The power of a motive question

I have been asked from time to time in my nondual healing studies – usually as I try to avoid one of my personal demons by pinning down some new piece of understanding, knowledge or skill:  “What is it you are trying to solve?”

The “answer” to this question is not a statement, but another question – what I call a motive question, because it is one that moves us powerfully – and unconsciously – into action over and over again throughout our lives.

A motive question makes its presence known in our lives as we repeatedly circle around frustrations, guilts, and disappointments. It dogs us through serial (if monogamous) relationships, work lives, creative endeavors, week-end workshops, pilgrimages, marches.

In the past few days, inspired by the courage and vulnerability of my healing colleagues, I have once again taken up that question: What am I trying to solve as I live my life?  It has ushered me deep into weeping with loneliness. I have explored this loneliness before through poetry about my very early life, but I rarely allow it to arrive so fully in my consciousness or my body.

I could say that my motive question is: How can I live so that I avoid feeling this loneliness? Many other voices and opinions chime in. Some sow delight in my being, others plague. I write down what each has to say. Eventually they drop into song together, a refrain of yearning and commitment, a truth-filled response to my motive question:

I can bear to show up and be seen

I can bear to speak and be heard

I can bear to touch and be touched

I can bear to hold and be held

as the woman I am

as the Jew I am

in all my whiteness

not only for the sake of others

but for my own sake.

Perhaps this is the right timing for you to begin to inquire into your own motive question.

There is no more holy work. It solves nothing. Yet it brings healing and awakening to your soul and to the world.



Holy work

by Sara Eisenberg


As I sit to

engage in this holy reckoning,

the Corn Maiden is not her erect

sun-reaching self.


Instead her head rests against the flank

of the Blue Deer,

whose song calls her into existence,

sings to her: “multiply and feed,” and

settles each and every god into

her role.


And so chaos yields to One, separation

after another,

glistening particulars across all

firmaments, oceans, marshes, deserts,

across all concepts, beliefs, borders, memes.


The body of the world is all hands and eyes, they

touch and bless each

shape and texture as it comes into

life, catches vivid fire, warms and burns,


touch and bless each

small death-into-life before the body wearies



touch and bless,

clapping and

shining with tears

of a joy so great

even sorrow

finds lodging.


Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × two =