Inquiry is an opportunity to participate in an intimate investigation about how to live an awakened life in the everyday world. In these warm encounters, we are offered a chance to explore our struggles and experience the release from unnecessary suffering by working directly with a Zen teacher in a group setting, sharing the intimacy of practice-based inquiry with others. Devoid of ancient rituals or formalized structure, Inquiry is an opportunity to share our deepest sorrows and our greatest joys, and to face the challenges of our everyday lives, held in the warm embrace of sangha (the community of practitioners). It is also a place in which the dharma (teachings—the way things are) emerges naturally in this intimate meeting. Rather than relying on traditional sutras or Asian forms, the practice of Inquiry directly demonstrates the possibility of liberation in the present moment. The truth comes forth in our own voices, supported by the presence of spiritual friends, and assisted by the teacher.
Inquiry group is not designed for nor offered as an alternative to psychotherapy or counseling. The process is not intended for giving advice or for academic discussion. Each person is invited to offer his or her presence in the spirit of openness and curiosity. Participants may have a wide range of questions about their practice and about their lives. Although only a few people will be able to enter into the public dialogue in each session, the full participation of every person is required in order to hold the space for awakening and transformation to occur. We all share in and benefit from this transformative practice.
Inquiry is open to anyone interested in Zen practice and the teachings of the Buddha. There is no membership requirement and you do not need to consider yourself a “Buddhist.” There is no charge for Inquiry although dana (donation) for the teacher is encouraged.
Each session begins with a period of 15 minutes of silent sitting, followed by some brief comments, a reading, or a reflection by the teacher. The remaining time is devoted to an Inquiry dialogue with participants who come forward and meet with the teacher. Participants are encouraged to establish a regular meditation practice to help support and integrate the truth that emerges in Inquiry. The group setting also holds the potential for revealing the intimate and essential work of a bodhisattva, a being dedicated to the relief of suffering for all beings.
The days and times for Inquiry can be found on the Flint Sparks calendar as well as on the Appamada calendar. Please not that all Inquiry sessions are audio recorded for the benefit of the larger sangha.