…and other stupid questions
When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.
As many of you know, I am trying my hand at teaching a college course at a local community college in Minneapolis. I am teaching a course in their Global Health and Healing department entitled Energy Medicine. It is a survey course along with personal investigation into the healing methods of various treatment modalities, both ancient and modern, which view our physical bodies as energy and attempt to balance our energies to facilitate health and wellbeing. To give the students a personal experience of the various approaches to balancing the energies of the body, I invite a practitioner each week to be a guest lecturer and present their healing modality in the class.
Last week we had a wonderful presentation from a practitioner and instructor of Yoga. She spoke for nearly two hours on the history and practice of yoga and gave a demonstration of strengthening and balancing the chakras. At the end of her presentation, she opened up the class for questions. One student in the back of the classroom enthusiastically raised his hand. When called upon he asked the most unusual question,
“Can you levitate?”
The class broke out into laughter. I was somewhere between irritated and embarrassed at such a question posed to our distinguished and dedicated guest. I was ready to renege on my pedagogical mantra of “There are no stupid questions.”
The laughter, and my mild irritation, quickly subsided once we all realized the student was utterly sincere in his question. The snickering was replaced by the hush of anticipation as all eyes turned to our guest. To our surprise and I think to the surprise of the yoga practitioner, the answer came out of her mouth.
“Well, there was this master at the ashram in Tibet where I studied…”
She then went on to state that she had never levitated but that she had heard stories of one of her teachers that such miracles were common around him when he meditated.
Strangely enough, in the exchanges that resulted, the entire presentation achieved a new level of interest and meaning. We all began to understand that yoga is not just about gaining strength, flexibility and oxygenating your body through breathing. We understood that it was about exploring and fulfilling our human potential as divine beings. Though our intellects were not satisfied by the certainty of an answer to this question, we all found our imaginations captivated by the question itself.
The student’s question has haunted my thinking ever since that day. It was not prefaced with, “You might think this is stupid but…” It was simply, straightforwardly and sincerely asked. As a result, the entire conversation was elevated to a new level. We were spontaneously transported to a higher level of awareness and understanding. Studying our subject was transformed into relating to an idea and to one another. Though, I suspect most did not notice, I swear, there was even a glow that was added to the room.
It seems that the ability to move from “the real world” into fantasy were among Einstein’s most prized qualities. How easy it is to forget that the idea for his theory of relativity, which enlightened science and made cell phones possible, came to him in the form of a daydream.
Perhaps there are times as you deal with others when, like me, you wonder, “Is there really such a things as a stupid question?” As a leader who wants to encourage true wisdom and understanding, I have decided I do have an answer.
Is there really such a thing as a stupid question?
I hope so!