Five Questions to Save Your Soul
Self inquiry is an art, and useful when based on useful presuppositions.
- “What is possible?” presupposes that there are possibilities. When having faced adversity, and feeling depressed, having difficulty envisioning a future or anything good in it (this works well for yourself, your loved ones, or the world), this question switches your attention from the disastrous past and the painful moment, to open your heart and mind to possibilities previously hidden from your awareness.
- “What do I need?” is a great question to ask when in the midst of an intense negative emotion. The question presupposes that you need something, and it will help you redirect your mind from the pain to the need it points to, which is the first necessary step towards purposeful action towards self-fulfillment.
- “What do I want to accomplish by doing this…x…action?” This question presupposes that you are acting on purpose, and if you weren’t acting on purpose, but unconsciously acting out of habit or reactive response, the question will help you set a clear intent for your action and make it purposeful. In my experience this leads to a different experience than when remaining unconscious in our behaviour.
- “What is needed of me?” is a question I find useful when contracted in self-absorption (what, moi?!). The contracted, separate self is where the suffering happens at the highest intensity. This question presupposes that a) you are part of something bigger than your small self and b) you are needed to contribute something uniquely yours in this something bigger than the self. Finding your purpose makes all the suffering worthwhile and all your battles worth fighting.
- “How can I turn this…x…(pain, adversity, suffering) into a resource to enrich me and others?” How many times I have asked myself this question! This inquiry is the equivalent of the Münchausen Baron pulling himself out of the mud by the hair (if you’re old enough, you might know the story). This is my ‘go to’ crisis question, when suffering is intense or even overwhelming, because it presupposes that there is some kind of goodness latent in the crap that’s been happening to me, that all crap is compostable and gardens can be metaphorically grown on top of it.
Do you have any useful questions that have been helping you along?