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Why Asking Yourself "Why" is the Most Important Question There Is

When Socrates was put on trial and sentenced to death for inciting the young, he said in response, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Leave it to Socrates to give us a teachable moment on the eve of his execution.

While scholars have argued about the exact meaning behind his words for centuries, I think it’s pretty clear; the only reason for being on this earth is to get to know ourselves. Everything else is pointless.

What’s interesting is how society still discourages us from doing that. Socrates had the same problem back in his day, only worse. People were expected to blindly follow the rules, worship the government sanctioned gods, and not question anything. Socrates was put to death because he encouraged personal and spiritual growth, and the government believed that too many people thinking outside of the box was dangerous.

It’s not so different now. The same attitude still exists, just without the poison.

When we make the decision to examine our lives, we begin to see deeply held beliefs and patterns of behavior that we created because of someone else’s idea of how the world should be. We might question those beliefs and find that they don’t make much sense.

Our society seems to prefer a mildly dissatisfied, unaware population that tries to give their lives meaning by buying shiny new things and being so busy that they don’t have time to question anything.

I even see this happen in the metaphysical community, which is made up of people who like to question everything.

I’ll give you an example. I was given my Reiki first degree by a Japanese master. They have completely different beliefs about energy healing in her country, so the use of tools like crystals and sage to clear a space of “negative” energy isn’t included in their Reiki training. Tools are considered unnecessary, as Reiki energy vibrates much higher than anything physical, so using a physical item is less effective than using the Reiki itself to clean and clear a space.

The first time I mentioned to another Reiki practitioner that I didn’t use anything to clear my room but the Reiki symbols, she looked at me in horror and said “You don’t use sage? That’s crazy! You need to use sage!”

She seemed really panicked about it, so I panicked and started using sage. It didn’t really seem to make a difference, though, and I hated the smell, so I eventually stopped.

I asked her why she thought sage was better than using energy to keep a space energetically clean, and she said “It’s an ancient technique that’s been passed down to healers for centuries.”

When I told her that I understood that, but continued to question, she got mad at me and dropped the conversation.

I was really confused by her anger, because I assumed that as a healer like me, she would want to understand the “why” and “how” of things. If we already knew everything that there is to know about healing, we would be like Jesus, poke people on the forehead, say “be healed,” and whatever was wrong with them would disappear.

I realized that by questioning her use of sage to clear a space of negative energy and entities, I made her doubt its effectiveness, which made her uncomfortable and a little fearful. Using sage made her feel like she was in control of her space because it kept the shadows and the scary monsters at bay. By asking “why,” I was questioning her faith that she could keep herself safe from the ugly, unseen world out there.

She saw my questions as dangerous.

“Why” is such a tiny little word, but it can wreak havoc on society. Its use can start revolutions, topple governments, reform religions. It can cause the death of wise men like Socrates.

It can also cause the death of outmoded ways of thinking within ourselves.

If you find that you aren’t very happy, start asking yourself “why.” If you hate your job, ask yourself why you are staying in it. Do you really need all of the things that the job you hate pays for? Do you need them, or do you just think you do because society tells you that if you own them, you’re successful?

If you have specific beliefs about healing or your own personal evolution, examine them. The only way to create change in your life is to commit the radical act of self-contemplation.

When you ask “why,” you bring your shadows to surface, which is exactly where they need to be in order for you to heal them. You can find patterns of behavior in any parts of your life that are keeping you stuck and incapable of moving forward or changing.

Barbara Buck is a Foundational Reconnective Healing Practitioner, writer, and teacher. For more information about her, please visit her website at Check her out on the Happy Empaths Twitter feed @the_empath.

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