One of our greatest philosophers said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The impact from the teachings of Socrates continues to be felt today as discussion groups gather to interact through the exploration of a thought-provoking question. The Socrates Café, as it is known, founded by Christopher Phillips in 1996, meets monthly throughout the nation as well as other countries. It is comprised of small groups that have a quest for looking deeper into the meaning of life. Ideas are explored and developed through a question voted on by the group. There is no consensus required, nor judgment of thought. It is merely an opportunity to gather and exchange ideas.
Why has this 5th century thinker been such a strong force today in our lives? People have a yearning to know the truth about their existence. Our questions range from, “Where did I come from?” “What am I doing here?” “Why do we die?” and “Where am I going?” Some people are acutely conscious of the search and pursue it with passion; others seek it passively, and still others are oblivious or disinterested. They have not yet awakened to the quest. One thing we do know is that their time will come. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It is the nature of the soul, our essence, the being, to know itself.
Posing a question to ourselves allows us to introspect, discover, evaluate and ponder. In other words, it’s an opportunity to get to know yourself by examining everything under the sun and beyond. It is most important to answer the questions we’ve been living with before we get to the universal questions of life, death and the other great “whys” we eventually ask. Questions like, “why do I feel so incomplete being alone? Something like an unfinished symphony. I actually need to be in relationship, but why?” Allow yourself to open the Pandora’s box of your mind and use the pick ax of your intention to chip away to the answers. Being aware that you may have a lack of self-love and self-worth closes the chasm of confusion and self-pity. Never wanting to admit that you’re yearning for another to fulfill your emptiness is big. These are the challenging questions that will ultimately bring you to a place of contentment and bliss. Questions are revealing and that’s the whole idea.
We can benefit tremendously when we recognize we are either being frightened to explore another point of view while exploring the question. We become rigid and unwilling to entertain another perspective. Especially when we have an investment at stake. We’ll do anything to maintain our righteous position. The deeper the fear the deeper in strength in grows. “I’m right, which means you must be wrong.” There’s nothing to discuss, let alone explore. Know anybody with these qualities?
Being contemplative about a question allows us to stop our incessant “doingness” and be still long enough to reflect—a worthwhile departure from our active lives. When we look more intently into questions like the following, we exercise and stimulate our brains, as well as discover how our thinking actually works. Often we discover the questions can’t be answered without inserting our own beliefs into the mix.
Unearthing and exposing our thoughts can be perceived as favorable, threatening or even a confusing experience. We may feel a sense of intimidation as we examine our thoughts. However, the bottom line is, we are better off to have challenged ourselves than to believe our thinking is always right. Did you know that what you think defines your beliefs and those beliefs can create happiness or misery, success or failure, confidence or low self-esteem? It’s true. Even more difficult to accept is that our thoughts have an impact on the world around us, but they do.
Self-examination is crucial to personal growth. Once you begin the process, you will never stop, as one change in thinking triggers another. Here are five steps to start the process of thought expansion in your life. Practice with it and discover that you can fall back on this method each time you come up against a challenging situation that you would rather change than live with.
We can educate ourselves about ourself simply by asking a question. When we become aware of ourselves, we trigger our deepest potential for happiness, abundance and health.
Use the magic of the question to know your partner more intimately, to understand your child, or your neighbor, but mostly use it to “know thyself,” words from yet another famous Greek philosopher. When you know yourself, you will begin to know your world in a uniquely empowered way.