A wilderness trail entails asking true questions.

A wilderness trail entails asking true questions

By Boy van Droffelaar – PhD

During a wilderness trail we learn to listen deeply: to Nature, to the other and to ourselves.

Sometimes it is necessary to go even deeper by asking true, honest questions. And then, we just wait in stillness. Stillness, inner silence, is waiting inside – with true and full attention – for what is to come, but without expecting anything. Still, it could happen. Waiting in silence with full attention.

The French philosopher Simone Weil points out that the French word ‘attendre’, which means to wait, is very related to the word attention. It is this Nature’s silence that resonates with our own inner silence and timelessness. So, instead of reacting immediately maybe reflect first for a while.

Francisco Varela (1946-2001), one of the twentieth century’s best thinkers, understood this better than anybody else. In his groundbreaking works and essays he connects biology with psychology and philosophy. Francisco firmly believed that scientific research needs to be complemented by deep questioning, that is, detailed phenomenological inquiries of human experience as it is lived and verbally articulated in the first person. To this end, he published a number of original and innovative phenomenological studies of aspects of human consciousness. 

The following poetry is dedicated to remember Francesco:


Someone asks
and I see
what I did not see before.

Did I know that?
Did I simply omit to look?

My understanding arose
with the question.

A true question does not
demand an answer.
It is not a hypocrisy
with the nature of the answer
A true question
is an honest question.

An honest question
arises in love,
In the acceptance of the world
where what appears
is legitimate.

An honest question is a request
for an expansion of understanding.
In this desire illumination happens
and I see
what I could not see before.

This is a gift
from the one
who asks.

(Pille Bunnell) 

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