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Chapter 19: The Three-Rung Ladder of Love

The first question:

Many times I have thought of questions felt to be meaningful. Each time the question resolved itself or seemed absurd after letting it gestate for a while. The paradox is that the words dissolve but the question mark remains.

The question mark is bound to remain forever, because the question mark has nothing to do with the question at all. It has something to do with the mystery of life itself. Life never becomes known, it always remains a mystery, a question mark - and a question mark which cannot be dissolved. It is in the very nature of existence, it is the very center of existence; there is no way to find any answer or explanation for it.

That’s why philosophy fails and poetry succeeds. That’s why mathematics fails and music succeeds. That’s why logic always lags behind and love reaches, arrives.

The question mark is immensely significant. All questions are absurd. And all questions are sooner or later resolved, are bound to be resolved, because all questions have answers. If you can formulate a question you can find an answer for it, but the question mark is not your formulation. It is there; it is on each leaf of the trees, on each sound of the birds. On each cloud, on each star, on each atom, the question mark is there.

Life is not a problem but a mystery. A problem is that which can be solved - at least is theoretically soluble. A mystery is that which can be lived but can never be solved.

An ancient Hassid story:

An old Hassid master asked one of his disciples, “What do we mean when we use the word God?”

The disciple wouldn’t answer, the disciple wouldn’t look in the eyes of the master. With bent head, ashamed of himself, he remained silent.

The question was asked again and again. Thrice the master asked. The more the master asked, the more silent the disciple became. And the silence was very embarrassing. The disciple has to respect the question of the master - and it was as if he has not even heard; no response from the disciple. The master was irritated and he asked, “Why don’t you answer me? What do we mean by the word God when we use it?”

And the disciple said, “Because I don’t know, how can I answer? I don’t know God!”

And the master laughed, a laughter which can happen only to those who have arrived. He said, “And do you think I know?”

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