BY ANGELA DIACO
We are all born philosophers. As children, we lived in a state of awe and would constantly ask questions to understand the magic around us. As we grow up, it seems like the world is more ordinary instead of extraordinary, but we know that the world can still be a wondrous place. Inside of us still lies that curious child that wants to ask the deep questions of life.
But why did we stop asking? For years in school we’re taught to follow the rules, never to speak out of turn, wait in line, and memorize facts for the purpose of passing a test and moving along to the next level. We may have come from families that didn’t like our questions or couldn’t nurture our curiosity with their limited resources. We may even find that somewhere along the way, we lost faith in our ability to find the answers to our questions.
The inquisitive child (and later, adult) can be beaten down by this weight of the world. When we leave grade school we find that the news, marketers, our universities, companies we work for, even the poor souls around us who have lost their way tell us to look outside of ourselves for fulfillment. This leads us away from those seemingly “useless” pursuits of asking why the sky was blue, or birds sing, or “how big is The Universe?” Without that attention to ourselves we fall into a sleep of sorts – we become more automated and robotic rather than human.
I believe philosophy is the remedy. Revisiting time-tested teachings such as Plato’s Republic, The Dhammapada, or ancient Egyptian culture remind us that others across history didn’t think our curious pursuits were useless – in fact, they were essential to creating the advancements in science that we enjoy today!
Perhaps the greatest gift of philosophy is actually the Encounter with Self. Self-knowledge is the most powerful quality that a human being can have.. and scariest as well. Confronted with a glimpse of a hidden inner self, we seem like strangers even to ourselves.
When we get in touch with who we truly are inside, we connect with potential and possibility. Suddenly, we can dream again and ask the big questions: what’s life all about? What am I doing here, for what purpose? “Know Thyself..” is the famous aphorism written on the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi which finishes: “And you will know the gods and the universe.” When we begin to discover the truth within, we can recognize the magic in the world outside. All of a sudden Life looks a little different, a little more profound, and somehow we’ve changed – for the better.