← Back to Kinfonet

What is a question?

What is a question?

  1. a sentence in an interrogative form, addressed to someone in order to get information in reply.
  2. a problem for discussion or under discussion; a matter for investigation.
  3. a matter of some uncertainty or difficulty; problem
    Middle English, from Old French, legal inquiry, from Latin quaestiō, quaestiōn-, from *quaestus, obsolete past participle of quaerere, to ask, seek. (from the dictionary)

The word question implies a quest. What is a quest that needs a reply, an answer, a solution? Already, can’t we see, in a round about way, we are trying to fix uncertainty and difficulty in the way we live?
Seriously, do I need to talk about this quest, and all its complications? The quest is what I am doing! Not make it yours or mine, his or hers, problem, something to expose, but seriously look at ones own approach to life, ones own way of thinking. Not analytically. Actually, directly, carefully, see what I, the thinker, am doing. Can you do that? Or is this quest with its skill and technology of talking, writing, and discussing, this self expression, the limitation we cultivate?

Aren’t you at all interested in how other humans are handling, dealing with , “talking, writing, discussing about”, our “quest”?

… What is a question?

You see, it is not being handled very well at all, and is completely the wrong approach.

It seems to me, that the quest (long and arduous search) that we attempt to answer with questioning, is a necessary part of the journey. We must ask questions, but with a clear understanding, that the point is not to use answers as just another step towards a goal. All answers are simply an explanation from the very limitation of communication. We are all already everything we have ever been, or will ever be. (at least, as far as being an aware person)

A question is a useful tool for unburdening our mind of delusions, or unnecessary beliefs, but we must be aware of why we ask the question. Is it to support the self-expression that we ignore to doubt as true or false (As real or simply a belief)? Or, is the question asked from a true vulnerability, where one refuses to ignore the truth, regardless of one’s wants or dreams?

From what I’ve seen in myself, most questions are asked in response to our psychological suffering (or to gain an outcome). Most questions might require a belief in “an” attachment. ‘Am I aware?’ seems to be a question which avoids attachment altogether.

You must ask a question without seeking an answer, for the answer will inevitably be according to your conditioning .

The Proto-Indo-European root of “question” is believed to be kwo- (also kwi-), the source of who, what, why, which, etc:

Sanskrit kah “who, which;” Avestan ko, Hittite kuish “who;” Latin quis/quid “in what respect, to what extent; how, why,” qua “where, which way,” qui/quae/quod “who, which;” Lithuanian kas “who” (from the Online Etymology Dictionary).

So a question is any response to a situation or event which attempts to clarify what has occurred. Someone has appeared at the door: who? I am holding a coin in one of my hands: which (hand)? There is a woodpecker in the garden: where? The train will no longer stop at my station: why?

So, psychologically speaking, if there is a movement of sorrow, irritation, conflict (or some other movement of consciousness) inwardly, one can pause and ask (non-verbally) what (is going on)? where (is it happening)? why (is it happening)? to whom (is it happening)?, etc. The point of such questioning is of course simply to clarify the nature of what is occurring (whether it is sorrow, irritation or whatever).

There is no goal in this process of clarification, aside from clarification itself (clarification means to make obvious, lucid, clear). For without clarification of an event (or occurrence), one cannot truly say that any real conscious awareness of the event takes place. So clarity has to do with awareness and seeing: to see the whole occurrence as it is (in all its fullness).

Therefore a question - when righty posed (questions can also be wrongly posed out of idle curiosity, escape, deflection, intellectualisation, or a desire to accumulate knowledge) - helps to elucidate the occurrence, so as to make it seen (or brought into awareness) fully.

What I do with the seeing is a verbal, cultural, enhancement, and this clarification is not the actual clear seeing. This experience is thought, and in the nature of thought we ask questions. The questions are based in the field of thought.

What one “does” with such seeing once it is actual (if indeed there is anything separately to be “done” about it) is a secondary consideration. Such a “doing” - if it constitutes something separate from perception - has nothing to do with seeing.

But questioning - as I understand it - is part of perception. It is to give attention to other facets of what exists (within the field of perception) which have not (or haven’t yet) been brought-out or exposed (to complete awareness, clarity).

That is, true questioning is the unfolding of seeing, the sensitivity to what hasn’t been seen, the humility to doubt what one thinks one has seen, and the openness to probe deeper into what there is to be seen. Such a questioning can be verbalised, but it is not primarily a verbal matter.

It might be verbalised thus:

there is a movement of consciousness in the mind, and can one be aware of the whole movement with all its implications? (or is one distorting and limiting the awareness through one’s prejudices and previous knowledge?).

But if one’s questions are wholly limited to (and expressive of) the field of thought, then they are wrong questions and lead nowhere.

When I see an image, because we are using conditioned senses, if you want to call it perception, it is based on how things seem, it is not the whole seeing with an unaffected clarity. We have the idea we can build clarity with thought, and that’s why we ask questions.

That is an assumption that you are making. I am not making that assumption.

Clarity is a matter of perception. Simply put, the questioning attitude does not assume that everything about an occurrence has been properly perceived - and so it holds the perception in awareness. This holding can be verbalised, but it isn’t itself verbal - it is perceptual.

When K asks “What is fear?”, he is asking us to look at fear and observe (perceive) its nature. When he further verbalises the question “Is fear part of the movement of thought and time?”, he is asking us to perceive more deeply its nature. By asking such questions, K’s invitation is not to

1 Like

When the mind seeks safety, security - i.e. something concrete on which it can anchor - it has recourse to a conclusion or to a hypothesis. Experimentation does not lead to conclusion; the experimenter keeps on watching, looking and observing. To understand what is taking place in the experiment, he is in a receptive mood, quiet and sensitive like a photographic plate, without criticising or condemning. So also should be our attitude if we would understand the full significance of a marvellous scene, a picture, or a poem.

Kinfonet Quote of the Day


When a conclusion like this is drawn, listening ends and the door to communication and exploration is closed.

Can you do that?..

Do you see, questions of ability, questions of method, questions of individual statements, are not a question flowering attentively and mindfully, with no motive, no fear?
We are not talking about the questions of an inventive, technological ability. This is about questions communicating freely, not comparative, not relying on past knowledge, ideas, theory, belief, etc.

So, to look at your response, is it actually about communicating freely together, or have you some idea, something you have read, some quote, which is a specific instruction, a specific advice, in a specific context, and is not in the flow of communicating, free from a self center? The nature of questioning is not in its form, not in what someone thinks or says it is, and not in a result.
It is obvious, telling what you think, is not a question. Is what we say is a question, based in knowledge, and not at all in the nature of questioning?

Hello Peter.

What do you mean by conditioned senses? and what is an unconditioned sense?

I feel that, there cannot be clarity at the start. Whatever it is. No one can feel/catch accurately, what other person says/feels. Misunderstanding happens.

But, sticking to that misunderstanding, is what breaks the relationship between people.

Peter might say one thing, False might understand it differently. But, when the “False” sticks to it and keeps on arguing/battling with Peter, there the relationship breaks. If False question Peter, “This what I understood from you. Is my understanding is same as yours?”, then this will bring clarity, and it doesn’t matter whether it is from thought/perception.

We are not open to question everything including what one understood/heard/known/experienced. This “Understood/heard/known/experienced” forms the ‘ego’ and this what I feel a blockage in a relationship when not questioned.

What do you feel Peter? Can you understand what I said?

What is a question? There is the process of question asking we can construct linguistically. There is the situation of being in a position and questioning the other person. I hear or read something but it doesn’t make sense and verbally I ask a question. But lets look deeper than all that, and see a question is where there is an unknowingness, a vulnerability, a fear, a disappointment, something like that. This is not a verbal, intellectual, analytical, emotional, question, it is the whole sense of questioning my self and the way I live, all of that. It is not the questioning which needs an explanation, an answer, or an authority, it is the beginning of an end of knowing.

So, if Peter has a question in deeper sense, he don’t have to share that question to others, and just remain with it. Isn’t it?. Then what is meant by a ‘dialogue’?

I feel, everyone has a ‘position’ and only from that ‘position’ - question arises as “why I am remaining in this position? And why the other person asks from another position?”. If there is no position at start, no question arises, and it means One is free from every positions.

I feel ‘questions’ doesn’t arise from “awareness”. Questions are raised by the position/self/beliefs, by itself.

“I am believing. I am positioning. Why I am being in this position? How I got into this position? What makes me to question this position? What makes other person to remain in (or) hold on to another position and not question it?”

A question is asked, and I can look at it, the question, and think about it, absorb it, see what it means, and then there is this experience. That’s all. There are no rules, no instructions, no formalisation that I have to abide by, or put to another.