Curiosity Saved the Cat

Indiana JonesThe basic instruction is to make friends with yourself – to be honest with yourself and kind.  This begins with the willingness to stay present whenever you experience uneasiness.  As these feeling arise, rather than running away, you lean into them.  Instead of trying to get rid of thoughts and feelings, you become curious about them.  – Pema Chodron

The unanswered questions are not nearly as dangerous as the unquestioned answers.  – David Hayward

Faith.  What does it mean?  Is it closing our eyes as we come to the edge of the cliff with an Indian Jones-like assurance that something will prevent us from meeting our doom beyond the precipice?  Is it throwing out the age-old adage that “God works in mysterious ways” when we come across something that we can’t wrap our minds around or reconcile with what makes sense?  This is the way that many people would define faith, but I’ll put my chips elsewhere.

I prefer to look at faith as something that gives reassurance despite the fact that something seems amiss.  It is not an assurance that we are always right and therefore have no need to question our convictions or the foundations that they rest upon.  Faith, then, is not the antithesis of curiosity, but rather the guiding principle.  That is, if we have a genuine faith, then it is a faith in something much bigger than us.  Something that guides all of the principles of the universe and that we can sometimes be wrong about.  This is why we evolve as human beings.  As Chodron says above, it’s necessary to look at our beliefs and worldview and test them.  Sometimes things don’t seem right and at those times, instead of shoving the cognitive dissonance under the existential rug to keep whispering at you like the tell-tale heart, tear up the rug and see what’s underneath.

We can live our lives in a way that is “safe” because we have everything figured out.  As long as everything works within the framework of our understanding, we will be at ease and have our beliefs reinforced.  If something seems amiss, however, we generally lash out and blame those who upset the applecart dismissing them as heretics or anarchists.  Real life, I think, should work the other way around.  Instead of being uneasy when our cosmological understanding is challenged, let’s be concerned when we think we have it all right.  Don’t be afraid when something seems amiss and there is more to process.  Robert Browning was right when he said, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  If you think you have it all figured out, however, well, be afraid . . . be very afraid.


2 Responses to “Curiosity Saved the Cat”

  1. I can really relate to your comment on faith. It is not something static and resolute but a guide. The guidance or our interpretation of the guidance sometimes knocks us off course and lost in the middle of nowhere. It is in the adjusting and finding our way back to the main road where new information is found for future journeys. But it evolves and changes and may and probably will go off course again in the future because new information needs to be fed in to update our guidance. Overlooking that guidance is a loving God who is watching over us on that journey. Thanks for sharing.

  2. John Lovestrand Says:

    This is great stuff B!

    Robby lent me Don Miguel Ruiz’s book Mastery of Love last Sunday, and I just finished it last night.

    It’s a great read, along the lines of his prior The Four Agreements, and in particular I got a kick of the part toward the end where he provides three rather provocative pieces of (related) advice:

    Do not believe me.
    Do not believe yourself.
    Do not believe anyone else.

    Beneath each lies the need to question and challenge, and not just accept as fact that which I tell you, or your mind thinks is the case, or everyone else assumes to be reality.

    Perhaps a bit more jarring than the more subtle encouragement to “lean in” per Chodron quote above, but on the same skeptical (in the positive sense of the word) cosmic wavelength.

    I love the Hayward quote above too, and don’t recall having heard it or seen in written before. “Unquestioned answers…” indeed! What a powerful turn of a phrase.

    I also love your phraseology in the power-packed sentence concluding with the nudge to “tear up the rug and see what’s underneath.”

    Don Miguel Ruiz and OSHO quote the great Masters (Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna) to make the somewhat related point that (attaining) wisdom is different from (amassing) knowledge, and with each passing day I come to realize just a little bit more the distinction between the two. [Borg also noted as much is his Meeting Jesus Again book.]

    Wisdom to be gleaned from so many places — from the Wisdom books in the Old Testament to the rhyme and caricature of Ted Geisel, who famously said:

    “You have brains in your head; you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

    Here’s to steering ourselves where we choose, with curious minds and open hearts.

    After all, while curiosity may have gotten Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat in trouble — and whom among us hasn’t unleashed our own versions of Thing 1 and Thing 2 and made a mess of things! — but that same Cat was wise enough to clean up its mess in the end, and saved the best for last!

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