“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.”
“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.
“And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke (1825-1926) in Letters to a Young Poet (pub. 1934)
In times of marked uncertainty, change, and transformation, it’s wise counsel that tells us to learn to love the questions, or to live into the questions, lest we find ourselves bound tight by fear and a slew of unhelpful statements (which also — honest fact — put a serious cramp in our more creative, intuitive thinking channels!).
Being patient, well that’s a different matter altogether!
But inquiry? We can have some fun with that, and who knows: it might even help strengthen those patience-muscles.
I’ve written about the power of questions and transformative inquiry many times over the years, both on Ivy Sea Online and here at Sophia’s Children.
For many years, I’ve used inquiry and questions with clients, including a long stretch when I specialized in difficult, high-conflict communication scenarios and large-scale change projects.
I’ve also practiced deeply with it myself, because it really does make a difference and open things up when they’ve become too narrow or fundamentalist.
In fact, there’s a little personal joke that my first word was a question (why? followed by why not?).
Even so, I’m always grateful for the reminder, because I often need the reminder — it’s super-easy in shaken-and-stirred times to fall back into the tiny boxes of definitive statements ending with a period, and there are times when I do that as easily as anyone.
It makes sense.
Going through life (and certainly facing challenges) with only the period at the end of a bunch of statements is more than just limiting — it has the potential to be strait-jacketing, creativity crushing, and soul-killing (not to mention the source of a whole lot of avoidable conflict!).
Changing some (or more than a few) of those periods to question marks is like magic, though, in that it opens things up, stirs creative and intuitive thinking, creates spaciousness, and invites new possibility.
I was going to go into the shocking statistics I came across recently, linked to marked rises in anxiety, depression, pharma use, and suicide, along with recent perspectives I came across about the disillusionment of many in our culture, but that deserves its own post.
It’s linked, though, in my mind, to the power of inquiry, and definitely linked with the need to reclaim crucial lost ancestral wisdom and refresh our spiritual practices.
Inquiry, questions, living into the question, creates an instant, if not always comfortable, shift … it’s like a key that opens the perceptual prison, or a force that dissolves those pigeon-hole walls.
As Rilke advised the young poet, and each of us, in the face of uncertainty or hopelessness, even, ask the questions.
Learn to love the questions. Live into the questions.
Because it’s better any minute of any day than closing ourselves off into a deadening box, burying ourselves alive with assumptions and stale statements.
There’s an art to the power of asking good questions, but that makes sense, doesn’t it?
After all, “Why is this happening to me?” is very different from (and a lot less empowering than) “What else might be possible here?”
What other questions might really open things up and even invite fresh perspective, or even what seems magic or miracle?
To further stir the Spirit of Inquiry:
Follow your intuition and click through to read:
• See a few sample questions in Home and the Radar of Your Heart, or
• Explore living into the experiment of Holy, Crazy Grace or
Coaching & Consultation for Personalized Progress:
If you prefer more tailored, relevant-to-you counsel from a transformative inquiry dialogue partner and believing mirror ally, schedule a coaching series or consultation – you’ll find current special offerings here:
Who knows what creative responses, unexpected ideas, and new possibilities might be just behind the next question?
Big Love and Insight-Rich Inquiry,