The following questions are not meant to be answered, necessarily. It is rather the exploration of these questions that generates insight, removes us from narrow ways of thinking, and offers a bigger context in which to consider the details of our lives.
What is Mind?
If we look to nature, we find a striking, dynamic, and mysterious unfolding. Consider the transformation of the caterpillar to the butterfly. The acorn to the oak tree. Sedimentary rock to metamorphic. The change in seasons. The development of a fertilized egg into a full-grown woman. The decay of a fallen tree into nutrient-rich soil that in turn gives rise to seedlings.
Transformation upholds Nature’s diversity and vibrance. Now replace “Nature” with the word “Mind.” Not “your” mind. This Mind is not attached to a self. It is not restricted to what we call inside or outside, but present throughout all life. In meditation, we are interested in seeing into the nature of Mind. What is the nature of mind? Ancient texts suggest that Mind in its natural state is empty yet luminous.
How are Mind and Body Connected?
The ways we think influence how we feel, and vice versa. How can we begin to understand the conversations taking place between mind and body, and draw from that understanding to engage mindful action? What does body awareness have to do with emotional intelligence? What do thoughts have to do with sensations, health, and healing? How can meditation and movement meditation establish greater understanding between body and mind?
What is the Self?
Human identity is often based in a very limited concept of the “self,” and as a result, our efforts to change are often like a grinding away at something—a “rearranging” or “assembling” which is not quite the same as transformation. Change is the natural course of all materials and living things, but by attaching the narrow self's agendas to our actions, we get in our own way and come out of accord with the patterns that support connection and life. Thus it is important to ask, what is the self? Where do I begin and end? If I take in oxygen produced by the ocean and trees, and they receive my carbon dioxide, can we be considered to be of the same body?
What is it Like to be Somebody Else?
Everyday communication is based on assumptions and ideas that come from one's own subjective experience. How can we begin to empathize with another person's experiences if we can't share their viewpoint, and how does creativity play into this? How can reminding ourselves that we don't really know save us from being reactive? When can we catch ourselves saying one thing when we mean something else? Can we learn to read between the lines?
What is the Pattern that Connects?
What is the pattern that connects all life? Are there ways to move into connection and alignment with the wisdom built into ecological systems? To initiate the kind of deep change that redirects the courses of our lives and world into resonance, we need to find pathways into the source of the patterns of nature. As we come to understand what is at play within us and all around us, we can begin to make informed decisions.
How do we Care for the Conditions of Life?
Inquiring into and being present with the body, heart, and mind begins a process of reconnection with that which is needed for living beings to thrive. In a world of fabricated value, we need to experience a variety of forms of awareness to arrive at insights that allow us to transcend limiting perceptions. When we make an effort to care for ourselves and for our planet, are we able to do it skillfully and without attachment? What would that look like?
Which Way Should I Go?
Your journey has not been decided and it is not fixed. Options exist. As you reach in, all kinds of unexpected pathways begin to stretch out in front of you. You have the opportunity to look inward, see what is, and see where your heart takes you. What makes your soul stir?
Today, the endangered butterfly emerging from its chrysalis is both our point of inquiry and our call to action.