Inquiry from the heart is essential because, if we make this practice part of our lives, it is one of the key ways to focus our awareness in the direction of our own healing and fulfillment. It can also alert us when we are not heading in a healing direction. When we develop awareness that heals, an inquiry almost always arises to reveal a path to make things as good as they can be. Similarly, our friendly mind often provokes inquiries that help us address how we can be with and tolerate situations when no solution is presenting itself.
A friend of mine used to ask me in a discouraged and self-critical tone, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I find some upside income?” I was immediately struck by his question, because it was clearly not inquiry from the heart. It was inquiry from a place of profound self-rejection. It was essentially a way of berating himself, especially since he followed it with “What’s my problem that I can’t find a way to earn more money like most of my friends?” With time and greater self-caring, he almost totally gave up this kind of questioning—he could even do it with a smile—as he saw his self-criticism more clearly. He was able to see that he needed to change the nature and tone of the questions that he asked himself if he was going to feel better. He shifted the question so it could make a real difference, by asking, “Is there anything I can do this week that would be beneficial to support my livelihood?”
We often start out with vague questions that sabotage our contemplation by asking about a future that we can’t really do anything about in the present. We may ask, “Why can’t I ever lose this weight?” or “Why is it that I haven’t found a greater sense of purpose in my life?” These questions can’t really be answered because they are too futuristic and general. Also, curiously enough, they often keep us frustrated and stuck in the very problem we want to solve. Our questions always need to give us a real chance to respond or learn something new that could be beneficial.
Inquiry gives us an immediate chance to shift from our painful or fearful thoughts and feelings, to seeking our greatest realistic potential. It is an invitation for you to contemplate your life, inquire and give yourself a legitimate chance to respond. This allows you to move toward healing and the resolution of whatever challenge life has presented.