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What is the Question?

Howell Hurst Uncategorized

One of the occupational hazards of believing you are a writer is to occasionally try to write something profound. Profundity comes to very few. I try to recognize this urge in myself as the ego-laden error it is. In forty years or so of skimming notebooks I have accumulated with writing I once considered profound, I don’t think I’ve found anything that qualifies yet.

Now and then I seem to have written something that made a little sense. I guess accomplishing that once or twice in life is not a bad score. I like a comment Gertrude Stein once made when asked to supply an answer to a question. Distracted by something else, she answered: “What is the question?” That certainly is the question. What IS the question? Where I was raised the question most often asked was whether I was in tune with the religion of my fellows.

Once when I responded that I was not, but rather believed something different, a man stopped doing business with me because I was not of his persuasion. That impressed me as a high form of intolerance. Comparing his attitude with, for instance, Buddhism’s reluctance to even assume a god exists obsessed with humans’ little lives, lends a touch of humility to one’s self absorbing existence.

Buddhists’ solid down-on-the-earth reality is refreshing. Their insistence on compassion for all living things is admirable. It proposes respect and courtesy to all, regardless of their beliefs. Tao te Ching, a Chinese philosopher, pins down the fallacy of profundity with a remark I believe I shall end this blog with: “Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know.”

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