Masthead Image

Excerpts - "Why" Questions

Excerpt from Newport Beach Workshop #19-20*
(*Audience participation is in parentheses--notations in brackets have been added for clarification )

(Are we responsible for everything in our existence?)

Well, I don't know all you include in "your" existence. For instance, there's windstorms, rainstorms and hurricanes that come along in some people's existence. Are you including those kinds of things in the existence you're asking me if you are responsible for? I don't know--ask yourself.

(I mean the things that happen to us like accidents and the good things.)

That's in the "I don't know department." I only look at "What can I do about it." I'm not interested in attempting to answer "Why" questions. I'm finding that any time you answer a "why" question, the next question is "why that?" And I don't want to get caught in that score of answering "why anything happened" but very interested is seeing what I can do about the present situation; and I'm not interested in philosophizing, describing, or explaining as to "why" that happened.

Now I don't know "why" you were born a girl and Charles was born a boy--I can deal with the fact that you're that way, but I don't know "why". And as far as I'm concerned you're asking me a "why" question--can you answer "why did this happen" and "why did that happen" and "why did this person have a flat tire", and "this one had an accident" and "this one didn't?" I can't answer that question; and I don't want to get caught in any "why" questions. To me you're asking me a "why" question, I've turned them down ever since you've known me--I don't care what it was about, right?

I don't know "why" anything happens, but I can see what to do about it after it gets here. That's the only thing I know.

(Are we responsible for our ____unintelligible________?)

Yes, we generally choose how we're going to see things. One person sees a given situation as "very bad", another one in the situation sees it as "fine". We are responsible for how we choose to see things; which is another way of seeing "What can I do about it?"

I have had the question that Debbie asked thrown at me several different times which involves "Did you bring about the ingrown toenail?" Did you bring about the accident on the street?" Did you bring about the flood that washed away your building and so forth." I don't know. So, I'm not trying to answer a "why" question. I don't know "why" these things happen. We see what we can do. If the building's washed away, I can start rebuilding or move to higher ground.



More on "Why" Questions

Tuesday Night Talks-Attitudes--Newport Beach 10/21/80

On the workshop they've been discussing "why" as above and we join the workshop when someone says:

(So rather than ask why…..)

See what you can do about it and forget it.

(I can see the agony after the fact.)

You see the original authority in the world was called a Shaman. He was the combination of the King, the Priest, the big business man and the physician--it was all bottled up in one called the Shaman. He found out that people were always asking "why" questions; and so he capitalized on it by starting a business answering "why" questions for fees. He became the head honcho in all primitive tribes. And, of course, all humanity has never gotten over wanting to have a Shaman. They want to ask "why" and the Shaman gives us an answer.

So one year the berries didn't do well and the people ran down to the Shaman and said "How come there isn't a lot of blackberries this year?" The Shaman said: "Well, I'll have to inquire into this." "To get the answer, you bring me several coonskins and a couple of flat axes and I'll figure it out."

So the Shaman came back in a while and said, "You offended the berry God." "Now I will have to take an offering to him." "You bring me 25 coonskins and 20 axes and I will go down and make an offering and a sacrifice; and next year there will be berries." So you had to appease the berry god.

Next year something else wouldn't happen. So the "why" question was, "How come the bison weren't as thick this year." So, again, the Shaman would find out "for a price" how he could appease the bison god.

And we're still working at it. We haven't gained an inch. We're still asking "why" and still getting a Shaman of sorts to give us an answer for a fee; and then he's says he'll make peace with the gods. Some of them says, "You just can't make peace with this god you call Leukemia." "You just can't make peace with the durn thing, but you can keep trying." "Let's lay a few thou in front of him and see if we can appease him.

(Didn't you say before you make a decision or before you do something to step back first……)

And let It work.

(…..let It work and then you get the response inside.)

From Life which is the only Guru. Forget all the rest of the "stuff" that's going on in your head all the time--forget all the not "I's" and the rattling. Let the head be quiet for a minute where Life can talk. Life is very polite. People butt in on each other. You're saying something and I butt in. Or I say something then you butt in. Life is very polite--It doesn't speak until your head is quiet. That's why I say sit back and let it alone for a minute. Let it be real quiet and then something will happen.

Usually we're so busy telling Life "what to do" and "how to do it" and "why it should be done". Life never butts in and interferes. So all each of us gets is the rattling of all the not "I's".


more concerning the "Why" question

excerpt from the Tampa, November 3, 1985 workshop]

[We join the workshop as my teacher says we feel that we are entitled to total understanding...]

The final one is feeling that you're entitled to total understanding. That's represented by asking "why" questions. When you ask a "why" question about humans and etc., you don't usually get an answer right away. "Why did she do that?" "Why did he do that?" "Why did this happen?" We busy ourselves considerably with "why" questions. The only reason we ask a "why" question is that we feel we're entitled to have total understanding--or an "explanation" for everything. I don't think we'll ever find it out. We don't have to have a "why".

There is a little pointer in the brain; and when you ask a "why" question, the little pointer goes from brain cell to brain cell and taps on the door in each one and says, "Why that?" The cell says, "I don't know." So it knocks on the next one. Now you've all had this experience that you've met somebody on the street. They say "Hello Carl, how are you?" You haven't the foggiest idea who that character is. You go off down the street too embarrassed to ask, "Who are you?" You say to yourself, "Who was that--where did I know him?" After a while you put it out of your mind and go on. About three weeks later, you're brushing your teeth some morning; and all of a sudden it pops in your head that he was so and so, and you met him at a certain place. You have a great feeling of relief. Ever had that happen?

Now that little question that was put to the brain has been running from brain cell to brain cell--we have several billion of them--so the little pointer guy, the errand runner, the file clerk, has been running to each cell and asking "Who's that guy?" Finally the pointer guy found the brain cell that the answer was in, and the cell handed out the information. We, then, have a great feeling of relief. Now when you ask a "why" question such as, "Why did Susie do what she did?" That information is not recorded in your brain like the person who came up and said "Hi Carl." That "Hi Carl" information was recorded in there--it was lost because you hadn't heard of it in years. It took three weeks to find it; so it takes a long time for that little pointer guy to go to every brain cell. Once you ask the question, he doesn't stop.

Now if you say, "Why did Susie do so and so?" that's not recorded in the brain. The pointer goes and knocks on every cell there and each cell says, "Search me, I don't know?" So the pointer goes all the way around and then starts over again. Now you've made what's termed in computer language as an "infinite loop." It goes and goes and burns a computer out; but, thank heavens, it leaves us alone after a while. We're better built than a computer.

If we ask a dozen more "why" questions, then several little pointer guys start going around knocking on each brain cell door. Can you imagine how much anxiety is going on "in there". The pointer guys are trying to find the cells that have the information to your many many "why" questions, and the answer is not even in there. You got dozens of them--hundreds, thousands. When you see that all why questions are asking an impossible question, you cease to ask them. You say, "Hey guys, you can quit, that question was invalid--cancel." Then they'll quit running. You'll have a great sense of relief. It's like being born again. You got your brain back without all this clutter running around to every cell. Can you imagine every day and night every little cell is kept awake with "Why did this happen?" "Why did that happen." "Why can't the government stop this?"

Do you want to keep this up? You're never going to get an answer. It isn't in there. You don't know "why" anybody did anything.

A little boy taught me about "why" questions years ago. He was playing in the yard one evening and I said, "Danny, come in the house." The little boy looked at me and said, "Why." I said because it's getting dark. He said, "Why is it getting dark?" I said, "Because the sun's going over the hill." He said, "Why's it doing that?" I said, "That's the way the whole universe is made." I'm trying to do all the "stuff" in the "books." The next question was "Why'd they do that?" I said, "I guess that's the way the good Lord made it." He said, "Well, why'd he do it that way?" I said, "Shut up and come in the house." No matter what "why question" you think you've got an answer to, there's another "why" question right behind that. So there's no answer to any "why" question.

I've had college professors and a few other people tell me the idea that "why" questions didn't have an answer was totally stupid. They came back six months later and said, "Hey that was right, a "why" question doesn't have any answer." They checked it out.

So when a person sees that a "why" question has no answer, he can quit tormenting the brain, quit complaining, quit comparing and quit faultfinding. That requires another little chore for that point of awareness to get up and watch how many times we ask "why"; and then throw that "why" out! The awareness can show us how many times we were comparing when we didn't know it. When you're trying to do something that can't be done, you get very frustrated. It's a common every day frustrated feeling; but you can get so used to it that you think that's natural.

But if you ever go along one day without asking "why" and seeing what you can do about things as they are, you'll find that it is like being let out of prison. You can be out of all of the frustration.