The Questioning Attitude

2000-8-6 10:05:00

Paul writes:

"JJ, from your answer to your question I could not convince myself that your 'disciple' is the 'disciple' as implicitly defined by DK. You may want to define your 'discipleship'."


I spoke of one approaching discipleship, not necessarily a full fledged disciple.



"Almost everyone asks questions."


I have not found this to be true from my experience. Whenever I have been in any class either as a teacher or student there have been two or three asking questions and the rest relatively silent. Whenever I have discussed philosophy with others I have found that few have questioned what they have learned.

All people do ask some questions but they are usually related to the assignment at hand making the question part of following orders to learn rather than original thought.



"Preeminently scholars or intellectuals ask questions in their own particular fields of interest."


But most of them do not question their authorities. They usually ask questions to merely reinforce their belief system.



"Those who just made a reorientation from a mundane to a spiritual life, the aspirants in general, do ask more questions about spiritual matters than others."


This thought is heading the direction I am seeking.



"Would you call all these scholars, intellectuals, aspirants and possibly other mentally active people disciples?"


Disciples and aspiring disciples are found in all fields of human endeavor. If you find one asking questions requiring independent thought then there is evidence that the person is on the path.



"Maybe the question is what you mean by asking questions. Yet what could it mean but asking questions? Are you sure that your list is complete or that it does include the one characteristic which defines discipleship?"


The list is far from complete, but arranged so asking questions is the most correct answer.

The aspiring disciple not only asks more questions, but asks a different kind of question than does the average person.

Here are some examples:

Authoritative Teacher:  "The sun is the hottest orb in the solar system."

Average student:  No question. He just accepted what he has been told.

Above average student:  "How hot is it?"

Aspiring disciple:  "How can you prove it is the hottest? Do you know the temperature at Jupiter's core?"

Disciple : "What makes you so sure the sun is hot? After all microwave energy in an appliance is not hot until it reaches its destination."


Authoritative Teacher:  "A lone gunman killed US President John F. Kennedy."

Average student:  No question. He just accepted what he has been told.

Above average student:  "What about the reports of a conspiracy?"

Aspiring disciple:  "What about the magic bullet theory? How do you explain that?"

Disciple:  "Let me ask some questions about the probable root cause of the assassination. I have a question related to his mob connections..."


Authoritative Teacher:  "The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. Nothing can go faster than this."

Average student:  No question. He just accepted what he has been told.

Above average student:  "Isn't the exact speed of light 186,232 miles per second?"

Aspiring disciple:  "What about the case of a galaxy traveling 120,000 miles per second away from the earth and then another galaxy traveling 120,000 miles per second away from the earth in the opposite direction? Wouldn't this mean that they are traveling 240,000 miles per second away from each other relative to the earth? Is not this faster than light?"

Disciple:  "Not too long ago they thought we could not travel faster than sound. Now there seems to be a correspondence between light and sound, in other words light is sound vibrating at a faster rate. Would this not mean that the light barrier could also be surpassed?"


Authoritative Teacher:  "The Stigmata is a sign from God."

Average student:  No question. He just accepted what he has been told.

Above average student:  "What causes the Stigmata?"

Aspiring disciple:  "What makes you think it is a sign from God? Is it not possible that there is a natural cause?"

Disciple:  "Isn't it possible that this is a sign of a person's intense belief system manifesting reality rather than a sign from God?"


I could have added one more category here and that is the pseudo-intellectual. This guy asks questions to show off his own intelligence more than with the idea of learning anything. An example would be the above student who corrects the teacher with a more exact reference to the exact speed of light. This correction was not necessary to help in the point the teacher was making.

One thing to notice about these questions is that as we progress from the average student to the disciple we find the questions will be more challenging to the status quo, more independently thought out, and less likely to follow the line of least resistance.

This illustrates that when I speak of an aspiring disciple asking questions, I do not mean just any question, but that he acquires a questioning mind which questions mainstream thought.

Isaiah wisely said:  "He that believeth doth not make haste."

The disciple, or aspiring disciple, will not believe in haste what he has been told. He will check it out and question it no matter how unpopular he is for doing so.

Now we move on to the twentieth principle in the discovery of truth which is:

"Plant a seed thought in your mind and heart, and feed this thought with contemplation and meditation. Observe the fruit that comes forth, and accept that which is sweet and registers with your soul."

What is a seed thought and why is this a viable tool in the discovery of truth?


"When poets talk of the 'shoreless ocean of immutability' we must regard the term but as a jocular paradox, since we maintain that there is no such thing as immutability -- not in our Solar system at least. Immutability say the theists and Christians 'is an attribute of God,' and forthwith they endow that God with every mutable and variable quality and attribute, knowable as unknowable, and believe that they have solved the unsolvable and squared the circle."
  -- Koot Hoomi (Djwhal Khul); Mahatma Letters #11