Dharma teachings relate directly to experience and insight. The teachings do not require a religious or theoretical belief system.
This makes Dharma Inquiry an essential feature of the teachings alongside ethics, mindfulness, meditation, love, wisdom and liberation.
Inquiry can take the form of questions related to experiences, concerns and explorations of life on Earth.
Anybody can leave their seat in the meditation hall and sit beside me at the front. She, he or other may have a question or a specific area of interest related to teachings/practices/daily life and first-hand experience.
In this session, Dharma Inquiry refers to a dialogue with Christopher. I often ask a participant several questions and also respond to questions.
An Inquiry does not include theories, abstract ideas, speculations or generalisations about the future..
The Inquiry offers mindful/meditative listening for present. An Inquiry can generate an insight or understanding for questioner, listeners and teacher.
The participant or myself can say ‘Thank You’ to bring the Inquiry to a close.
The Form in the Meditation Hall
An Inquiry session occurs around three times in a week in the evening during a residential insight meditation retreat. The sessions last from 60 mins – 75 mins. I give an outline of the Inquiry before it gets underway.
I will usually lead three or four 1-1s during this period.
There is a primary motivation behind the inquiry, namely to contribute to insight, understanding or further reflection after the inter-view.
People in the Dharma hall listen outwardly and inwardly. The meditators listen to the dialogue and also listen to their inner responses – interest, agitation, thoughts, appreciations etc. The audience observes noble silence.
A question or discussion in the 1-1 may last five or 10 minutes or 30 minutes or more.
The signal for closure is Thank You. The participant or myself can say Thank You. The person then returns to their meditation cushion or seat,
There are two minutes of silence. I then invite another person to come and sit with me at the front. I encourage gender alternation,
It is not the intention with the Dharma Inquiry for the two of us to come to a comfortable conclusion. A participant may find his or her mind shaken up in the dialogue, come to a deep realisation or neither. Listeners also can come to insight and understanding.
The participant or listeners can talk with myself later in the retreat about the 1-1.
The Inquiry sessions have taken place during the retreats since around 1990.The participant decides if he or she wants me to record the 1-1. All participants have agreed to the recording. Transcriptions do not reveal personal information about the speaker.