The Way of the Wormhole: On the Art of Inquiry

November 29, 2016

I love philosophy because I love how asking the right question can flip the world upside down.

Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of spiritual awakening. I left the life I had been living and embarked on an adventure without any map of the territory. During all that time I had the time and space to do as much spiritual practice as anyone could ever want.

Over all those years I was blessed with more breakthrough experiences and energetic openings than I can remember. Some were dramatic others were so subtle that you could almost miss them, but what they all have in common is that they instantaneously shifted my perspective and brought me into a new perception of reality.

When we call an experience spiritual, mystical or transformative this is often the quality we are speaking of. These experiences are so life altering because they do more than just illuminate the world as it is. They reveal new worlds of possibility to us.

Sometimes this shift is dramatic and we experience things that we never have before. Sometimes nothing seems to have changed and yet everything is different.

When we experience thee reality shifting moments it is like falling through a wormhole. A wormhole is a hypothetical connection between two distant points in space. Theoretically if you enter into the wormhole here you instantaneously find yourself way over there.

Many of my most profound spiritual experiences have come as a result of doing spiritual practice. One minute I am sitting meditating and suddenly the world has changed and everything is different.

Once during a long meditation retreat I woke up with a tremendous pain at the base of my spine. I walked around the room rubbing it to make it go away.

Finally I gave up and just sat on my bed. As soon as I did a roaring white light shot up right through the top of my head. For a few seconds it poured through me hurting my eyes with its brightness.

When it finally ended I just sat there looking around the room. Nothing was different but everything had changed. Suddenly nothing seemed solid.  Everything I could see felt like just a facade – a thin covering over depths of reality beyond what I could see or understand.

Suddenly the room I was in felt like a tiny drop in an infinite sea. I felt myself floating in a space without edges. Suddenly everything was mysterious and wonderful. I had fallen through a wormhole.

There are certain practices that hold our attention near the edge of a wormhole. When we engage in these practices or inquiries we are effectively dancing on the edge of a wormhole.

If we dance there long enough we will eventually fall in and when we do, we will suddenly find ourselves in another world of possibility.

One of the most powerful wormholes to dance around is the wormhole of ‘just being.’ When we sit in meditation allowing our experience to rise and pass away without reacting to any of it we are precariously perched at the edge of a magnificent wormhole.

It is less commonly understood that there are also forms of inquiry that offer equally powerful ways to dance on the edge of wormholes. Whenever we question the foundational assumptions of life as we know it we bring ourselves right to the edge of the universe.

The great Indian Sage Ramana Maharishi famously asked his disciples to use the simple question, “Who am I?” as a wormhole inquiry that propelled thousands of his followers into radical states of realization.

When I teach philosophy I use simple and penetrating questions that challenge the foundation of our current reality.

Is thinking really something that happens inside us?
Am I really separate from you?
Is yesterday really in the past?

These are all the kinds of questions that can lead to an instantaneous shift in consciousness and perspective.

Philosophy is too often thought of as only an academic endeavor involving reading and commenting on texts. To me nothing could be further from the truth.

Philosophy is the art of questioning our most fundamental assumptions about reality and then following those inquiries into new worlds of possibility. This is what I am calling here The Way of the Wormhole.

Zen masters have used the art of the koan for thousands of years to provoke dramatic shifts in awareness. As a teacher I encourage the art of questioning, I want to make deep thinking fashionable again. And I am not alone.

Sometimes we look out at the world that we live in and we wonder where all the intelligence has gone. Too often we seem willing to sink to the lowest common denominator.

But that is not the whole story.

In my studies I am finding remarkable individuals, academics and independent scholars who are asking incredibly insightful questions. Each in their own way is trying to pry at the edges of reality and lift off some of the facade so we can get a glimpse of the unimaginable depths below.

I have had the honor and the privilege to meet some of these pioneering thinkers. I study their work and I teach it. Our minds are not the enemy even if our old ways of thinking may be.

Our minds are not going to go away. They are going to be retooled and re-purposed. Thinking more is not enough. To shift into a new paradigm and recreate the world we need to think differently.

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