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Asking Some Really Important Existential Questions

Little children are often very inquisitive and love asking questions. Why is the sky blue, they want to know. How come a rose smells so nice if it grows from mud? Why don’t fish have feet like people do? And so on. They want to know the why and what about many things they see around them.

By Robin, WordForPeace.com

Asking Some Really Important Existential Questions

One of the many features that distinguish human beings from other creatures is that human beings ask questions.

They seek answers to questions that perplex them. No other species does anything quite like that. Human beings are questioning beings.

Little children are often very inquisitive and love asking questions. Why is the sky blue, they want to know. How come a rose smells so nice if it grows from mud? Why don’t fish have feet like people do? And so on. They want to know the why and what about many things they see around them.

As we grow older, we continue to ask questions, although the sorts of questions might be different. We continue to raise queries about the world at large, and we also ask questions about issues related to our day-to-day concerns.

Be that as it may, there are certain basic questions about life that many of us, even some of us quite advanced in age, simply never care to ask, or even think about. These are some really fundamental questions related to our existence—or existential questions—such as:

Asking Some Really Important Existential Questions

  • Who am I really? Am I this body that I inhabit (that is constantly changing), or am I my mind (that is in constant flux)? Or, am I something other than these?

  • Where have I come from? Where, if at all, was I before my mother delivered me into this world?

  • Have I come about on my own, or did some Being or Force fashion me?

  • Why am I here, on this planet? If some Being or Force has sent me here, then how and why?

  • How, when and why did this planet (and the rest of the physical universe) come into being?

  • What is the purpose of human life? What are we meant to do or achieve while we are on Earth?

  • What happens when human beings die?

Now, as you might agree, one can hardly think of questions more basic to human existence than these. Having satisfactory answers to these questions is absolutely essential for leading a truly meaningful life. Without some sort of clarity on these issues one will likely completely waste one’s life.

Given how crucial these questions are for the way we spend our short span of time here on Earth, one would have thought that asking these questions and seeking answers to them would be among the top priorities for every single person. But, tragically, that is hardly the case.

In all my many years, in all my many conversations, I have hardly heard anyone (outside a set of persons who are inclined towards religion or spirituality) asking the above questions. As far as I can remember, not once did my parents (who were supposedly ‘well educated’) ever discuss these questions with me in any detail. Nor, if I recall rightly, were these questions ever raised in all the many educational institutions that I studied in (which were said to be among the ‘best’ around).

Now, isn’t that very strange? Isn’t it really absurd? Isn’t it terribly tragic? We love to ask all sorts of questions about all sorts of other things, but how few of us ever discuss and seek to get answers to the most basic questions of life!

Sometimes, I feel my parents and my teachers (at school, college and in the universities where I studied) really failed me. Surely, I think, it wouldn’t have required much effort and time on their part to encourage me to ponder on these existential questions and to seek answers to them. Had they done so, the course of my life might have been very different, and I might have been spared making some really painful blunders.

I am thankful, though, that later in life I came across some spiritually advanced people (from different parts of the world and from different religious and ethnic backgrounds), who inspired me to seek answers to these basic questions about life. Knowing now how important it is for people to have some sort of clarity with regard to these questions in order to use the gift of life in a truly meaningful manner, I would urge parents and teachers to consider it one of their primary duties to encourage the children under their care to think about these basic questions about life and seek to find answers to them. But before that, parents and teachers must have the necessary clarity and interest themselves.

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