The Quest

August 11, 2007

In the far parts of the world there is a mountain, and it is covered in snow, and trees, and rocks, as is the manner of mountains.

Upon it, however, there is a monastery, high in the peaks, amongst the arctic winds and soaring eagles and thinning air. Within that monastery there is a room of comfortable stone, though the walls are plain and the floor usually bare.

This evening, a student sits upon the floor, legs crossed, eyes closed, and he seeks to find hidden wisdom within. The sharp crack of a whip fills the air, and a burning sensation at his back tells him he is taking too long.

“What if,” the boy says, though there is hesitation in his words, “The color blue that I see… is different than the color blue that you see?”

He stifles a cry as the whip strikes again, and a deep voice spits out from behind him, “Pathetic! As if I haven’t heard that one a thousand times before. Think, child! Find a good question – push your limits! What if one in every third person was an illusion? What if a rabbit knew the meaning of the word “truth”, and that word alone? What if the ability for a dozen men to fit within a car was the key to a riddle left by your mother? Now, do it, Question me!”

The boy steadied his breathing as he was bombarded with nonsense again and again. That was thier mission – that was what they did. They were monks of philosophy, not of religion, and it was their goal to try and answer even the hardest questions. Their belief was that, the more absurd premises one wrapped one’s mind around, the closer to enlightenment one became.

As it was, however, the boy was a very long way from enlightment indeed.

A final whip-crack sliced a line of flesh from his back, and he took in a deep breath – and then he gave his Question.

“What if all we do here, and all we have every done, and all we yet will do… was less meaningful than answering a single question of style? What then? What, then…”

The whip did not land.

The boy was now a man.

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