions like where is my mind? what color is it? what size? can I show it to anyone? can I measure it? who, what, and where is the one who is looking at the ? who is looking at the one who is looking? etc... In the old days the master would literally send the student out into the wilds of the Himalayas and tell them not to come back until they find it. That doesn't work so well for the sophisticated and educated minds of the West. Different story when teaching uneducated yak herders or young, naive monks.

 

When we look long and hard enough, we may be fortunate enough to find it. What do we find? We find absolutely nothing. That is the empty aspect. And the longer and harder we look, the more real and conclusive that realization is. Just to read and think about it is very superficial. One needs to do that work. Stabilize the mind and then deeply look at it, nakedly and directly. And even though we find nothing at all that we can identify as mind, we need to ask what is it that is aware of that nothing? It is aware of itself, that is the clarity aspect, that is rigpa. And the conclusion cannot be an intellectual one, that is essentially worthless. It needs to be a direct experience of emptiness and clarity. It needs to be so definitive that we no longer have any doubt about what it means to rest in Nature. Once we reach that certainty, that is the meaning of introduction to the Nature of Mind.

 

I wrote the long answer for the benefit of those who may have interest in dzogchen but have not been exposed to any of its teachings. 

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2 hours ago, Creation said:

May I share this on a small group for people focused on awakening via inquiry that I participate in?

Certainly friend.

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"Genius sees patterns in the world. Madmen impose patterns on the world."

Forgot where I read this, can't attribute, but it sure describes contemporary cultural divisions, at least in America, yes?

 

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On 6/23/2020 at 1:34 PM, silent thunder said:

Thanks for sharing this topic encephalon.

 

Some years back I noticed a subtle, but potent shift in my process.  The bouyant centeredness of questions that have no firm answers replaced my former insatiable desire for certainty in perception and thought.

 

It was born of an unsought rise in Deeply Seeded Doubt of every aspect of life formerly taken as 'understood'.  This Doubt has been invaluable in freeing awareness from the harness of assumption and has aided enormously in dissolving former assumptions of my own true nature, not only formerly held notions of right and wrong, or how the world is.

 

Being not only satisfied, but genuinely fulfilled by the arising of questions that generate no firm answers, or seem to be unanswerable through current awareness... and then abiding in the answerlessness of them has become central to my process and is liberating at a depth I could not have forseen.

 

Keen, Radical Doubting has naturally given rise to a bouyant dancing with answerless questions.

 

Often as you alluded to... the questions are no longer even arising as worded thoughts... but a pure, simplistic unworded query that is half questioning and half joyful observation of "......?"

In my experience: things really started to pop for me after the 2nd earth chakka was brought on line during the four blood moons of 2015, then the Giant combination of the harmonic resonance of the earth chakkas began to align the harmonic resonance within the Small individual chakkas of the earths population,  slowly aligning as many as are able to receive it, with the greater collective consciousness of the earth.:)

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