Living the questions rather than the answers:


There are some who need answers. They can’t live with ambiguity, with risk, with possible chaos. Their lives are already so complex and challenging that what they often need a faith that is reassuring. These folk need “answers.”


Then there are those who have realized that there are more questions than answers. It’s not that they wouldn’t want answers. It’s that they realize that the answers are not so readily accessible. They also realize that the answers provided to date don’t seem to satisfy and reassure as they used to. And that answers that satisfy today may not be as satisfactory in the future, when further experiences give rise to new questions.


Seeking is a quest for meaning. Most often seeking is a quest for the More or the Beyond, beyond what is readily accessible through our senses and our reason. Seekers know there is more to life, to living, than what is available to our knowing. But they are usually keenly aware that they are dealing with a realm of “mystery” rather than “problem.” A problem can be solved, because one can walk around it, grasp it, make full sense of it. A mystery, on the other hand, can’t be solved, because it already includes us in it. Thus, we can’t get outside it to solve it. Our life, our death, the meaning of life, the meaning of this very universe, are all mysteries because we can’t get outside them to look at them objectively. Thus, whatever we say about mysteries will always be partial, tentative, and usually more wrong than right. Seekers can usually accept this.


Some people frame seeking in terms of a personal relationship with an unknown Other. Life for them then becomes an intimate ongoing relationship. Christian mystics lived their lives as relationship. For many of them, the More, the Beyond, the Transcendent was also the most intimate part of themselves, was also Immanent. The term for such an understanding of divinity is “panentheism.” This is the notion that the divine permeates all reality, and all reality exists within the Divine. The catch-phrase used by many panentheists comes from St Paul: “God, in whom we live, move and have our being.”


Some seekers, on the other hand, are simply trying to make sense of life when none of the existing answers seem to work, and are more comfortable avoiding all reference to a divine reality, and would prefer to speak of “values” – basic, immutable human values – by which they wish to live.


What is common to all seekers, however, is simply this: they are prepared to live with the questions of life, rather than with firm answers. Questions invite experience, hypotheses, and tentative conclusions, which, in turn, raise more questions, which challenge the tentative conclusions, and give rise to more experience, more hypotheses, and more tentative conclusions. Seekers become comfortable with that dynamic process, and consider it the fundamental human condition.