Opinion: Discovering the Right Questions

Discovering the Right Questions

The Sixth Core Principle of the CAC: Life is about discovering the right questions more than having the right answers. Richard Rohr from the Centre for Action and Contemplation expands on this counterintuitive wisdom:

This principle keeps us on the path of ongoing discernment, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10). The key concept here is the contrast between the words “discovering” and “having.” A discerning and inquiring spirit will make us discoverers in touch with our hidden unconscious and the deeper truth. A glib “I have the answers” spirit makes us into protectors of clichés. Answers are wonderful when they are true and keep us on the human and spiritual path. But answers are not wonderful when they become something we hold as an ego possession, allowing us to be arrogant, falsely self-assured, and closed down individuals.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways. . . . As high as the heavens are from the earth so are my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9). The depth and mystery of God leaves all of us as perpetual searchers and seekers, always novices and beginners. It is the narrow and dark way of faith. “Search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you,” says Jesus (Luke 11:9). There is something inherently valuable about an attitude of spiritual curiosity and persistent “knocking.”

The ego is formed by contraction; the soul is formed by expansion. The ego pulls into itself by comparing, competing, and separating itself from others: “I am not like that,” it says. The soul, however, does exactly the opposite: “I am that.” (Tat Tvam Asi, as the Hindus say). It sees itself in God, the other, flowers and trees, animals, and even the enemy: similarity instead of separateness. It participates in the human dilemma instead of placing itself above and beyond all tensions. The long journey of transformation leads us to ask new questions about our own goodness, and where goodness really lies; to recognize our own complicity with evil, and where evil really lies. It is humiliating.

Only those led by the Spirit into ever deeper seeing, hearing, and surrendering—spiritual seekers and self-questioners—will fall into the hands of the living God. This will always be “a narrow gate and a hard road” that “only a few will walk” (Matthew 7:14).

We want to encourage those few and invite many more on a journey of seeking God. In the sixth century, St. Benedict said the only requirement for a monk’s admission is that they “truly seek God.” [1] Not security or status, not education, not roles and titles, not a portfolio of answers, but simply and humbly seeking God. Spiritual seeking will make a person be a perpetual and humble student instead of a contented careerist, a quester rather than a settler, an always impatient, yearning, and desirous lover. I will bet on such spiritual seekers any day. They are on the real and only quest.

Fr Richard Rohr

Thursday, October 13, 2022



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