“…people are prepared to transcend all moral boundaries to sustain their view and to fixate upon it beyond all reason. Beyond investigation. Investigation is considered a conspiracy. To actually try to find truth is considered a deviant occupation…”~Ajahn Sucitto
Why even bother with investigation or inquiry? Perhaps inquire, assess and question with intent to lead toward true knowledge, liberation and the (long-term) well-being of all. Know the truth of the way things actually are and then align with truth to bring great happiness. But how and why does aligning with truth bring happiness? Maybe it’s time to investigate for oneself?
One of the primary draws to the Buddhadharma (for me) is the encouragement to deeply, throughly, and fully investigate horizontally, vertically, and beyond. “Ehi Passiko” is a Pali phrase meaning come and see for yourself — or, don’t take my word for it, you must look into and investigate so you know for yourself.
Some modes of investigation:
- go to/discover the root (causes and condition(s)
- the origin(s)
- who (all) is involved?
- discover and examine any and all (core) intention(s)
- what is the gratification
- what is the danger
- what the escape
- who benefits?
Let’s revisit a bit of an older blog post as a type of Buddhic apophatic chisel to carve a bit deeper into Why and Why Not to Question/Inquire (reposted here):
- First and foremost obviously, zero harming
- Not for denigration; to invalidate and/or say something is being done wrong
- Not to challenge anyone’s knowledge
- Not to discredit anyone or anything
- Not to challenge authority
- Not to promote one viewpoint over another
- Not to upset the (surrounding) status quo and certainly not to divide
- Not to test
- Not for domination
- Not for control
- Not for distraction
- Not for delay
- Not to mislead or misguide
- Not to disrupt
- Not for uneasiness
- Not to enact any agendas, known, unknown, or otherwise (other than valid reasons to inquire/question)
- Not for grandstanding, gaining favor, merit, credit, or brownie points
- Not to impress
- Not to destroy
- Not to uphold
- Not to rebuild or reconstruct (from a place of loss or defeat)
- Not for any specific changes
- Not to prove who’s right and who’s wrong from a place of righteousness
- Not in order to prove one’s doubt
- Not for the requirement to receive an answer
- Not for any unskillful, unwise, unwholesome reasons associated with modern day schooling systems aka educational institutions
- Not to nitpick and get lost in the weeds
- Not to leave others behind
- Not to patronize and/or speak down to anybody
- Not to dumb down oneself for a better chance to be under/overstood
- Not to ask one thing but mean another
- Not to personally prove oneself
- Not to suggest preferences or desired outcomes without clearly stating them
- Not to ask because one can
- Not to be seen and/or heard (in order to be heard and/or seen)
- Not for mere curiosity
Ven. Sāriputta said: “All those who ask questions of another do so from any one of five motivations. Which five?
“One asks a question of another through stupidity & bewilderment. One asks a question of another through evil desires & overwhelmed with greed. One asks a question of another through contempt. One asks a question of another when desiring knowledge. Or one asks a question with this thought,1 ‘If, when asked, he answers correctly, well & good. If not, then I will answer correctly (for him).’On Asking Questions
Pañhapucchā Sutta (AN 5:165)
By name alone buddhistinquiry.org is a great include, not to mention the vast knowledge and resources there
Some inquiry techniques:
- practice of sitting with a question by holding it in awareness in meditation/contemplation/reflection and then inquiring about what’s behind and underlying each answer
- feeling into the truth of something
- zen practice of being the koan question
Related audio using this post from the Insight Timer Live event ‘Ask Anyone Anything? Live With Whom? Minor “Ask Us Anything” Restart?‘
Lastly and somewhat related is the text of my twitter thread commenting on the Sounds True: Insights at the Edge episode “A.H. Almaas: Presence: The Elixir of Enlightenment” who teaches a form of inquiry called the Diamond Approach:
1/ Fifth Awareness of the Buddha not mentioned? The other four are:
- Unity of emptiness and presence
- Unity of emptiness and space
- Unity of emptiness and awareness
- Unity of emptiness and passion
Almaas’s definition of self and its relation to anattā/not-self? How’s the elixir jibe with emptiness?
2/ Is there Neurolinguistic Programing (NLP) within Almaas’s material beyond circular, psychological logic when addressing non-dualism?
3/ There is potential in this interview for easy conflation between concepts due to repetition of (interchangeable) concepts in similar ways with (only) slightly significant differences that at times seem inconsistent.
4/ He lays out corresponding adjectives and concepts independently then also mixes and matches them in various ways. And by referring to “it” after several clustered terms it’s a challenge to know what “it” then references.
5/ A transcript may be helpful (because the audio conveys a type of mumble-blurring of words) as well as written definitions for (many appended) terms like nature; true nature; self; consciousness; individual(izing) consciousness; presence; fundamental presence; ….
6/ . . . knowing; spiritual knowing; texture of knowing; being; texture of being; soul; and person. I still want somebody to show me their person because I’ve never seen mine.
Questions: Could delineating between relative and absolute levels be helpful?
7/ While it is known to be rare is Almaas saying non-physical beings have zero chance of enlightenment? Isn’t there a sort of body, sense organs, and capacity of knowing and discrimination for some #nonhumans?
8/ If consciousness is pure how can and does consciousness express itself with the perception of defilement? Doesn’t consciousness and presence change? What about clinging to consciousness?
9/ Why couldn’t (a) soul change? Why use the analogy of an organism since an organism changes? How do some of these concepts relate to jhana absorption? Is mastery possible with never ending learning? How can there be a true, complete human being when possibilities are endless?
10/ Most of these questions seek to clarify his teachings because without such innerstanding initiating a more general inquiry is unskillful.