Binary Questions, Binary Choices
How to maintain a clear direction
Binary yes/no questions can be a very powerful method for directing the mind and rapidly returning to the path, when forgetting takes place. They develop the choice faculty of the brain and are the cornerstone of several approaches. Byron Katie’s The Work uses the questions, “Is it true?” and “Can I absolutely know that it is true?”. Steve Kiloby’s Living Inquiry uses, “Is this it?” or “Is this me?” Lester Levinson and the Sedona Method asked, “Could I let go of this? Would you let go? When?” Douglas Harding’s Headless Way asks, “Can I see my own face?”
Binary questions cut through the vague reasoning of the emotional brain. Their black and white nature creates inherent direction. When they are created around the topics of identity and perception, they become powerful tools for awakening awareness. Despite the stories we tell ourselves, we have the innate ability to see the truth (of our experience). If we want to know the truth, we will see it.
Let’s split these questions into two categories: 1. those that pull us away from our thinking and emotions and 2. those that direct us towards freedom.
1. In Reference to Thoughts and Emotions
Is this me? Is this deficient self, me?
Is it true? Can you absolutely know that this is true?
Could I let go of this? Would I (if given the opportunity)?
Does this sensation/feeling have shape? (without the imagining)
2. Towards Freedom
Can I see my face?
Can I see the boundary of my visual field?
Does this sensation have shape? (without the imagining)
Is this it?
Is this now?
Do I want to be free?
Do I like being spacious awareness?
Is being spacious awareness difficult?
Find a question that works for you. Test it out.
1. Ask the question
2. How do you react? yes / no.
(e.g. “no”, I can’t see my face, “yes”, I want to be free).
You’re not interested in the surface thoughts that come and go every few seconds. You’re asking for the knowing that is integrated and presented to you, before your surface thoughts think about it.
We have billions of neurons firing and integrating our experience. Our surface thoughts can be poor representations of this massively complex integrated experience and knowing. It seems that binary yes / no questions are easier to relax into and bypass our surface thoughts, allowing a deeper knowing to arise.
Binary questions about perception are like powerful lasers. They instantly cut through the fog of our confuse thinking. If the question is about perception then the answer is undeniable (if we are willing to ask and check the evidence). This makes the headless way perceptual experiments so powerful. Questions like, “Can you see your own face?” or “Does this sensation have a shape?” are testable on current evidence.
Perception to Formless Awareness
These perceptual questions are designed to point directly to the formless nature of our experience – to the underlying awareness as the backdrop. Our imaginings about perception and experience are not the truth. When we truly examine the raw data of perception we discover that the concreteness of experience is created in our head, and there is a gap between perception and thought that we can capitalise on.
Forgetting and Choice
We don’t have a choice when we forget. The key is when we remember. At that point its not a complicated decision. It’s either yes or no. “Do I want spacious awareness?”
Stabilising Choiceless Awareness
Binary questions that access non-verbal knowing are effortless to answer. Ask ; look-sense. They point us in the right direction, and it’s the direction created that primes our brain for success. They are a setup for choiceless awareness; when the ‘yes’ is the only answer that makes sense.
By moving binary truth questions to the top of our toolkit we are choosing certainty, stability and knowing. The proof is in the pudding. Test it out. Once the significance of a yes/no answer is seen, it becomes easy to string these together moment after moment, like the matches lighting in a row.