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Chapter 7: Three Friends

There were three friends discussing life.
One said:
“Can men live together and know nothing of it,
work together and produce nothing?
Can they fly around in space
and forget to exist, world without end?”

The three friends looked at each other
and burst out laughing.
They had no explanation,
thus they were better friends than before.

Then one friend died.
Confucius sent a disciple
to help the other two chant his obsequies.

The disciple found
that one friend had composed a song
while the other played the lute.

They sang:
“Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?
Hey, Sung Hu, where’d you go?
You have gone where you really were,
and we are here - damn it, we are here!”
Then the disciple of Confucius
burst in on them and exclaimed:
“May I inquire where you found this
in the rubrics for obsequies,
this frivolous caroling
in the presence of the departed?”

The two friends looked at each other
and laughed:
“Poor fellow,
he doesn’t know the new liturgy!”

The first thing about life is that it has no explanation. It is there in its absolute glory, but it has no explanation. It is there as a mystery and if you try to explain it you will miss it. It will not be explained, but you will become blind through your explanations.

Philosophy is the enemy of life. The most inimical thing that can happen to a man is to get fixed and obsessed with philosophical explanations. The moment you think you have the explanation life has left you, you are already dead.

This will look paradoxical. Death can be explained; life cannot be explained - because death is something finished, complete. Life is always an ongoing affair, life is always on the journey, death has arrived. When something has reached and is finished, you can explain it, you can define it. When something is still ongoing, it means that the unknown is still to be traveled.

You can know the past but you cannot know the future. You can put the past into a theory; how can you put the future into a theory? The future is always an opening, an infinite opening, it goes on opening and opening. So when you explain, the explanation always indicates that which is dead.

Philosophy has explanations so it cannot be very alive, and you cannot find people who are more dead than philosophers. Their life has ebbed away, their life has oozed out, they are shrunken heads, like dead stones. They make much noise but there is none of the music of life. They have many explanations, but they have completely forgotten that they have only explanations in their hands.

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