Guided Inquiry vs. Talks

After exploring various forms of inquiry, in particular Big Mind, Byron Katie inquiry and headlessness, I see a tendency to sometimes wonder why not more spiritual teachers are recommending it for, and doing it with, their students.

I went to an intensive in the bay area a couple of weeks ago, and spent most of the day – from 9am to 9pm, listening to the head teacher talking. It is OK as I allowed me to find what he talked about in my own experience, or clarify it further for myself – beyond his words. And that is a form of inquiry in itself. But it is also just one person talking and fifty or sixty others listening, for hours on end.

The contrast is dramatic to what they are doing at Kanzeon Zen Center these days, where the teachers use the Big Mind process actively during the dharma talk periods. The dharma talks are not one person talking and everyone else listening, but one person facilitating (the teacher) and everybody else weaving together the talk, from their own immediate realizations in the present. It is juicy. Rich. Engaging. Alive in the most profound way.

A position

This is coming from what I find juiciness in right now, which is various forms of inquiry. And I also see that I have made it into a position, a fixed view. I have generalize what is an advice for myself (inquiry) to a should for everyone else. I am making it right and everything and everybody else wrong. I am putting up blinders for myself. I filter everything through a story. I am not receptive to what is anymore.


He should use inquiry (instead of just talking about it).

  1. Yes (seems true. It would at least be much more juicy for me.)
  2. No (only an opinion, cannot know that it is absolutely true.)
  3. Annoyed with him talking and talking, while it could be so much more juicy. Judgment of the teaching strategy, that it is not as effective as it could be. Arrogance, in thinking that I know another way that is more effective, that goes deeper, that gets people more engaged, that is more alive, that helps people explore it for themselves instead of listening to someone talking. Thinking that I am partly wasting my time. Wanting to be somewhere else. >> Sense of separation, to the one talking, to what he says and speaks from, to everybody else in the room, to myself and my own experience. I cut myself off from all of this, from life as it unfolds in the present, when I believe that thought.
  4. OK with what is. Clarity. Enjoy what is, in whatever form it unfolds. Free to explore what he is saying in my own immediate experience. Free to enjoy it.
  5. (a) He should not use inquiry. (Yes, that is as true or truer. He may not know how to facilitate the group in inquiry that way. It may not be his strength. It may not be his desire. It may not be what he sees as most effective. It may not be what many in this particular group really need and are looking for. And in any case, it is not what is – and reality always trumps any opinions or wishes.)

    (b) I should use inquiry. (Yes, this is definitely more true. I can inquiry into my own experience as he talks, making it into my own inquiry. And I can explore inquiry on my own, or with other groups, when I am not at this intensive as well. The advice is clearly for me, both there and then and also in this period of my life.)

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