questions

“Inviting questions is more valuable than supplying answers.”

In a world where we are craving for answers that provide us with a certainty and assuredness, our addiction to rational coherence and predictability has resulted in a loss of romantic idealism and the need to trust in the enigma of mystery. We mistakenly think that if we get all our questions succinctly answered then life will be so much less complicated or convoluted. 

Religion and Science, the systematic studies of the physical and spiritual structures of the world have historically attempted to provide humanity with the answers we need so that we would feel more in control of our lives and comfortable in our propositional truths. Unfortunately it has resulted in a dualistic approach to life where being right or wrong has become the defining marker and those who don't agree with the orthodox understanding are labelled 'heretics'. The etymology of the word heretic is 'the ability to choose' and when this is demonised and shunned we subtly start to lose our love for inquisitiveness and curiosity, for fear of becoming slightly heterodox.

'We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled'

Questions are the driver behind our need to grow and mature, to understand more about our makeup and place in the world. Questions invariably invoke the possibility of an answer, but only in a partial sense. They remind us that we will only ever know in part, and completeness is not something we arrive at but something that comes to us when the time is right. Completeness is a life long journey that leads us into new states of consciousness.

Receiving answers to our questions is an ongoing dialogue of participation in ‘otherness’ or ‘blind (ignorant) trust’ as the ancients concluded. Blind trust reminds us that we cannot do life on our own, that we will need to lean into the universal sharing (vicarious participation) of human and trans-human understanding in order to find our place in the world.

French philosopher Pierre Teilhard Chardin coined the phrase ‘trans-human’ in his 1949 book The Future of Mankind, in order to describe the idea that we can transcend ourselves and participate in a new way of being that the divine guides us into.

The answers to my questions can often be indirectly glimpsed in the collective participation with others and otherness, mutual interdependence that is both immanent and transcendent.The transcendental nature of answers hides in the complexity of mystery, our invitation to explore an evolving relationship with the sacred nature of TRUTHFULNESS. Religion reminds us that God (however you wish to metaphor that word) is the essence of TRUTH that answers us at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. 

In the  forward of the book 'The Questions of Jesus' written by Father John Dear, Fr. Rohr writes:  "In the realm of soul and spirit, there are not really answers as much as there are answering persons.  I am told, for example, that Jesus only directly answers 3 of the 183 questions that he himself is asked in the four Gospels! (I will let you find them!) This is totally surprising to people who have grown up assuming that the very job description of religion is to give people answers and to resolve peoples’ dilemmas. Apparently this is not Jesus’ understanding of the function of religion because he operates very differently.  Jesus either keeps silent as with Pilate (John 19:9), returns with another question as with the coin of Caesar (Matthew 22:19), or gives an illustration, as with the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:30f).  When the Pharisees ask for a sign from him (Mark 8:12) he out-rightly refuses to respond.  He has painfully learned, no doubt, that any attempt to interact with an entrenched position of resentment or ego-fortified suspicion will normally only be used to dig the trench deeper and further fortify the argument. Many times silence, quiet prayer and genuine love for the opponent are the only answers, even though you will be judged harshly in the moment and by any observers.”

If we are to be a truely spiritual people then we need to get better at asking better questions, as this may actually satisfy our incessant enquiry and need to know. Maybe the answers we need are hiding in the new questions that need to be asked, in order that the previous questions that demanded answers will no longer seem to matter as much. Now that was a mind bender???

'Questions are the new answers’

When someone  or something attempts to answer your question, they are at best only giving you their perspective or point of view. While that may be momentarily sufficient and bring temporal comfort, there will come a time when it will cease to be satisfactory, a further reminder that the cycle of enquiry is an innate part of the human psyche hence why the need to know will forever be the motivation that promotes our maturation as a human race.

Always asking questions. We’re always asking questions    - Howard Jones