Curiosity is the mother of philosophy, religion, and science

Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning (William A. Ward)

The miraculous power that will drive man to the far reaches of the universe isn’t anything tangible, such as rocket fuel or time travel. The power that will get him there comes from within. It is his insatiable appetite to explore. It is called curiosity. Just as infants tirelessly delight in exploring their immediate surroundings, man is driven to extend himself. He stretches out into space and reaches deep within himself, examining his own genes. Each new discovery leads to new questions, which calls for further exploration. Therefore, we travel on an endless road, motivated by the excitement we experience with each new discovery. Curiosity is the mother of philosophy, religion, and science.

Curiosity is a sacred gift. That’s why Einstein called it “holy” when he wrote, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery everyday. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Despite the treasure we have inherited at birth, many of us have become jaded, allowing the candle of curiosity to burn out. The result is devastating. We are surrounded by lost souls, drifting without a purpose, unaware of the wonder that surrounds them. They wander in a trance in search of happiness that eludes them. What happened? What went wrong? Many have been taken in by the false promises of advertising. We are told by the media that happiness comes from leading the “good life.” Material possessions, an attractive mate, and leisure time are the sources of happiness, so we are told.

But what happens when we accept the bait and follow this empty dream? Well, let’s look at an example. A young man thinks he can make big bucks in the Information Technology field, so he enrolls in an IT school. After entering, he discovers he has to study monster-size books. Soon, he is thinking, “Hey! No fair! Where’s my leisure time? These books are b-o-r-i-n-g!!” If he graduates, what is his reward? More books! Bigger books! A lifetime of study! To stay employed, he will have to keep abreast of the ever-changing technology.

Now, compare the above with another case. A young woman never lost her childhood curiosity. She finds life exciting. Especially today, for there’s so much to discover. She’s fascinated by the information and communication explosion, so she enrolls in an IT school to learn more. Once she receives her textbooks she begins to think, “Wow, look at the size of these books! Imagine how much I am going to learn!”

The first young man was chasing after the “good life.” He wanted to lead a life of leisure, wealth, and ease. He soon discovered, however, that he wouldn’t have the leisure he dreamed of. Resentful of the material he has to study, he never fully masters it. As a result, he doesn’t earn much money either. Poor guy, his dreams are shattered. He will probably wind up changing careers, only to experience frustration again. The problem is not with the job, but with his motivation. After all, if we take the wrong path, we end up in the wrong place.

What about our young woman in the example I gave? She wasn’t in search of the “good life,” but an exciting life. A life of endless discovery. How could she not be thrilled by the technological miracles she researched? Needless to add, she excelled in school and later established her own successful company. The “good life,” you see, came in search of her.

If we are unhappy in our present place of employment, there’s no point in changing our job until we change our attitude. We need to change our perception, our awareness. We need to rekindle our curiosity and rediscover the joy of learning and creation. When we follow the right path, we will arrive at the right place. Remember, no time, place, or position is the wrong point to begin. Regardless of our age or job, we can always reignite our curiosity and set foot on the right road.

Why should you go on living? To satisfy your curiosity! How do we conquer boredom? With curiosity! How do we protect democracy and guard the environment? Isn’t it by being curious enough to question the statements of politicians and big business, while searching out the truth?

Your life doesn’t stop at the walls of your home or apartment. It extends outward, beyond the walls. There is a limitless universe and a bottomless ocean of knowledge waiting to be explored.

Can we make any progress without curiosity? Don’t we need to ask an endless series of questions? Questions like, “Is our community moving in the right direction? Why do we have homelessness? Why do some turn to crime? Are heinous crimes committed by evil people or sick people? If sick, how can we help them while protecting society? Should humanity control its own evolution? Is time travel possible? How will life extension affect society? Will computers develop consciousness?” The joy of life not only flows from our personal discoveries, but also from learning the solutions offered by others. Who knows? The next exciting thing I learn may be something you have discovered.