What is confrontation?

What is self-inquiry confrontation?

Imagine that you’ve lost your glasses (and also for some of you, that you have glasses to lose).  There’s no one else around to help you look for them, and you’re having trouble looking on your own since you can’t see too well without them.  So, you call a friend for help.  Since your friend is not with you in your house to look, he tries to be helpful by asking useful questions as you feel your way around.

“Where was the last place you remember wearing them?”

“Where do you tend to keep your glasses when you aren’t using them?”

“Are they on your forehead?”

Some questions may hurt your pride or feel insulting if you already have strong ideas about where your glasses should or should not be.  For example, “Are they on your forehead?” might feel insulting if your feeling is, “Does he think I’m stupid?  Of course my glasses aren’t on my forehead!”

Yet, sure enough, sometimes you find what you’ve lost right where you were sure it wouldn’t be.  If you honestly don’t know where your glasses are, it might do you some good to swallow your pride and question your beliefs about where they might be, by checking your forehead.  This would be much more helpful to you than trying to convince yourself that you know where they are but just can’t find them for some reason, or that you can see fine without your glasses.

Self-inquiry confrontation is meant to give the same kind of support as your friend on the phone trying to help you find your glasses.  In this case, however, what has been lost is of much greater importance: Peace, Love, Security, Identity, God, Self, or some unidentified source of longing.  Beliefs, world-views, values, ethics, and self-concepts are questioned in order to help the person being confronted to see through the untruths blocking his way to that which he is seeking.

People may be drawn to the meetings not knowing exactly what it is they are looking for, but having a strong feeling that something is missing.  Confrontation is not about telling a person what he is supposed to want or be looking for.  It is about helping that person look within for himself.  To return to the metaphor of your friend on the phone, it’s as if you’ve forgotten what you’ve lost in the first place, but you know you’ve lost something.  Your friend can only try to help jog your memory by asking you questions.  Each person who attends the confrontation meetings has to decide for himself whether the meetings are in fact helpful to him.

To give an idea of the ballpark, these meetings are often most useful to those interested in such teachers as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Douglas Harding, Richard Rose, Franklin Merrell-Wolff, Bernadette Roberts, Huang Po, and Hui Neng, though familiarity with such teachers is not necessary in order to attend.

For clarity’s sake, here are some things which confrontation is not:

-A philosophical debate

-A chance to flex one’s own intellectual muscle or knowledge

-An opportunity to convert others to one’s own beliefs

-A group discussion aimed at consensus, agreement, and acceptance

To put it another way, self-inquiry confrontation is not for those who are concerned with what others’ beliefs should be, or for those concerned with what their beliefs should be according to someone else.  It is for those who are interested in looking honestly and earnestly within themselves.

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