21Jan

Live the Questions

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, Letter Four

Rain and solitude…a good combination for reflection, quiet thought, stillness of emotion. I am in that space of seeking. I seek relief from pain. I seek answers to questions. I seek light in the darkness. I seek a barely visible deer trail on the forest floor, leading out of the wilderness. I seek myself.

It is easy to fall prey to the false belief that one answer will come, an answer simple and direct, which will change everything. It is tempting to look for a pre-packaged, bottled, instructions-included solution. And yet I know that what is made to order is not made for me.

Rilke says: Try to love the questions themselves. There is no sense expecting that my seeking will lead me anywhere, not any time soon. What I must do, to follow the advice of the great poet, is to love the seeking, enjoy the quest.

Live the questions now. What better way to say it? Be there then. Live here now. In the pain, in the emptiness, in the suffering, in the middle of nowhere. When I had my first dokusan, and tearfully exclaimed, “I have been seeking a Zen path for so long,” Darlene Cohen said to me, “You are already there.”

Thank goodness for teachers. Thank goodness for poets.

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