The word question comes from the word quest, which means to search for something. In the etymological dictionary, the verb quest dates to the late 14th century. It refers to the medieval romantic sense of adventure undertaken by a knight, especially a search for the Holy Grail.

When you ask a question, you are embarking on a journey! The Buddha, for example, started his famous journey with a question. One day, he left his father’s protective care, ventured outside the royal palace and saw sick people, old people, and people in fear and anxiety. He asked, “What’s the cause of this misery?” Now that’s a big question! The power of this single question opened the door to his life of contemplation and enlightenment. The most important journey in your life also begins when you dare to ask big questions.

“I’m no Buddha,” you might protest. “How can I be compared to him?” We are all one question away from entering the path to enlightenment. Enlightenment doesn’t require formal education. You are born fully equipped to penetrate the mysteries of the universe. You must ask.

The opening statement of the Vedānta-sūtra is athāto Brahma jijñāsā: Now that you’re a human, Ask!  Ask, “What’s the purpose of life?:” Animals also ask questions. Birds get up earlier than most others, but they can only ask the four survival questions: how to eat, sleep, mate, and defend. The yoga texts say that humans too need to ask survival questions, but to be happy, they must ask bigger questions.

Social scientist Maslow opines that humans must go beyond just fulfilling their basic requirements to be happy. Creature comforts are not enough to satisfy the human spirit. Srimad Bhagavatam states, “Be healthy. Be balanced. But do so that you can vigorously inquire about the purpose of your life.” “Eat to live; don’t live to eat.”

So, the statement, athāto brahma jijnāsā says to all humans: “Now’s your big chance to ask important questions; ones that go beyond merely the comfort or the survival of your body.” They also remind us that our physical bodies will not ultimately survive, anyway.

“Why work just to eat?” asks Srimad Bhagavatam. With just enough work, we can obtain our physical necessities. The squirrels in my backyard here in California certainly do some work to get their necessities, but their needs are plentifully available to them in every season. In winter, they get a free new coat and persimmons to eat. In spring and summer, they choose various fruits and nuts. In autumn, they work at stashing a few nuts for the oncoming winter.

What about spiders? They literally “hang out” in webs, which they remarkably know how to construct without a college degree; their food, bugs, are somehow plentifully available. In undisturbed habitats, elephants find the tons of foliage they need to fill their bellies each day. Srimad Bhagavatam prompts us, “If animals get their basic needs by nature’s arrangement, wouldn’t humans also get such facilities?” Humans, then, should at least dedicate some of their valuable lives to pursue self-realization.

Therefore, the yoga texts advise: “become a master asker.”  Ask penetrating, spiritual questions like, “Where do I come from? What is the ultimate purpose of life? Where am I going after death?” Asking questions that lead us to spiritual discovery is our primary duty as humans, says Srimad Bhagavatam.

My upcoming book, The Four Questions, gives tools that will lead you to the solutions to life’s fundamental problems and take you by the hand onto the path of the enlightened beings. Use these four questions to become a master asker! Sign up for updates on the book’s release here: www.thefourquestionsbook.com.

Source: https://vaisesikadasa.com/en/questions-are-the-answer/

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