Photo by Takuin Minamoto
I don't really give exercises, and I do not prescribe fixes for illusory problems. But I thought it might be of some use to go into what is inquiry. This will be a relatively quick post, as we can go into it further in the comments and flesh it out from there.
For this inquiry, we'll take on a subject that has tightly held beliefs. In fact, this is what one may want to look for in their own inquiry; the things you do not want to disbelieve. These are the sentries that guard the most precious gems.
When this question is asked, pay attention to what happens. Nearly everyone will have their own answer, and let me tell you, this answer is of no significance. What you are doing is sitting with the process. You are seeing this movement, how these answers arise.
This is where you have to find your own way. I could tell you a million things to do with these answers that arise, but it would be the wrong prescription. You must find out how this moves within you, on your own. I will go into finer detail in the comments, but for now, take the first question and go with it.
Here is the first question:
What is consciousness?
As this question is asked, what happens within you? Do you instantly have the "answer"? Do you immediately "know" what it is? Have you read books on consciousness, memorized what sounded good to you, then spew it out as an answer to a question? The activity described here is useless.
Inquiry has nothing to do with what you believe, or what you have memorized. It has nothing to do with YOU. It is an exploration of the moment at hand. There may be a topic or subject to one's inquiry, but it cannot be questioned from a fixed conclusion. If that is all you are doing, you are not questioning at all, but merely holding the subject at arm's length to see how it fits into what you already believe.
Everyone has their own ideas about Consciousness; what it is, how it works, the various levels therein, etc. I am not interested in any of that. I am interested in seeing the thing without any of those ideas.
Here is a second question:
Do you only know consciousness through the ideas you already have?
If that is true, what is consciousness? What is its importance?
If you answer this second question with "NO," how did the answer arise? How did the certainty arise? What is this center that is making these decisions?
(These questions may seem to differ from the point of origin, but these things can move in any direction. I want you to see the freedom in all of this.)
If you answer "YES," go into it. How did it arise? It is all in seeing the movements that arise.
Is There Actually an Answer?
There is an "answer" to these questions. But that word is in quotes because it is an answer free from certainty. It is not an answer one gives because they "know". It is an answer arising from clarity beyond the need to be right; clarity beyond decision; clarity beyond the clamorous self.
There is inquiry that can get to the bottom of all these questions, and we may go into that in the comments, as well. But this particular exercise is all about seeing how the answers arise.
But let it come as it will. Allow yourself to be carried away in whatever direction it pulls you.
Bomb away in the comments everyone. I am not here to tell you how it is, or to say you are wrong. Tell us all how these things have occurred to you. I may question it further, but it is only to be clear as to what is being said.
(Side Note: I had not thought of it, but you could easily exchange "consciousness" in these questions for many other topics. Give it a try if you like, and remain flexible with all of this.)