A great woman of this century, a poet of the highest rank, Gertrude Stein, was dying. And her friends had gathered because the doctors had said it was only a question of a few hours. Around her bed they were sitting in deep silence, tears in their eyes. A woman was leaving them – no ordinary woman. She spoke in words of gold; she wrote things which are almost impossible to put into words. Suddenly Stein opened her eyes, looked all around and asked, “What is the answer?”
This was so strange. People ask the question first: the question had not been asked and she was asking for the answer. Perhaps she was perfectly aware that there was not much time to ask the question – her whole life had gone by and she had not asked the question. At least before she leaves, in this evening of life, she could listen to the answer. What is the answer? And all those who were present were puzzled because they didn’t know what her question was, so how to give the answer? To argue with a dying woman, whom they all loved and respected, would be very disrespectful, but still she was waiting for something else to be said. So one friend said, “It seems you have forgotten to ask the question, how can we answer?”
She smiled, and said, “Okay, then, what is the question?” And that was her last word. She died with these words on her lips, “Okay, then what is the question?”
This small incident has profound meaning. Neither do we know the question nor do we know the answer, and yet we go on dragging ourselves – not knowing from where we come, not knowing where we are going, not knowing what we are doing here. It is a very strange situation, almost insane.
Almitra is right when she says: Blessed be this day… because we have heard authentic questions, and even more authentic answers – answers that were not only words, answers that were alive, answers that were not simply thoughts, but were coming from the very innermost source of Almustafa’s being. Blessed be this day and this place and your spirit that has spoken.
And what Almustafa says is immensely significant to remember. After answering so many questions, almost covering the whole life of man, nothing is left, yet Almustafa said:
…Was it I who spoke?
Was I not also a listener?
He is saying, “I have not spoken a single word, the spirit of existence itself has spoken. I was also a listener amongst you, so don’t say, ‘You have spoken.’ I had given way to existence itself to be in direct contact with you. Although my lips were used, my hands were used, my eyes were used, they were only instruments. I have surrendered myself totally to the spirit of the whole: ‘Make any song out of me, any music; I am at your disposal, totally without any conditions.’” That’s why he says: Was it I who spoke? Was I not also a listener?