In the Spring brochure, I wrote about questions, such as how children ask questions in order to learn, while adults tend to hide their curiosity so they do not appear to be less knowledgeable than the people around them. I focused on the type of questions that can be answered through known facts or through research: Why is the sky blue? Why does this pose stretch the hamstrings more than that pose?
There is such a wealth of information available now through sources such as newspapers, books, and the Internet. It is amazing to think about scholars centuries ago who could in theory read the majority of the books that had been printed up to that time. Now we cannot possibly read the majority of the works on even a single subject. A search on the Internet for the word “yoga” produced 1,829,335 results in less than 20 seconds, showing that there is more available than we can ever hope to absorb. When we have a basic question, there is so much information accessible that it can be overwhelming, but it seems that if we search long enough, we will be able to find answers to whatever questions we have.
Even with all of this information available at our fingertips, the questions that concern us the most are questions that cannot be answered through research. The answers to questions such as What should I be when I grow up? What should I do in my retirement? What would make me happy? cannot be found in books. Many times we turn to others with these questions, but their answers cannot completely satisfy us either. They have had different influences and experiences, so the best they can do is tell us what would satisfy them.
A few years ago, one of my friends made a major life change. She had spent years as an accountant and was doing very well at a local firm. However, she was never quite happy there and started to think about changing jobs. As she thought about it and questioned the options open to her, she decided instead to change careers.
After several months of thought and sessions with a career counselor, she discovered that social work suited her best. Many of her friends advised against this major career change, but she went ahead with her new plan, leaving her job and going back to school full time. She graduated a year ago and is much happier with her current profession.
When we ask a question, we may see several options and our friends may offer more, but the true answer to a personal question must come from within. In asking somebody else for their opinion about a personal matter, the best they can do is offer advice, for they cannot make the decision for us. It is through thought and self-study that we discover which option is best for us.
There is a concept in Eastern philosophy called dharma. Dharma can mean duty, but it can also mean following the guidance of your inner nature. We all have our own unique path to take in life, and what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another. The way to find our dharma is by making the time for thoughtful self study. By stopping and asking questions of ourselves, we can find the answers that are right for us.