30 Forms for Enquiry
Here is a list of 30 forms for group enquiry in a variety of environments. This website provides more information about the Enquiry including meditation, mindfulness, communication, facilitating, reporting, and right action.
Many of the forms listed below can work well in schools, centres, places of employment, organisations and in various group meetings. It is a simple matter of wise adaption.
Many of these forms continue to be developed in the Dharma Enquiry (DE) retreats in Germany and Israel. There are 25 - 28 participants in Germany. The Dharma Enquiry is called the Dharma Seminar in Israel with around 40 participants. Many of these forms will be employed in 2017 for the MTTC (see website) in Germany and Israel. Go to MTTC link.
The DE is held every Spring in the Tushita Centre, Pauenhof, Dusseldorf, Germany for four days every Spring and for four days every Autumn at Waldhaus retreat centre, Nickenich, near Andernach (an hour from Bonn) every Autumn. See website for dates and to register.
There is a 12 hour silent period every day from 21.30 to 9.30 am. in the DE retreat. Day starts at 6.00 am and ends at 21.30 with a hot drink. Breakfast is 7.45 am. Lunch is 13.00 and break until 15.00. Evening food is 18.00. Participants decide for themselves how many sessions they join.
1. Intimacy Pairs
We establish a theme, personal or impersonal, for enquiry. One person speaks and other person asks the speaker brief questions so the speaker can go deeper into the issue. The roles are then reversed.
Time: 5-20 minutes per person.
2. Intimacy Circles of Three
Group is divided into groups of three. The intimacy circle consists of three people - speaker, questioner and silent witness. Similar in theme as intimacy pairs. The silent witness gives a response at the end of each session to what s/he heard. Response is short. Perhaps appreciation with some helpful feedback. Speaker and questioner act as silent witnesses to feedback. Rotation of three roles.
Time: 10-20 minutes per person.
3. The Briefest Summary
Each person in the retreat gives a one, two or three word summary of their immediate experience or current priority.
4 . Inter-Views
Christopher and co-teachers are available for a private one to one inter-view, if participant wishes.
5. Facilitated Groups
Six or more participants in such a group. Facilitator ensures everybody has a voice. Nobody dominates. Facilitator sets outline for who speaks. Facilitator invites comments on the theme and ensures exploration. Facilitator gives two minute summary at the end. Facilitator can just facilitate or facilitate group and contribute on the theme. Facilitator states at the beginning. Reporter writes down three sentences regarded as important contributions by participants. Reporter reads to full groups the sentences. Reporter invites two participants to give short response to the skills of the facilitator. Facilitator does not respond to feedback.
Time: 30-60 minutes.
6. Four silent meditations per day on Dharma Enquiry retreat. Four silent meditations/reflections per day on MTTC
7.00 - 7.30
9.30 – 10.00
19:00 – 19.30
7. Unfacilitated- Groups of Four or More
Theme. No facilitator. No reporter. Listening and speaking with equal opportunity for all. All participants in each group to be mindful of over-speaking and under-speaking - with individual responsibility for length and depth of contribution.
Time: 20 – 40 minutes.
8. Sutta (Discourse of the Buddha) Study
Christopher sends summary of two discourses from Middle Length Discourses. Before the DE retreat Participants divided into small groups to share experiences and understanding of the discourse and any relevance for their daily lives. Full group (known in English as plenary session) share from small groups. Christopher gives commentary on the discourse.
Time: 20 – 40 minutes for small groups. 20 – 40 minutes for plenary session.
9. Dharma Enquiry with Christopher
A person comes to take a seat next to Christopher. She or he explores a personal matter/spiritual theme/global issue/Dharma standpoint with Christopher. Exchange last from a few minutes to 30 minutes with a minute of two of silence when the participant returns to her or his seat before the next enquirer comes to the front. The intention is to contribute to insights, understanding and practices for everybody, as well as the enquirer. Christopher gives a reflection on the enquiries.
Time: Around 60 minutes.
10. Inner Circle (sometimes known as The Fishbowl)
Five cushions placed in a circle. Full group sits in a circle. One person suggests a theme/issue/proposal and then goes into the middle to sit on a cushion. When another person joins, then the two people can state discussion. Others may wish to join. Inner circle is fluid with people coming and going. No questions/comments from the outer circle. Outer circle consists of the silent witnesses. Reflection at end by Christopher
Time: 40 – 60 minutes.
11. Sitting in the Dharma Seat
A participant offers to take the Dharma teacher’s seat. Participants can ask him or her any Dharma question. Priority is given to impersonal questions but personal questions can be included. There is encouragement for short direct questions on various issues rather than long, involved complicated questions Minimum five questions.
Time per person: 10 - 15 minutes. Three or four participants.
12. Sitting in the Dharma seat with a theme
Participants can speak up to 10 - 15 minutes on a non-Dharma theme – written or spontaneous. Participants can ask questions for up to 10 minutes.
Time: 25 minutes.
13. Sitting in the Dharma seat to offer a Dharma teaching.
Participant can give a Dharma talk for 25 to 40 minutes maximum and take questions. Minimum of 10 minutes for questions.
Time: 45- 60 minutes.
14. Circle Dharma.
For example. An exercise to remember and reflect briefly on Dharma sets of the Buddha. For example, we might take Noble Eightfold Path. I give the first link of the Path. Person on my immediate left starts with a minute on Right Understanding/Right View and I then say Right Intention for the person seated next to give a minute comment on Right Intention. We go from one to the next for due period.
Time: 30 to 40 minutes.
15. Mindful Movement.
Three times per day.
Wake up at 6 am. Personal exercise period from 6.15 to 6.45 am.
Twice a day for a guided Mindful Movement in the standing posture of 15 minutes in the Dharma Hall, morning and afternoon.
Mindful Movement is led by a participant. Perhaps Qui Gung or basic yogic postures to expand the body/increase energy flow/oxygenate the cells/to feel centred.
16. Dharma Teaching
Christopher gives a Dharma talk exploring an issue to offer a deep view. Talk followed by questions from participants.
Time. 40 minutes for talk and 20 minutes for questions.
17. Meditation with Reflection
Christopher gives brief outline on a theme. Participants inwardly meditate and reflect on for 10-15 minutes. Christopher then asks questions for participants to share what they reflected on.
Time: 30 minutes to 50 minutes.
18. Insight Meditation/Reflection
End of 30 minute meditation. Christopher asks some participant about the quality of their meditation. What was the method employed. Did they feel established in the present? Was there a story going on? Was their energy, tiredness, clarity or any insights?
Time: 40 minutes (including questions from Christopher)
19. Dharma Theatre
Three or four participants put a short play together based on one of the Buddha’s discourses.
20. Dharma Dancing (optional)
21.30 to 22.30 on the final evening of the DE. Two participants volunteer to provide the music and set up the sound system. Dharma Dancing includes experience of the joy of harmony of body/mind, appreciation of connecting with the Sangha and watching arising of any judgemental mind of oneself and other.
Time. 60 minutes.
21. The Commitment
A participant makes a committment to the whole Sangha to develop a specific aspect of their practice. At the next meeting in the weeks or months ahead, the participant reports on the development of the commitment. Participants report on their commitments from the last meeting.
22. A New Form
Participants propose a new form for a future meeting
23. A Project
Small groups meet together to discuss a project in daily life to initiate together.
24. Agents of Change
A participant shares with another or others what project they would like to create or join and what they wish to offer.
Participants make specific committment(s) in the weeks/months after the course in front of the group.
Committment(s) are written down and sent out with the other information on the MTTC.
26. Intimacy of Three on Blessings
Each person to speak only about the blessings in their life. To speak of what they love, appreciate and enjoy, the kindnesses offered and received. The practice expresses the discipline of the blessings without any reference, direct or indirect, of issues, doubts or problems. Questioner only asks for expansion on a blessing or request to hear more.
27. Intimacy of Three on Appreciation for the Other
Express only appreciation for the person facing you. It is to remind the person of the blessings they have and the qualities of heart, mind and body they express. Receiver of kind words of appreciation to ask the speaker how to develop and deepen further these qualities.
28. Sound (Nada) Yoga.
Standing posture. To use breathing exercise with making of sounds on the out breath. One hand on the chest. Then the other hand. Both hands on chest area. Arm raised high and lowered while making sound. Then the other arm raised high and lowered. Then change the pitch of the sounds with the use of the hands. 30 mins.
29. Change and Develop
Participants share what areas they need to change in their lives and what they need to step. Participants to share the steps they will take.
30. Short Yatra (Pilgrimage)
Walk outside in the nature in a single, silent file. Time 30 minutes to 1 hr.
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE WITH WISDOM