Ever since, I’m well known for being the curious guy who is always asking the challenging and often uncomfortable questions. Questions about life, philosophy, religion, science, health, politics, or business. It may be to optimize my life, to innovate, to think outside the box, or to call bullshit and detect and fight corruption. Ultimately, I ask questions to find the truth.
I believe, this is something everyone should do. We all should question everything around us. Because the only solution to all of the surrounding misery is ultimately the truth. And we can only get to the truth by asking the challenging and tough questions – about everything.
Children Intuitively Question
Children intuitively question everything they observe. As they explore and try to make sense of their environment, they ask countless questions. Before we can explain why the grass is green, they dive into the science and philosophy of life, space, and time.
With the example of children, we can see that by questioning – you explore complex ideas. But not only that. You also uncover their implicit assumptions, you expose deeply held beliefs, and you recognize hidden contradictions.
As we can observe in our children, curiosity, and questioning are part of our natural intelligence. Why is it so difficult for us adults to maintain this innate curiosity to question everything around us?
Our education system is a major reason why most people lose their childhood curiosity and their innate skepticism. As soon we are six years old, we enter an education system which is entirely based on dogma. In school and later in university, we are forced to memorize facts. Nobody teaches us to question these facts and discover everything around us. In fact, challenging the facts gets punished – not rewarded. And because we only memorize and never question what we are being lectured, we never really engage with this knowledge, and thus we can never build upon it.
Instead of lecturing, we should focus on questioning – again.
Questioning from an Historical Perspective
The Buddha encouraged questioning. It is seen as a fundamental skill which is still embraced in the practices of modern Buddhists today. Tibetan Buddhist monks often have a daily practice of “debate” where one monk continually questions the other monk for an entire hour. The purpose of this practice was to train logic, mental concentration and intense exchange.
Socrates was well known as the questioner of everything. He also used questioning as a teaching method to explore the unknown and evaluate the validity of an argument. To do so, he asked questions after questions until his students arrived at their own understanding. He rarely revealed or lectured opinions or knowledge on his own, rather, he taught his students to dissect their thoughts and ideas by questioning everything. Even his death embodied the spirit of questioning every assumption, as he was condemned for death penalty because of his teachings.
Quite similar is Chavrusa, a traditional Jewish learning method. Chavrusa challenges a small group of students to analyze and explain the learning material to each other, point out errors in their partners’ reasoning, and sharpen each other’s ideas by questioning them. By doing so, they often arrive at entirely new insights into the meaning of a text they are studying.
The Chavrusa is beautifully showing how questioning takes the familiar and makes it mysterious again. There is no teacher lecturing the meaning. There is nothing to memorize. It removes the comfort of “knowing”. Instead of memorizing, you explore complex ideas on your own. You uncover their implicit assumptions, you expose deeply held beliefs, you recognize hidden contradictions. You develop your own sense, think more clearly and change the way you see and perceive reality.
Philosophy and Science as Oneness
Our current education and university system is not only focussing on lecturing facts, they are also trying to categorize everything into small categories and subjects. Scientists and educators then look at these tiny subjects only independently of each other – and ultimately miss what’s really going on.
This narrow-minded thinking leads to very abstract science and philosophies. We focus purely on terminology and thereby divide the world into logic and creativity. By separating logic and creativity, we ultimately miss the existential truth encompassing all of it.
For example, let’s assume you understand everything about the brain: neurochemistry, neurobiology and so forth. Does it mean you understand consciousness? No. Looking at a separate subject alone is not sufficient. To really understand our world, we need to look at the whole.
Separating logic and creativity is therefore nonsense. The word creativity itself comes from create. It is not only art and philosophy which you create. You also create plans, you create logical rules, you create science, and you create inventions. Science and philosophy are one – but we separated it into tiny little subjects which we only look at separately. But this is wrong and has not always been the case.
Philosophy and science were once very closely connected and inseparably intertwined. Both: logical argument and creative thinking were renowned ways to explore and explain the natural world. There weren’t many “facts” that were known for certain. The idea of using experiments and data to understand the world only started to become popular in the middle of the second millennium. Since then, science and philosophy have grown apart – both – in subjects and methodologies.
Today, you’ll rarely see scientists and philosophers exchanging ideas. But it is precisely what we need. We need philosophers questioning scientists and scientists questioning philosophers. Even more, what we need are people who integrate all the aspects of art, science, philosophy, and practical creation into one unified art of science.
Because science, philosophy, art, and spirituality are all one, you always have to be open-minded. You should never categorize yourself into one category, for example: “I’m a scientist” or “I’m an artist”. Instead, you have to be everything. You are an artist, a scientist, a philosopher, and you are spiritual. All at the same – because otherwise you will miss the wholeness as you only look at the world from a very limited perspective.
As soon we can grasp the wholeness of everything again, innovation, re-thinking, or going from Zero-to-One will become natural states of our inner-being again – not some innovation workshops we have to attend.
To innovate and discover new things, we first have to forget all the beliefs which we have of ourselves, like: ”I’m a logical person, I’m not creative”. This is bullshit.
Do everything – to discover everything: Art and science are one.
If you describe yourself today as a logical person, you might want to learn an art or craft, such as making music or painting. By being creative, you’ll learn that there is more than the logical mind.
If you describe yourself today as a very creative person, you might want to learn mathematics and physics. By doing so, you’ll learn about the significance of logic.
To make new discoveries and inventions, we finally have to start thinking for ourselves again. Many people believe they are thinking for themselves, which is gigantic bullshit. From the very first second of our lives, we have been conditioned with dogma and the desires of other people. People are naturally mimicking other people and other people’s desires.
Before we can make new discoveries, we have to first free ourselves from all the indoctrinated dogma we received. We have to free ourselves from all the limiting beliefs we have of ourselves. In other words: before we can discover new truths, we must start to think critically.
We have to have skepticism. We have to doubt our own experiences, our own standards, our own concepts. By questioning our own prejudices, beliefs, and conclusions, our mind becomes clearer and more active. We free our mind from conventional wisdom, from dogma, which helps us to discover what we want in life. It prevents us from doing the same which has already been done before. It prevents us from repeating mistakes and problems. It leads us to discover great new things – for our lives and the lives of others.
Discovery doesn’t mean that we have to endlessly sit and do research. For some people, yes. But for other people, discovery can also mean a practical mission to materialize things you envision.
This discovery process is a journey of life. In this journey, you need to be humble. Ultimately, it is about arriving at the truth. Still, we all have egos. Pay attention to it. People always want to be right. But trying to have the better argument prevents us from discovering truths.
Again: Question everything!
We are often afraid to ask the most challenging questions because when we challenge the core of our beliefs, we will have to admit to ourselves: “I know nothing and I have to start all over again.”
Questioning everything and being honest about it will hurt. It is worth it.
Ultimately, by questioning everything we see, read, know, and believe, we will enter a new age of great discoveries and thereby an abundance of prosperity and – most importantly – a lot of joy.