Opening up or closing down

Again, it can seem obvious:

How I receive life opens it up for me, or closes it down.

And that is true for spiritual practices and traditions as well.

When they are taken as questions and an invitation for exploration, they may open up the world.

For instance, precepts can be a wonderful opportunity for exploration.

What happens when I encounter the precept? When I try to follow it? When I can’t follow it? Do I notice the symptoms of triggered beliefs? What do I find when I investigate those beliefs?

What are some of the layers I find when I work with a precept? What are some of the ways I can understand and apply it in daily life? How does this change over time?

Teachings can also be seen as questions and invitation for exploration.

Can I find what it points to here and now in immediacy? In what ways is it valid for me? What happens if I take it on as a belief? What happens if I use it as a practical guideline? In what situations does it seem more helpful as a guideline? In what situations does it seem less helpful?

And the same with any (other) practice.

What happens when I engage with this tool? Are there other ways to use it that seems more helpful? What practical pointers do more experienced folks have? What happens when I apply those?

When meet anything as a question and invitation for exploration, it can open up the world for me. It is an opportunity to go outside of what is familiar to me, including familiar roles and views.

And when I take it as a statement, as something to give me a sense of certainty and solid ground, as a way to deal with (resisted) fear, it can (temporarily and apparently) close the world down for me. And that is yet another invitation for noticing and exploring.

Trigger: Noticing how teachers and students in different traditions sometimes take ritual, precepts, teachings and practices in a way that seems to close down their world instead of opening it up. For instance when it becomes more about following tradition than open inquiry.

There is nothing wrong in following tradition, of course. Most of the time it can be very helpful. There is a lot of wisdom and experience embedded there.

It is more about how we receive it, relate to it. How we use the tool of tradition. Do we use it to find a sense of security? Or do we use it as a question, and invitation for open inquiry?



  • opening up or closing down
    • precepts, rules
      • can be used to notice the mind, as questions, explorations – open up
      • or from fear or mindless application of tradition – closing down
    • stories, teachings
      • can be used as questions, invitation for exploration, with curiosity – open up
      • or from fear, as crutches, truths, place to find solid ground or safety – closing down
    • life situations of any type
      • meet with receptivity, curiosity, interest in going outside of familiar views – open up
      • meet with a sense of certainty, knowing, fixed views – close down

If I meet a situation with curiosity, receptivity, willingness to go outside of what is familiar to me, reminding myself I don’t know, the world can open up.

And if I meet it with a sense of certainty, knowing, fixed views, blind fear, it closes down.

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