"We have come to ask you a very simple question, hoping for a simple answer. Although we are college-educated, we are not yet very well prepared for deep reasoning and extensive analysis; but we shall listen to what you tell us. You see, sir, we don't know what life is all about. We have messed around here and there, belonging to political parties, joining the social `do-gooders', attending labour meetings, and all the rest of it; and as it happens, we are all passionately fond of music. We have been to temples, and have dipped into the sacred books, but not too deeply. I am venturing to tell you all this simply to give you some information about ourselves. We three get together practically every evening to talk things over, and the question we would like to ask you is this: what is the purpose of life, and how can we find it?"
Why are you asking this question? And if someone were to tell you what the purpose of life is, would you accept it and guide your lives! by it?
"We are asking this question," explained the married one, "because we are confused; we don't know what all this mess and misery is about. We would like to talk it over with someone who is not confused as we are, and who is not arrogant and authoritarian; someone who will talk to us normally, and not condescendingly, as though they knew everything and we were ignorant school boys who knew nothing. We have heard that you aren't like that, and so we have come to ask you what life is all about."
"It's not only that, sir," added the first one. "We also want to lead a fruitful life, a life with some meaning to it; but at the same time, we don't want to become `ists', or belong to any particular `ism'. Some of our friends belong to various groups of religious and political double-talkers, but we have no desire to join them. The political ones are generally pursuing power for themselves in the name of the State; and as for the religious ones, they are for the most part gullible and superstitious. So here we are, and I don't know if you can help us."
Again, if anyone were foolish enough to tell you what is the purpose of life, would you accept it - provided, of course, it were reasonable, comforting and more or less satisfactory?
"I suppose we would," said the first one. "But he would want to make quite sure that it was true, and not just some clever invention," put in one of his companions.
"I doubt that we are capable of such discernment," added the other.
That's the whole point, isn't it? You have all admitted that you are rather confused. Now, do you think a confused mind can find out what the purpose of life is?
"Why not, sir?" asked the first one. "We are confused, there's no denying that; but if through our confusion we cannot perceive the purpose of life, then there's no hope."
However much it may grope and search, a confused mind can only find that which is further confusing; isn't that so?
"I don't what you are getting at," said the married one.
We are not trying to get at anything. We are proceeding step by step; and the first thing to find out, surely, is whether or not the mind can ever think clearly as long as it is confused.
"Obviously it cannot," replied the first one quickly. "If I am confused, as in fact I am I cannot think clearly. Clear thinking implies the absence of confusion. As I am confused, my thinking is not clear Then what?"
The fact is that whatever a confused mind seeks and finds must also be confused; its leaders, its gurus, its ends, will reflect its own confusion. Isn't that so?
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From Commentaries on Living 3