The Five Dimensions of Curiosity Why Do We Categorize People

Why Do We Categorize People — The Five Dimensions of Curiosity

Why do we categorize people? The curiosity approach explained by Osho humanity gives us a way to identify which of the five dimensions of curiosity applies to us. Find out which of these best describes you.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, better known as Osho, was a controversial spiritual leader from India. He came to the United States of America to set up a spiritual community in rural Oregon. Although his experiment to build a utopian community was unsuccessful, he did leave us with some insightful lessons about spirituality and human nature, one of which is the way he grouped people according to their level of spiritual curiosity.

Curiosity is a crucial element that drives humans toward knowledge and enlightenment. It is what pushes us to question the unknown and seek the truth. However, not all curiosity is equal. Some individuals are more curious than others, and this is where understanding the five dimensions of curiosity comes into play.

The Curiosity Approach Explained

The term, curiosity approach, has two distinct definitions.

The term curiosity approach describes early childhood teaching methods that focus on developing self-directed learning. The goal is to increase learning ability and critical thinking skills by inspiring curiosity. This philosophy helps reverse children’s dependence on the overuse of computers and handheld devices.

Another way to use this term is the curiosity approach explained by Osho about how adults reflect curiosity in five distinct ways. In this article, we will explore this aspect in detail to show how it can be identified and shared. Curiosity, as a core value, shapes the trajectory of our lives.

To Categorize People is to Judge

Categorizing is something we do automatically. Many scientists and philosophers believe the mind is programmed to categorize in order to make life easier. We learn to group things that are dangerous so that we can respond quickly.   We also group things to identify things we like.   When it comes to grouping people, this tendency to group people can have either positive or negative consequences. Grouping people by age, race, gender, sexual preference, or socioeconomic background are ways that are used to discriminate. (1)

To categorize people is to seek differences or similarities. The motives behind this grouping are what is important if our motive is to find interests that are different from the motives that drive discrimination.

Osho (2) shows us another way to group people that transcends these social constructs. He groups humanity by curiosity. This kind of categorization explores our spiritual nature and gives us the opportunity to change the trajectory of our lives.

Osho Asks Why Do We Categorize People?

the curiosity approach explained curiosity as a core value to categorize people is to

Rajneesh first recognized how people fall into three groups of spiritual awareness. It’s not about what they believe is true but the extent to which they seek the deeper spiritual aspects of life and consciousness. Think of curiosity as a core value that acts as a valve on a water spigot.

His observations are based on his international experience as a teacher.   Many people think this analogy has some merit. You may disagree with the percentages he assigns, but most would agree with the characteristics of the people in these three groups. Before we get into the details about identifying where you fit in this analogy, let’s look at Osho’s first observations.

“First, Humanity is divided into three parts.  One part, the major part, almost ninety-nine percent, never bothers about truth.  Then there is the second part of humanity: a few who inquire. But they don’t know how to learn. The third type can become a disciple. And only this third type, when they have attained, can become masters.” — Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Osho

Curiosity as a Core Value

Osho also believes that each of these three categories can be subdivided into five groups based on the type of spiritual curiosity they demonstrate in their lives. It’s important to understand what kind of truth we are discussing. Here, the reference is to the investigation of your spiritual truth.

When we conduct classes on the cultural narrative, one question we ask is, why do we categorize people? Asking this question is another way of probing our beliefs about our spiritual curiosity as a core value.

Many people don’t understand the difference between core beliefs and core values. Our beliefs are assumptions, whereas values are the template we use to assign value. Beliefs influence our core values. However, there can be gaps or contradictions in our beliefs that stem from the same core value. For example, a person can say they value human life while at the same time believing they are justified in killing someone. They apply their values of human life selectively, with prejudice. Extremist ideologies always contain such contractions. When asked why do we categorize people? They will respond so we know who to hate.

People think that because they have religious beliefs, they are also seeking truth. They have been told this lie all their lives, but this isn’t true. If you have inflexible religious beliefs, you are not seeking the truth; you are seeking ways to substantiate what you already believe. Most of the time, this involves pretending your beliefs in mythology and superstition have merit.

Many people get their beliefs from their families because they were indoctrinated into religion as children.   So, it isn’t a choice, and it’s going along with family and cultural traditions. It has nothing to do with seeking the truth and everything to do with affirming what you already believe.

The Five Dimensions of Curiosity

Are you a Joyful spiritual explorer, a problem-solver, a curious learner, a social learner, or a thrill seeker? If you are curious about your curiosity, you are not alone! Understanding these dimensions of curiosity can help you better understand your own nature.

Studies at the Center for the Advancement of Wellbeing at George Mason University (3) corroborate similar findings. Todd Kashdan is a Professor of Clinical Psychology who also describes these dimensions of spiritual curiosity in similar ways.

What is interesting about these mindsets is that, unlike personality or instinct, we can move from one dimension to another if we choose. So, you may find you identify with these different dimensions at different times in your life. Some people change dimensions of curiosity many times, while others stay locked into one mindset their entire lives.

You will find the reasons why we categorize people, places, and things can also change. What causes us to shift from one mindset to another depends on our life experiences.

1) Joyful Spiritual Explorer

The first of the five dimensions of curiosity is driven by a desire to understand the mysteries of life and seek spiritual enlightenment. You may find joy in exploring new belief systems and philosophies that open your mind to new possibilities.

An unplanned shopping trip is something you do to increase joy and perhaps fill a need. The need may be unhealthy, but it differs from the thrill seeker described below. It’s a low-key adventure, not a way to explode or destroy physical, mental, and emotional boundaries.

We like the example of spiritual exploration. Nothing can be more pleasant and joyful than opening the door to a new level of consciousness. When you take the appropriate steps, you know what you want and what to expect.

We also know that the unexpected is bound to show up at some point, but this does not deter us from following our curiosity, which drives our innate desire to explore the unknown.

“Adults envy the open-hearted and open-minded explorations of children; seeing their joy and curiosity, we pine for our own capacity for wide-eyed wonder.” — Gabor Mate

2) The Problem Solver

For the problem-solver, curiosity is all about finding solutions. You thrive on analyzing problems and creating innovative solutions that make the world a better place. You are constantly looking for ways to improve the status quo and challenge conventional thinking.

You are probably familiar with this category. We group human nature by the measure of their ability to memorize things or solve problems. Here, curiosity as a core value is a trait sought out by many different professions.   This category includes all levels of analytical and abstract thinking. We associate this with Rational Thinking tools, Opening Your Intuition, and Creating a Memory Palace. It works hand-in-hand with joyful curiosity to solve the riddles of the subconscious mind, our personalities, and our instincts.

“Problem solving is hunting. It is savage pleasure, and we are born to it.” — Thomas Harris

3) The Practical Learner

The practical learner seeks knowledge and new experiences. You are always asking questions and seeking answers. You may enjoy activities like traveling, reading, or taking classes that expand your understanding of the world.

A typical example of this is learning a new language or musical instrument. We have another article that outlines the arena of techniques for expanding the mind’s capabilities.

“Listen to your beliefs, think about how you learned them, and realize that they are not genetic, nor are they the only way. You are free to acquire new perspectives, to absorb new ideas, and to question everything you were taught to believe. As your mind opens to exploration and change, you’ll feel a new lightness and more joy.” — Charlotte Sophia Kasl

4) The Social Learner

The social learner is curious about people and relationships. You enjoy learning about other cultures and building connections with people from all walks of life. You may enjoy activities like volunteering, attending community events, and engaging in meaningful conversations with friends and strangers alike.

Meeting new people and spending time with friends is high on this list.   Travel and exposure to new ideas are traits of people with this kind of curiosity. It is this trait that underlies the desire to seek the unknown. It’s this natural force that Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey. (4)

“Listen to your being. It is continuously giving you hints; it is a still, small voice. It does not shout at you, that is true. And if you are a little silent, you will start feeling your way. Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself, whatsoever the cost. Risking all to be oneself, that’s what maturity is all about.” — Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Osho

“I have this extraordinary curiosity about all subjects of the natural and human world and the interaction between the physical sciences and the social sciences.” — Ian Hacking

5) The Thrill Seeker

The thrill seeker is someone who seeks excitement and adventure. You enjoy taking risks and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You may enjoy activities like extreme sports, traveling to exotic places, or trying new and daring experiences.

Chances are you’ve met someone who is always looking for the next super exciting thing. They love skydiving, scuba diving, and sleeping on roller coasters. This is also one of the main drivers of the inner quest. You do it because your soul hunger to take the next step.

“A premature attempt to explain something that thrills you will destroy your perception rather than increase it because your tendency will be to explain away rather than seek out.” — Edwin Land

In Conclusion

Why do we categorize people? Our cultural narrative groups people by socioeconomic, ethnicity, race, and other characteristics. It’s hard not to be affected by this constant programming. Osho shows how to group human nature by their spiritual inclination. The question is, what do you do with the information? Do you use it to help right the inequities? Or do you use it as an excuse to rationalize harmful prejudices?

Which of the five dimensions of curiosity resonates with you? Which of these groups best fits your life? It is possible to change if you aren’t happy with where you are.

There is a way to minimize the effects of this programming. Start questioning the cultural narrative. Practice spiritual technologies and awaken. Become a freethinker and learn the value of a healthy, skeptical mindset. Sure, sometimes awakening can be stressful. It will reveal that your bias and prejudice are choices. You don’t have to keep them. Learn how to group humanity to find out who to help.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh teaches us important lessons about our culture. Spend a few minutes asking yourself some questions.

— How do I group people?
Why do I categorize or group people?
— Do I have judgments based on bias and prejudice?
— Where do these judgments originate?
— Can I change people from one category to another?

If you believe people can learn, you must accept that they can change. To categorize people is to be human. All we need to do is use this natural tendency to investigate our motives.


(1) The Origins of Social Categorization
(2) Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Osho, Wikipedia 
(3) GMU Ed, Studies on Curiosity.
(4) Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Wikipedia