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OSHO Online Library   »   The Books   »   Philosophia Perennis, Vol. 2
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Chapter 10: Known, Unknown, Unknowable

The first question:

Which is the real question?

Scientific questions are all real, because they are answerable. Religious questions are all unreal because they are unanswerable.

Religion is the concern with the unanswerable. To ask a religious question is basically wrong - it is wrong because religion is the search for the mystery, not the search for the answer. Religion is diving deep into that which is basically unknowable - not only unknown but unknowable.

These three words have to be understood: the known, the unknown and the unknowable. The known is that which we have accumulated in the past - through experience, through experimentation. Whatsoever answers we have forced nature to give to us, that has become the known. That’s what science is all about. And the remaining, for science, is only the unknown.

The basic hypothesis is this: that life is divided into only two categories - the known and the unknown. Sooner or later the category of the known will become bigger and bigger, more and more things will be known. And it is assumed by science that one day there will be only one category - the known. The unknown will disappear because we would have discovered all the answers.

It is here where religion differs. Religion says: There is a third category still - the unknowable, which will always remain there, the mysterious. Love cannot be reduced to knowledge, neither can beauty nor joy - what to say about God? Consciousness can never be reduced to the known. The ultimate will remain hovering beyond the known and the unknown. And it will go on calling forth those who have courage to go into the mysterious, into the uncharted.

Religion is the concern with the ultimate - the ultimate concern. Concern with the unanswerable, concern with the unknowable. So all questions about religion are wrong. No religious question is authentic, cannot be.

And the function of the master is not to answer you: his function is to destroy your questioning, slowly slowly, to help you to come to a state of non-questioning. That’s what trust is: the state of non-questioning, where no question exists at all. You are so silent that no questioning arises. You are deep in tune with reality then.and only then. When there is no question mark in your heart, the heart melts into the whole. The ego disappears with the question mark.

Do you know how the question mark arrived on the scene? It symbolizes the snake who seduced Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. The question mark is just a symbolic snake. The moment Eve asked a question, she fell from grace. And she provoked the same questioning in Adam.

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