All our efforts to unfold it are like those in a story by Aesop which I have heard. It tells how a centipede was walking along a road. A rabbit saw it and was much perplexed. The rabbit may perhaps have been instructed in a school of logic. Its perplexity was this: which of its hundred feet did the centipede raise first? And which second? Which third? and so forth. How could it remember the order of its one hundred feet? Would it not stumble while walking? It must surely be confused.
The rabbit asked the centipede to stop and answer its question. It said, “I am a student of logic and I am in great perplexity watching you. We walk on four feet so it is easy to remember the order of raising them while walking. But how do you remember the order of your one hundred feet?”
The centipede replied, “I have been walking very easily up to now; I have never found it necessary to remember the order, and I have never thought that way up to now. But as you now ask me, I shall think about it and solve your problem.”
The rabbit sat there watching. The centipede tried to raise its feet but staggered and fell down. It was now in difficulty. With a sorrowful heart it said to the rabbit, “Friend, your logic has put me in great difficulty. Please keep your logic to yourself, and do not ask your question to any other centipede which happens to pass you on the road. We live in great comfort and happiness. Our feet have never given us any difficulty – they never raised this question and never argued about it. We have never thought about which foot is lifted first and which second. We do not know. This much is certain: up to now I have been able to walk. Only now, because of you, do I find myself in difficulty!”
Man’s greatest dilemma is that he is in the predicament of that centipede. Man does not need a rabbit to ask the question; he raises the question himself and creates doubt and gets himself entangled. He asks himself the questions and provides his own answers. The questions are definitely wrong, so the answers become even more incorrect and misleading. Each answer gives rise to a new question. These questions and answers multiply, a great mess is created, and man becomes more and more perplexed until a moment comes when he is so perplexed that he does not know what is what. All of us are in this predicament.
Someone said to Saint Augustine, “I am much troubled by one question, and it would put my mind at rest if you would kindly answer it for me. I have heard you are a learned person.”
Saint Augustine said, “You might have heard that, but now that you tell me, I am in difficulty.”
The man said, “What difficulty can you be in? Difficulties are for ignorant people like me.”