(The principal of a large school in Bombay gave us a list of frequently asked questions by 13 year old children in her school and asked us whether we can prepare answers in the light of a spiritual perspective. When we looked at the question we found that they are not mere “kid-stuff.” Most of them are either fundamental and existential questions related to world and God or psychological problems faced by most of us. This series is an attempt to answer these questions from the children’s perspective in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We don’t know how far we have succeeded in communicating to the children. Nevertheless, we hope these answer may be of some help to teachers and parents who have to deal with children. There are around thirty questions with answers given in the light of a spiritual vision of life. We will post these questions at regular intervals.)
Why do we ask questions?
Because, the urge to know is one of the basic needs of our mind. Just like our body wants food, our mind wants to know. The questions are the expressions of this fundamental need of our mind. More active and awakened the mind is more will be the questions. All the knowledge and wisdom in the world and all the great discoveries in science are the result of such questioning. So asking questions to yourself or to your parents, teachers or mentors are a healthy sigh. Our mind grows by asking questions and finding answers.
There are three fundamental questions: What, Why and How. What things are made of? Why do they exist? How things work? These are the basic questions which have to be asked for everything we observe, experience, hear, read or know. Nothing should be taken for granted because they exist for a long time, considered as sacred by tradition or said by people who are considered as wise. This questioning attitude is the foundation of scientific progress.
Among the basic questions, the most fundamental are those sets of questions related to the self and world. First are the set of questions related to the self like for example:
- Who Am I?
- What I am made of?
- What is the aim and purpose of my life?
- How to realize this aim?
The second sets of questions are related to the world around:
- What is the world or what the world is made of?
- How the world works or in otherwords what are the laws and principles which governs the world?
- What is the aim and purpose of the world?
- What is my role in the fulfillment of the world’s purpose?
But a question becomes potent and transformative when it is not just a mental curiosity but proceeds from a deeply felt need of the whole being, with an emotional intensity and a sense of urgency. When the question is asked with such a vital intensity and urgency and with the whole being then the answer comes from within and it has a transforming effect on the personality.
However such states of transformative questions may be rare. On a lesser scale, questions which arise out of a deeply felt experience, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant are much more powerful than those which arise out of mental curiosity. When you are having this experience, you can ask what is the meaning of this experience. What is behind it? What are the lessons I have to learn from this experience?