Many of us are confused when we first learn about inquiry–the tendency is to turn our inquiry outward, to question about the meaning of life, or our beliefs, in relation to other peoples’. But inquiry really means turning around, and looking at the source of our experience. It takes a while to get the hang of it, because it is completely counter to what society teaches us.
My thirteenth summer, I went to a ranch horse camp in Colorado for two months–delicious fun. Soon after I returned home, my mother called me to her desk, and pointed to the eight letters I had written from camp–a Sunday requirement before we could eat dinner. “Your sentences all begin with ‘I,'” she said. She had circled all the “I”s with dark red pencil. “This is an ugly sign of self-centeredness.”
But how to express the experience I was having at camp without using the personal pronoun? I was dumbfounded–and humiliated–by her judgment.
Fifty years later, when I was introduced to inquiry, the instructions were exactly the opposite from my upbringing. “Look to the source of your experience,” my teacher said. “Stay with yourself. Don’t leave home.”
Initially this was very uncomfortable. I felt my mother–now dead–shaking her head, and her finger, at me. I smile, thinking of all her social training washing quietly down the drain.
© Amrita Skye Blaine, 2013
4 thoughts on “inquiry”
re: I smile, thinking of all her social training washing quietly down the drain.
….I sure didn’t “smile” as I loudly flushed and continue to loudly flush as much of my parent’s garbage down the toilet as I possibly can. I solute you for standing up to the crap your hopelessly shamed parent(s) dumped on you while you were defenseless. Psychology teaches many similar techniques and methods to get rid of harmful conditioning/programming lest its dumped onto the next generation.
I love it..”…washing quietly down the drain.”
I will use that metaphor more often.
Dear Skye — This one is an oh-my blog. I didn’t know about your summer camp letters, but what poignancy is in your telling of it. Yes, I do so recognize my training to judge my “I thisses” and my “I thats” — a continual embarrassment for me when I get back to the quiet of my hermit home — but then you put it together with the paragraph about inquiry, and it comes in razor sharp.
So here’s an “I” — I was intending to go to DC today, driving with a friend who also has a daughter (and an already born grandchild) there. It makes more sense to go later, as Beat has been there for a week and will have done the to-do list, so I will go in April and have my first “in person” (sort of) meeting with two wee GIRLS! Beat is delighted. Bless that man, who for so long wanted no children! Tegan admits to having wanted at least one boy and I suspect is a little less comfortable with the physical part of this all than she says outright. Me? How AMAZING and WONDERFUL is this!!! Life.
I am spoken to by this.