Simple Questions; Simple Answer: No Words

Questions Answers Words

The spiritual quest begins
With simple questions:
 
Who…?
What…?
How…?
Why…?
 
The quest leads always
To one simple answer:
While answers can be known,
They cannot be put into words.

Without words:
No one else can give you the answers;
Only you can know when you have them;
You cannot give them to anyone else.
 
Thus is the nature of enlightenment,
The path to it,
The plight of the teacher.
 
Ask the master, “What is the answer?”
She will answer, “There is no answer.
There is only you.”
 
And there you are, again
At the beginning of your quest.


This answer that is no answer came to me as an expansion of another quote:

The spiritual quest begins, for most people, as a search for meaning.

~ Marilyn Ferguson



It struck me that any search for meaning begins with such simple questions as “Who am I?” “What is existence?” “How did I come to be?” “Why am I here?” From these, all the other words that are not an answer, but which frame the only answer that can be given, just flowed.

7 Responses to “Simple Questions; Simple Answer: No Words”

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  1. Staci says:

    [smile] Peter, did you realise you were paraphrasing the Dao de Jing’s first chapter? Recall our comments from Traces of Me,

    Lao Tse begins his treatise on the Dao by stating unequivocally that neither he nor anyone else can put into words precisely what the Dao is.

    In a nutshell, that’s what your poem says as well.

    You also write, “And there you are, again/At the beginning of your quest.” Isn’t that very much the “Darkness within darkness/The gateway to all understanding“?

    More than that…you capture in these words some sense of my comments on true and truth in Be SilentTrue are the answers we may know, and truth is the words with which we try to express them.

    As you commented to Antoinette, there are no gurus; Beware of anyone who claims they can bestow unto you the answers.

    A question though… The penultimate stanza,

    Ask the master, “What is the answer?”
    She will answer, “There is no answer.
    There is only you.”

    seems to contradict a previous one,

    The quest leads always
    To one simple answer:
    While answers can be known,
    They cannot be put into words.

    Are there no answers? Or, are there answers that cannot be put into words? Or is there just one simple answer?

  2. Peter says:

    Hmmmm…. A good question.

    I’m just heading to bed. An early day tomorrow and out of town for a couple days…

    …quickly, though. As I’ve said elsewhere, these words and poems come to me like a bolt from the blue. I play with the words until they *feel* right. I’m not always sure why they do.

    Sometimes I have the feeling that the words come at a time when I’m ready to apprehend them, ready to receive them. It’s no surprise that they have so much relvance to the conversations we’ve been having.

    I was thinking a bit about all those different ways I was using “answers” as I was putting the words down. But I missed the one about “one simple answer: while answers can be”. Funny.

    The master answers “There are no answers” — I played with a few variations on that. In the end I went with the most poetic, though others were more explicit about her meaning. What she’s really saying, of course, is “There are no answers I can give you; you’ll have to figure them out for yourself.”

    The “simple answer” is rather a “simplistic answer”, and, at the same time, no answer at all. The final stanza is, I feel, a repetition. The answer is, if you’re looking for answers go back and look into yourself, like the master told you to.

  3. Antoinette says:

    Peter! You have joined alongside Staci as poet…..must be contageous 🙂

    The dance between question and answer is reminiscent of the wave wishing to know itself. How high its’ crest, how long, how deep? All its’ questions will ultimately lead back to the answer that it is a breath on the surface of the Ocean and it will always return to, and be, the Ocean…..and how could a wave express or describe the vast Ocean? By Being wet?

    Speaking of questions, your post ‘The Choice; To Live’, ended in a question;

    “So, what I wonder is will I ever make the choice stick ?
    There’s a question underlying this one. I’m not sure what it is yet.”

    I am curious as to whether you have the answer to that one yet?

    Love, light and laughter,
    Antoinette

  4. Staci says:

    [smile] Antoinette, it is rather the other way around — Peter is the poet. My poems are an anomaly — the only two I’ve ever written. Perhaps you’re right about it being contagious, but those may be the only two poems I ever write.

    What you write about the wave, and questions and answers, is beautiful, dare I say, poetic.

  5. Peter says:

    Antoinette, I think the question underlying that one may be, “what does it mean ‘to live’?”

    🙂 As I write elsewhere in a comment above, I don’t know if I am a poet. Certainly, the words come together as poems. I even call them, “my poems”, tag them as poetry. But it’s not like I sit down to write poetry. By the time I start writing, the poem is already partially shaped in my mind.

    More than that, the wisdom in them feels not my own. The wisdom comes to me in a time when I am able to put words to it, but the wisdom itself is often well beyond my own practice. I am not the master spoken of in the poems, and even when the word “I” is written, it is not *me* who writes it. I am just a proxy.

    I feel a bit the charlatan claiming the poems as mine, except that the words came through me, and I worry that publishing them may not be wise, may be more about hubris than service, except that their wisdom rings true.

  6. Antoinette says:

    There is a saying in Buddhism (or was it in the Dao?) that we should become like a hollow bamboo. Then “The Wind” can blow through us, producing melodies far beyond our personal reportoire. You are a hollow bamboo, Peter, and if you do not publish, no-one will hear these melodies of “The Wind”.

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