Attempting to solve the unsolvable

Do you ever ask yourself seemingly unanswerable questions? Sure you do. We all do!

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“What is the purpose of life?”

And so on…

Sometimes such questions are personal to us, and the lack of an answer can be quite frustrating, especially if we’ve been struggling to find a satisfactory answer for a long time.

For instance,

“Why can’t I stop myself from overeating?”

“What’s next for me?”

Zen Buddhism seeks to solve problems that have eluded the rational mind by engaging one’s intuition by way of the koan. A koan is a question, statement, or story that works on the other-than-conscious mind to bring us clarity. This method can be personalized, to help each of us answer “on a different level” seemingly unanswerable questions, ones perhaps we’ve struggled with to no avail.

A dear relative of mine has had to cope with the loss of her beloved husband. She wants to move to a nurturing environment in another state, but cannot decide the best place. Is it near her children, who live apart from one another? If so, which one? If not near one of them, then to where should she move?

Since her conscious mind has not been able to come up with a solution, I suggested that she write down on a piece of paper the question in such a way that speaks to her dilemma, such as in the form:

“Where is home for me?”

I suggested that she keep this paper with her at all times, even at her bedside while she sleeps, and ask herself this question several times a day. The question is to be treated as a meditation, so no straining for an answer need or should occur. Perhaps the form of the question, or the question, itself, will change on its own at some point, to one that is more suitable.

Whatever the case may be, this method of uncovering answers within us is one worth trying. Whether an answer comes in one day, one week, one month, or not at all… that is not the goal. The only goal is to ask it, to “be” with it, and just see what happens…

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