‘A sixth quality of spiritual maturity is questioning. Rather than adopting a philosophy or following blindly a great teacher or compelling path, we come to recognize that we must see for ourselves. This quality of questioning is called by the Buddha Dhamma-vicaya, our own investigation into the truth. It is the willingness to discover what is so, without imitation or without following the wisdom of others. Someone once told Picasso that he ought to make pictures of things the way they are – objective pictures. When Picasso said he did not understand, the man produced a picture of his wife from his wallet and said, “There, you see, that is a picture of how she really is.” Picasso looked at it and said, “She’s rather small, isn’t she? And flat?” Like Picasso, we must see things for ourselves. In spiritual maturity we find a great sense of autonomy, not as a reaction to authority, but based on a heartfelt recognition that we, too, like the Buddha, can awaken. Mature spirituality has a profound democratic quality in which all individuals are empowered to discover that which is sacred and liberating for themselves.
This questioning combines an open-mindedness, the “don’t know” mind of Zen, with a “discriminating wisdom” that can separate what is useful from what is bad, that keeps the eyes open to learn. With an open mind we are always learning.
Our questioning allows us to use the great wisdom of traditions, to learn from teachers and to be part of communities, yet to stay in touch with ourselves, to see the truth and to speak the truth with a great respect for our own integrity and our own awakening. This investigation may not bring us to be more sure of ourselves, but it can allow us to be more honest with ourselves, and in this, our spiritual practice becomes filled with interest and aliveness. The Dalai Lama, when asked about his current life in exile, spoke of this when he replied, “Sometimes I think this Dalai Lama is the hardest life of all – but of course it is the most interesting.”’ Jack Kornfield