A deep inquiry into the nature of questions and how asking the right question scan provide answers that inspire and elevate you
Samadarshini is the director of Oneness University,
and a spiritual preceptor and motivational trainer
of rare distinction. She will be conducting a
workshop at the Life Positive Expo, 2008.
Have you ever considered that we think mostly through the process of asking questions and answering them? These range from the simplest issues such as whether one should do yoga or aerobics in the morning, to the most sweeping, such as why discontent has become the theme song of life. Our responses and reactions to life, whether internal or external, proceed only from this process of questioning and answering. When Newton discovered the Law of Gravity, we cannot ascertain if he really asked why an apple falls towards the earth instead of rocketing skyward. Nevertheless, he certainly asked crucial questions that led him to the discovery of gravity. So it is with every scientific invention and discovery, a breakthrough in business, or a philosophical insight. Since questions are the stuff of thoughts, and thoughts determine our words, actions, and therefore life, let us spend some time understanding and inquiring into the nature of questions itself.
Questions can be broadly classified into three kinds.
• Functional questions
• Emotional questions
• Fundamental questions
Should I spend the summer with the family, or should I invest the time in expanding my business? Who should I consult in order to understand the legalities of a particular issue? These are functional questions and are simple to comprehend. Whenever one has difficulty answering a functional question, it essentially reflects fuzziness and vagueness in priorities, or lack of knowledge and skill in a particular area. Let us say an army man has to decide between being present for his only child’s wedding and being part of the rescue mission of a national emergency. If his order of priorities is clear, then decision-making becomes easy. It does not mean that the decision is an easy one but the process is far less conflict-ridden. Sometimes, answering a functional question might require acquiring knowledge and more information, which would require hard work, commitment and intelligence.
Emotional questions determine a person’s internal state. These are born out of a specific psychological state, and depending on the question asked, could lead you to either a more inspiring state or a more depressing state. Therefore, the question is far more significant than the answer, and asking the right question is vital to managing our emotions. The human mind being essentially mechanical in nature, it will deliver a stupid answer if asked a stupid question. And vice versa. Emotional questions could weaken you or uplift you. When in a depressed mood, watch yourself and you will catch yourself asking the questions likely to depress you further. For instance: ‘Why do I have to go through so many trials in life?’ ‘Why do people not recognise my capabilities and reward me the way they do others?’ What kind of an emotional state do you think you would create by asking these questions? What if you were to ask these questions instead: ‘Is there some message these challenges are communicating to me?’ ‘What part of me is God trying to strengthen by putting me through these ordeals?’ ‘Is there something I can offer that nobody else can at my workplace?’ The first kind of questions would inevitably lead to defeatist answers such as ‘I am born unlucky’, ‘The system is unjust’ or ‘My workplace is a piranha tank’. The second kind of questions are empowering because they help you take responsibility. They wake you up from the slumber of self-pity, and the incapacitating act of blame-throwing. Let us remember that responsibility is power. When your questions signal you to own responsibility, they open up amazing frontiers of exploration. They make you grow out of your own barriers. They give rise to a Herculean personality.
Fundamental questions arise when you have not dealt with some issue of life. When there is non-acceptance of a fact of existence. Let us say you were born in a family with a very low economic advantage, or are not good looking, or have lost somebody or something dear to you. It is then that you indulge in fundamental questions. These are questions like – ‘Why are not all things made equal?’ ‘Why was there creation at all?’ ‘Why was I born?’ Let us say you have a child that is not intelligent, and you have difficulty accepting and loving the child. It is then that you spin into asking fundamental questions: ‘Why is there suffering in the universe?’ ‘If God is all good, where did bad come from?’ My guru, Sri Bhagavan, says that fundamental questions do not have answers. It is a trick of the mind for its continued survival. The mind is not interested in the answers; it is only interested in perpetuating itself with another question. Its pastime is to further the internal dialogue, and engage in thought processes that will help it distract itself from pain. Even if an answer were provided, it would create further questions from the answer and continue its obsession. The question will forever remain a question.
• Is it easy for you to arrive at results when you ask yourself some functional questions? Are you comfortable with the questions that come to you and do you arrive at the answers without much conflict? If not, you have not yet prioritised your life.
• Are you in a depressed state? If you are, please recognise the negative questions that are probably fermenting within, and work at arriving at better questions. Consistently shift your question each time you find yourself bogged down by a depressive question. When you do this over a period of time, you will definitely attain a better psychological state, and your responses to life would be more constructive.
• Are you troubled by a fundamental question right now? Have you mortgaged your life to a question?
It is time that you either worked constructively towards taking your life to its dream destination, or learnt to accept what cannot be changed.
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