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What You Ask is Who You Are

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Is the humble question the divine spark that transubstantiates brain into mind and spirit? To recover your birthright to the adventure of becoming and individual, throw the net of your inquiring mind as wide as possible.

This article appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of Spirituality & Health. I seem to be a traveler on a journey to an unknown destination. Some longing, some missing X, keeps me searching for a holy grail that is hidden just beyond the mist. That we are mindful or spiritual animals means that we are animated by a quest for something more than bread and shelter. Our reach always exceeds our grasp. The great mono-myth of the hero with a thousand faces converts the process by which we become self-transcending into a dramatic narrative of quest and conquest in the external world. But the greatest travelers may never stray more than a few miles from home. Indeed, they may be confined to a wheelchair, as is Stephen Hawking. The road is not clay nor is the path through oaks or elms. The grail is no cup that once held wine or hemlock. We need to translate the metaphors of quest, journey, and path into more exact language. The heroes and heroines are the men and women who ask new questions and open our minds and spirits to new possibilities. In the beginning is the brain. And the brain is a biologic …

Sam Keen, whose Psychology Today conversations brought Joseph Campbell, Norman O. Brown, and other seminal thinkers to national attention, holds two M.A.s in theology from Harvard and a Princeton Ph.D. in philosophy. His books include the best-seller Fire in the Belly, Hymns to an Unknown God, and his most recent, Learning to Fly: Trapeze – Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go.


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