Inquiry

The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough-mindedness of the believers. But it does not indicate, if a demonstration were needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry.

In every step of the inquiry we are compelled to feel and acknowledge the immeasurable disproportion between the size of the object and the capacity of the human mind. We may strive to abstract the notions of time, of space, and of matter, which so closely adhere to all the perceptions of our experimental knowledge. But as soon as we presume to reason of infinite substance, of spiritual generation, as often as we deduce any positive conclusions from a negative idea, we are involved in darkness, perplexity, and inevitable contradiction.

There are three parts in truth: first, the inquiry, which is the wooing of it; secondly, the knowledge of it, which is the presence of it; and thirdly, the brief, which is the enjoyment of it.

Mindful inquiry can heal low self-esteem, for the simple reason that a low self-estimation is really a wrong calculation, a misperception of reality.

The spirit of inquiry is fundamental to living mindfully... Inquiry doesn’t mean looking for answers, especially quick answers which come out of superficial thinking. It means asking without expecting answers, just pondering the question, carrying the wondering with you.

Instead of encouraging the student to devote himself to his studies for the sake of studying, instead of encouraging in him a real love for his subject and for inquiry, he is encouraged to study for the sake of his personal career; he is led to acquire only such knowledge as is serviceable in getting him over the hurdles which he must clear for the sake of his advancement.

Even if the Universe existed for man’s sake and man existed for the purpose of serving God, one must still ask: What is the end of serving God? He does not become more perfect if all His creatures serve Him. Nor would he lose anything if nothing existed beside Him. It might perhaps be replied that the service of God is not intended for God’s perfection, but for our own. Then, however, the question arises: What is the object of our being perfect? Pressing the inquiry as to the purpose of Creation, we must at last arrive at the answer: it was the will of God. Logic as well as tradition prove clearly that the Universe does not exist for man’s sake, but that all things in it exist each for its own sake.

The data from indigenous science are not used to control the forces of nature; instead, the data tell us ways and means of accommodating nature... The purpose of indigenous science is to maintain balance... Indigenous science is holistic, drawing on all senses including the spiritual and psychic realm. Indigenous science collapses time ands space, with the result that our fields of participation and inquiry extend into and overlap with past and present.

It is by losing himself in the objective, in inquiry, creation, and craft, that a man becomes something.

Addictive spirituality creates dependence in the practitioner (frequently to authoritarian leaders and their communities), an avoidance of personal responsibility, and loss of individuality through social controls, such as fear, guilt, or greed for power or bliss. It also tends to suppress rational inquiry into the teachings. Healthy spirituality, on the other hand, supports the practitioner's freedom, autonomy, self-esteem, and social responsibility. It is based on experience, rather than belief or dogma; it does not create idols out of spiritual teachers; and it empowers students by emphasizing democratic forms of learning and teaching, rather than the authoritarian model that has dominated spiritual life for millennia.

A wise man's question is half the answer... Inquiry is man's finest quality.

All calm inquiry conducted among those who have their main principles of judgment in common, leads, if not to an approximation of views, yet, at least, to an increase of sympathy.

A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.

For the total development of the human being, solitude as a means of cultivating sensitivity becomes a necessity. One has to know what it means to be alone, what it is to meditate, what it is to die; and the implications of solitude, of meditation, of death, can be known only by seeking them out. These implications cannot be taught, they must be learnt. One can indicate, but learning by what is indicated is not the experiencing of solitude or meditation. To experience what is solitude and what is meditation, one must be in in a state of inquiry; only a mind that is in a state of inquiry is capable of learning. But when inquiry is suppressed by previous knowledge, or by the authority and experience of another, then learning becomes mere imitation, and imitation causes a human being to repeat what is learnt without experiencing it.

Faith in the possibilities of continued and rigorous inquiry does not limit access to truth to any channel or scheme of things. It does not first say that truth is universal and then add there is but one road to it.

Seeking is a necessary preliminary to finding, and one who cannot endure the hardship of inquiry cannot expect to harvest the fruit of knowledge.

An immense field for inquiry is opened once the organic ties of social orientation are followed up into muscle, nerve and skeleton. Not only individual development or abnormality can be followed through the soma but ever wider cultural and racial attitude development.

Down the millennia of its existence, Hinduism has made a priceless contribution to the collective religious life of mankind through the remarkable findings of her many brilliant mystics and philosophers, as set forth in a voluminous literature. Perhaps, however, her most significant contribution to the universal body of religious inquiry is the persistent, unshakable belief that union with the Divine is attainable while one is still on earth. Moreover, any man in India is at liberty to pursue salvation after his own fashion with no danger of finding himself at some point branded as heretic. Indeed, heresy in Hinduism is virtually impossible, for as the authoritative Upanishads firmly state: “Reality of One though sages call it by different names.

The inquiry method is motivated by Postman and Weingartner's recognition that good learners and sound reasoners center their attention and activity on the dynamic process of inquiry itself, not merely on the end product of static knowledge. They write that certain characteristics are common to all good learners saying that all good learners have:
Self-confidence in their learning ability - Pleasure in problem solving - A keen sense of relevance - Reliance on their own judgment over other people's or society's - No fear of being wrong - No haste in answering - Flexibility in point of view - Respect for facts, and the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion - No need for final answers to all questions, and comfort in not knowing an answer to difficult questions rather than settling for a simplistic answer.

In an attempt to instill students with these qualities and behaviors, a teacher adhering to the inquiry method in pedagogy must behave very differently from a traditional teacher. Postman and Weingartner suggest that inquiry teachers have the following characteristics :
They avoid telling students what they "ought to know".
They talk to students mostly by questioning, and especially by asking divergent questions.
They do not accept short, simple answers to questions.
They encourage students to interact directly with one another, and avoid judging what is said in student interactions.
They do not summarize students' discussion.
They do not plan the exact direction of their lessons in advance, and allow it to develop in response to students' interests.
Their lessons pose problems to students.
They gauge their success by change in students' inquiry behaviors (with the above characteristics of "good learners" as a goal).