ESSENTIAL LIFE QUESTIONS. . .

Essential = essence, basic, indispensable and inherent.                                                             Life = from birth to death
Questions = there are three types of these: questions to respond to immediately, questions to respond to after a time, and questions to ‘hold,’ live into and, over time, perhaps a response will emerge.

I have been thinking about these types of questions for more than twenty-seven years.  At one time I called them Fundamental Questions of Existence, now I experience them as Essential Life Questions.  These are questions to hold and live into – life questions; they are not questions that I seek to answer and then let go of; still, these are questions to address now and in the future (the future being a series of ‘nows’).  So, I these are Essential Life Questions, questions to hold, consider, ponder, respond to, and perhaps to live into.

In order to better serve you, gentle reader, I offer some ideas to consider:

  • It seems crucial for one to be awake to and aware of which part of ‘self’ is asking a particular question.  For example, which questions would I choose to ask from my heart and which from my head?  Which do I ask from my ‘public self’ and which do I ask from my ‘private self’?  Which do I ask from a deep place of ‘not-knowing’ (from my ‘unconscious-self’ and/or from a place of truly not-knowing).
  • Socrates advised us to know ourselves; given this: What assumptions do I hold that influence my asking a particular question; for example, do I hold an assumption that people are inherently good?
  • Robert K. Greenleaf, the Father of Servant-Leadership, noted that ‘to refuse to examine the assumptions one lives by is immoral’ and so what questions will help me discern and name some of my deep tacit assumptions?
  • Consider holding each question in the ‘now’ – literally, at this given moment, what is my response to each question.  I offer this because at any given moment I might well respond to each question differently and over time I might then discern a larger pattern or a variety of responses (some of my responses will be influenced by the ‘context’).
  • Questions also connect us to choice:  What will I choose right now – love or resentment, compassion or judgment, forgiveness or revenge?  Perhaps a story would help:

Once upon a time there lived deep in the forest a family.  At night the grandfather would sit by the fire and his granddaughter would sit close by; as they sat in silence a question would emerge from the little girl.  This one night, however, the silence was broken by the grandfather.  He said, in his soft, quiet voice: ‘Do you know that I have two tigers living within me and they are fighting.  One tiger is full of anger, rage, spite, and resentment and the other is full of love, compassion, caring, and empathy.’  The little girl looked up intently at her grandfather and after some time of silence finally asked, ‘Grandfather, which one will win?’  Her grandfather looked lovingly at his granddaughter and responded: ‘The one I feed!’

Some questions might require me to be intentional about my environment: As I know myself, what is the environment that will provide me a safe and quiet place for reflection? How much time do I need to spend within this environment?  What would it take for me to create a ‘reflective-environment’? 

  • Consider that the questions might help you see a deeper understanding rather than achieve a goal; it helps to hold this if I believe that who I am determines the actions that I choose.
  • As you sit with the questions you might also hold this question: Which question is so important at this time that it becomes difficult to think about anything else?

This morning, gentle reader, I have decided to share a number of questions with you; these are embedded in specific ‘categories.’  They are questions that continue to be, for me, ‘Essential Life Questions.’

IDENTITY QUESTIONS                                                                                                        
Who has influenced me such that I am ‘who I am’ at this time in my life?
Who am I at this time in my life?
Who am I choosing to become?
Why am I choosing this becoming?
 

PURPOSE QUESTIONS
Why am I here?  At this time, what is my purpose in life?
Why do I choose to get up each morning?
How do I know if I am awake and aware to my life’s purpose?  How do I know if I am asleep?
How do I help others find/affirm their life’s purpose?
 

MEANING QUESTIONS
What really matters?
How do I make meaning out of my life?
What do I choose to focus on at this time in my life?  Why?
How do I help others find meaning?
How do I uncover my deepest assumptions?
How do I know that I have ‘free will’?
What does ‘self-reflection’ mean?  (Socrates prided himself for being one who know how little he knew; he gained this insight via self-reflection)
 

MISSION QUESTIONS
What is my ‘call’?  How do I know?
What is a need that exists in the/my world that my gifts, talents and abilities can help address?
How do I respond (have I responded) to this need?
To what extent am I purposefully engaged or just endlessly busy?
To what extent does my work challenge me in meaningful ways (versus just being stress-inducing)?

 

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