The Sufi sage, Abdulalim of Fez, refused to teach, but from time to time would advise people about the way to proceed on the path.
One day a disciple, who was both incapable of learning and regularly driven abnormal by attending “mystical ceremonies,” visited him.
He asked, “how can I best profit from the teachings of the sages?”
The Sufi said, “I am happy to be able to tell you that I have an infallible method which corresponds to your capacity.”
Man is a quest – not a question but a quest. A question can be solved intellectually, but a quest has to be solved existentially. It is not that we are seeking some answers to some questions, it is that we are seeking some answer to our being.
It is a quest because questions are about others. A quest is about oneself. Man is seeking himself. He knows he is, but he also knows that he does not know who he is. Hence from the very birth a great inquiry starts rising in the innermost core of man. We can repress that inquiry, we can divert that inquiry, we can change that inquiry for substitute inquiries, but he cannot kill it. There is no way to kill it because it is intrinsic to human nature. It is intrinsic to consciousness to know what it is.
That inquiry is man’s very nature, and unless it is resolved, man remains searching. Of course, there are nine hundred and ninety-nine ways to go wrong, and there is only one way to go right – so the search is full of hazards. It is not simple; it is very complex – and it is very rare that a man reaches. But unless you reach, you will continue in agony, in turmoil. You will remain a cry in the wilderness. You will not know what joy is. Not knowing yourself, how can you be joyous? And you will not know what benediction is. Not knowing yourself, there is no benediction.
You will hear words like contentment, blissfulness, but they will remain words. They won’t have any content for you. The content has to be supplied by your experience. They will remain empty words. They will create much noise around you but they will not mean anything.
Search is intrinsic to human nature. But then arises the problem that there are many ways to go wrong, How to find the right path?
This small parable is of immense significance. Each word of it has to be understood.
Carlyle has said, “The misfortune of man has its source in his greatness. For there is something infinite in him and he cannot succeed in burying himself completely in the finite.”