open dharma meditation retreats
~ Questions to ask

“How do you have a conversation?”
“Ask a question, and then don’t forget to listen.”
(Bryan Tucker sometimes gives this line during the closing talks of silent retreats.) Some sociologists have found that the number of people we are likely to have meaningful conversations with has dropped dramatically in recent years.

Jaya often says that listening is the power that can change the world.

Here are a few loose questions to spark conversations with the people in your family, our circle of friends, your work place, your favorite pub, your neighborhood…Make the questions your own and remember the richness of listening. Another good tip for listening: be grateful to receive the emotions and pain and needs and beauty in people’s heartfelt passions and long-held beliefs. It is not necessary to agree in order to have a conversation. It is not even necessary to trade opinions. Many times deep connection happens just by allowing and receiving someone else’s feelings, whatever they may be.

A. What are your priorities in your life?
If this were the
last day/week/year of your life, what would you do?
If this were the
first day/week/year of your life, what would you do?

1) How much time do you spend devoted to your priorities? (per week, per year…)

2) Have these always been your priorities, or have there been shifts over the years?

3) What are you happy you have done in your life? What do you most regret?

4) What would you like to make sure you do before you die?

5) What are the 5 most important things out of the following: health, family, work, success, money, learning, friends, making a difference, ecology, peace, belonging, creativity, healing, joy, community, enlightenment, adventure, fun, loyalty, honesty, faith, religious practice, spiritual practice, clarity, protecting someone or something such as family, country, or principles.

6) What do those 5 words mean to you?

B. “Top three:” What were the 3 most important moments of your day/week/year/life?
What were the most joyful moments
of your day? This week? This year? Your whole life?
The worst?

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C. What is love?

D. What do you think about nature and ecology?

1) What word or words best describes your attitude: energized for change, hopeless, worried, grateful, connected, sad, angry, doing your best,...
2) Have you made any changes in your lifestyle according to your thoughts about ecology and nature?

E. What do you think about work?

1) If you work or have ever worked, is or was your work fulfilling? If yes, in what ways? If not, have you ever felt satisfaction with work?

2) What did you “want to be when you grew up” when you were a child?

3) If you could do anything you wanted as your work, what would you do?

F. If you could wish one thing for yourself, what would it be? What would you wish for your family, your community, your town, your country, the world?

G. What do you think about religion and spirituality?

1) Have you ever had a spiritual experience? How would you describe it? Where, when, and what was the context? Has that experience (or those experiences) had any impact on how you live your life?

2) Is there a difference between religion and spirituality?

3) Do you remember ways you “connected” as a child? Do you have a way or ways to “go inside” or to connect with something larger than yourself?

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