Radical Curiosity

“Enlightenment is intimacy with all things.” – Dogen

Radical curiosity brings us into deeper intimacy with all ourselves, each other, and life, and serves us in both awakening to timeless presence and empowers us in our efforts for a most appropriate response in life. Let’s look at what radical curiosity is and is not.

Radical curiosity includes the experience of being consciously engaged with our experience, the willingness to see and understand our experience as much as we can.

‘Our experience’ includes our individual experience, as well as our shared relational and communal experiences, and spans as big as the world, the planet, and the universe, inside and out.

Radical curiosity requires a foundation of inhabiting (feeling) what we’re experiencing as clearly and as fully as we can.

As an example, let’s take one of our five physical senses. If we are trying to make sense out of what we visually see, it’s helpful to first physically see and sense what we’re seeing as clearly as we can, and from there we can best understand, interpret, and respond to what we’re seeing.

This process of understanding and interpreting requires curiosity and the blending of not-knowing and knowing (or the willingness to know) at the same time. From this radical curiosity, we will inevitably have a natural response arise to life, our embodiment and enacting in life will arise, and most likely with more wisdom and compassion.

Radical curiosity doesn’t mean having a pleasurable or positive desire, or having approval towards that which we are curious about.

In fact, this is in large part what we mean by ‘radical’ here: the capacity of curiosity isn’t dependent on approval or disapproval. In actuality, radical curiosity precedes any response. Response necessitates a foundation of radical curiosity. However, out of radical curiosity very decisive response can emerge, a a response that is likely to be more effective in impact.

We might have any number of flavors of about how we feel about what we’re curious. But radical curiosity just means that we are engaged fully enough to best understand and then respond to whatever we are investigating.

That being said, it’s often the case that we’re less likely to want to be curious about that which we dislike or find painful, and yet ironically, it’s often those painful or repelling experiences that most need our radical curiosity, engagement, and investigation in order to compassionately respond.

In letting go into timeless presence, the practice of radical curiosity helps us to reveal the ways in which we grasp, cling, and collapse our attention and embodiment. When these ways are revealed, we become more free in our presence and we are able to know and relate more directly and intimately with whatever is happening.

Radical curiosity serves our response because we become more fluid in life, more willing to reflect and investigate, we’re able to know life more intimately, and as a result, we are able to respond in more embodied and effective ways in life.