The power of a good question cannot be overstated. A good question is worth a thousand great answers. A question opens you up and living the question is how you grow.
The first step in one’s growth is not a step at all its stopping. Stop. Be still inside so you can see clearly, then start asking questions and live the questions and gradually you will achieve understanding and appreciation. Only then will growth be a part of you. This goes hand in hand with the post on the difference between knowledge and experience.
Asking questions is also a means of communicating. If you are trying to influence people, it is often more effective to ask a question than make a statement. For example- let’s say you are trying to get someone to realize they are out of shape and carry to much weight. If you say “you’re fat and need exercise,” whether you use these words or others, you’re likely to get a negative reaction. But what if you ask them a question? You might ask “how do you feel?” Or “do you generally have a lot of energy?” Or “what kinds of exercise do you enjoy?” In any case, asking them a question will help them open up to your information.
Asking questions also helps people learn things. Telling someone a truth is rarely as powerful or effective a way to get them to absorb it as is asking a question to make them think about it and arrive at a conclusion themselves. For instance, if you are trying to get people to see the illusion that is physical reality, you could say, “physical reality is an illusion.” This is probably not going to be as effective as asking them, “have you ever wondered what’s beyond the universe?” or “have you wondered if there is anything that exists that you can’t see, touch, or hear?”
Asking questions and living them are how you truly absorb Truth and learn and grow. Knowing things is helpful, but only if you’re not attached to your knowledge. “Knowing ignorance is strength and ignoring knowledge is sickness.” (Tao te Ching) practice asking questions in life and allowing yourself to live with some ambiguity. Many times people develop opinions, perceptions and attitudes based on incomplete information. Being able to see both sides and live with the tension of not knowing is actually an act of faith. Faith is being open to the truth, whatever it is. I learned this in “Christian Anthropology” from Father Francis Eigo at Villanova University. This was a powerful lesson. Belief is a form of knowledge. When you believe, you are closed. The issue is settled. You’ve decided. But being faithful means you’re open- the ultimate Truth (God) is inexplicable and beyond our limited ego-minds. We can experience it but cannot put it into words. So we can never “know” it. We get fleeting glimpses.
So asking questions is extremely powerful. If philosophy is the basis of all knowledge and science, questions are the basis of all philosophy.