Once a Teaching Monk* from Peace Revolution project said: In Eastern philosophy, everything is about the answer. It doesn´t matter much the question, what matters is the answer. At that very moment I thought: In Western philosophy, it is totally the opposite – think of Jaspers or Heidegger, to name a few -, what matters the most is the question (the thinking itself, not the conclusion).
I didn’t know how to continue with this thread in my mind, but I quickly realized that there was no wrong or right approach to this, but rather sometimes we need the right answer, and sometimes we need the right question.
Life, Love and Death
When something happens in our lives, when a change comes, when someone important to us moves abroad, or we get a promotion at work, or we move in with our partner, or we lose something meaningful, or we become parents, we start making some important questions, and looking for some accurate answers. If we can categorize these questions, I dare to say that they are mostly about life, love and death. What is most interesting: although we may develop and learn from others some conclusions about these key themes, they are never a “closed case”, they re-open once in a while in our lives, and we get the chance of deepening our understanding of them. They are topics in progress throughout our entire life (why? I´m not sure).
What we think about love in our first romantic relationship is pretty different from what we think about it once we commit to a long-term relationship, for example. At the beginning, love is all magic, happiness, receiving only beautiful and good things etc., and then we understand that this also implies responsibilities, perseverance, courage, work, patience, acceptance, giving more. We thrive on our relationships. And later on, we realize that even the most delicious and sweetest fruit, before being ready for harvesting, was bitter.
These topics open themselves as we live and experience our life. We may never ask questions about life until we stop and observe our own existence because we are bored or lacking future perspective or plans; and we probably never read anything about relationships and love until we break up with someone that really matters to us. These questions and answers are key for us, they determine our direction in life, what is essential and what, at the end of the day, inhabits our innermost places.
Refuge in stillness
And although there is no point in rushing into these processes as everyone experiences them in their own “right time”, meditation practice offers a great moment to give to ourselves enough space and time to deepen and ripen the juicy fruit that life, love, and death have been preparing for us deep inside. It is in the stillness of the mind where the safest balance is restored and inner peace found. Of course, talking about the stillness of the mind sounds a lot for those who experience too much of everything and nothing of peace when meditating, but after some time of practice, one becomes accustomed to the presence of wandering thoughts and distractions and stop paying attention to those things (at least for a while). This doesn´t mean that they disappear, you’ve simply learned more about your own mind and know how and when to let go of the thoughts and distractions.
This stillness, then, this soft inner peace, is the perfect environment for all our essential questions and answers, to find refuge for our innermost feelings and thoughts. It changes us, it makes us real and mature grown-ups ready to experience everything again, this time, more prepared, more open, with more heart than fear.
“Whatever penetrates subtly becomes influential – not by acting on situations or people to change their nature, but by becoming part of their nature and acting in them. Because it never acts as an antagonist, it never creates resistance and permeates everywhere.” I-Ching with clarity.
Credits for the image @oyku.goksen84
*Get to know the Teaching Monks here