When we were young, there was such a natural awe and wonder in the air; a presence, which each new wave of youth seems to be graced with. We were inside an amazing, timeless world of questions through which to discover life and its meanings.
This natural spirit of enquiry often gets suppressed and inhibited before puberty, as outside conformist pressures can shrink this eternal, compelling urge to deeply question everything.
For example, an adult asking a child, ‘So what do you want to be when you grow up?’ can force an oppressive position upon that young life, who at the age of say six or seven can only be expected to snatch at an answer – possibly one which they think the adult wants to hear. Such leading questions pre-empt an answer and can restrict the faculty of questioning in a child’s mind…
… whereas a whole kaleidoscope of new opportunity and self-knowledge can be released simply by listening to and encouraging the questions that naturally arise in children; the questions that maybe we once dared to ask and might now want to re-visit; questions that free our minds and senses to travel the unbounded possibilities of what it is to be alive, to be a human, to learn, to not know.
Liberating the art of questioning
The right question at the right time can steer us to such an appreciation and understanding of life. Questions can not only liberate us from ignorance, but they can also give us access into greater ideas, thoughts and experiences. And questioning with the future in mind can lead to long-term resolutions, rather than short-lived, quick-fix solutions that don’t dare to question at depth. For questioning that has a purpose beyond profit, begins not with an assumption that you do know, but an assumption that you don’t.
The kind of questions which will determine the long-term viability of the human race on this planet are questions that are perhaps too simple and too searching for a heavily intellectualised and industrialised world, which sometimes seems only focused upon asking how to extract more from this earth so as to acquire more things.
So as we journey through this life, there are simple, revealing questions that can spark a renaissance of a natural questioning in oneself. This can develop character, understanding, tolerance and a greater sense of companionship and mutuality amongst people – a sense of true hope for the future.
For certain fundamental, probing, illuminating questions apply to every person, no matter who they are– questions to reason through and quietly contemplate. In which perhaps the most compelling and crucial question of all to begin with is:
Why is the human on earth?
This most fundamental question is one that you may well have asked yourself from a very early age. I did when I was 8 years old, and it has moved and inspired me to many successes in my life and to many new and original insights along the way. For the deeper and vaster the question, the greater is the yield – not just in terms of answers, but also in terms of promoting further revealing questions and realisations.
Why is the human on earth? is crucial to ask because it opens our minds creatively, spiritually and practically to the present and the future. It opens us to connect to our true purpose in living, and calls us to make a journey of discovery into the unknown and unexplored in life. For the truth is that we know so little about our own unseen worlds of spirit, soul, mind, mentality, instinct, emotion and the deeper reasons for our existence. And we know even less about this wondrous universe that is our greater home, made up of inconceivable amounts of dark energy and dark matter that are teeming and sparking with life.
A question of the future
Such searching questions as, Why is the human on earth?, nurture the essential human quality of humility, which in turn promotes mindfulness, respect and value. From this inner state grows a profound awe, appreciation and care for life, which is one of the core reasons why we are here on earth; to give and serve and honour the purposes of life, not to diminish them.
We are here to contribute and add to life, to make the world inside and around us the best possible place for life to grow, so that the young may inherit an improving state of affairs on this planet, not the debris from our abuse of it. In which we’d be well minded to adopt the mindset of the Iroquois who held as a tenet and sentiment in all their law-making to “…have always in view not only the present, but also the coming generations…”
If we are to discover and understand some of the key mysteries and purposes in living a life, and apply the right answers to today’s confronting challenges and extraordinary new opportunities, then perhaps we will need to be brave, patient and perceptive enough to find the right questions.
In the radically shifting and changing century we are living through, now is the most pivotal of all times to awaken and re-vitalise that crucial faculty that lives latent in each person’s mind and spirit… the faculty and art of questioning, deeply.
Our survival, our development and our future as a human race are all naturally constructed and determined by our ability to question. Questioning is a process that is not only about answers, but also about exercising our inherent freedom, to discover the undiscovered.
Written and adapted for Cygnus by Mark Ballabon
14th August 2012
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