"Yes," she said, " you can find even without seeking, but you will miss the thrill that the act of seeking gives by itself. Finding is not the goal but a by-product of seeking, as destination is not the goal of a journey for a man who loves travelling. Journey itself is often the goal, as any lover would tell you. It is important to seek because even if you may not always find what you seek, there is a lot else you will find through the act of seeking alone."
He was listening as he usually did when she was speaking - with rapt attention. But questions hung out before his eyes. As usual, she -- and she alone -- could see and understand those questions, better than he could see them himself. Above all, as he had always known, she alone had the answers to the questions he never asked because he did not know how to . "Why is it that it is only after she has given the answers that I realise what I wanted to ask . Why do her answers precede my questions -- always,"he wondered aloud, and thought it was because she had some miraculous powers through which she could see an event before it actually happened. He was right about the miraculous powers. But he did not know that this power was her love -- love for him and for everything in life. In other words, she was in love with life and living -- which is "not the same thing", as she had once told him.
" Answers always precede questions because mind never asks a question to which it does not already know the answer. Answers walk with questions in their wombs, and toss them up ahead of where they arrive.The act of asking itself confirms the existence of an answer," she had once told him, and this had intrigued him. " The strong predictive powers of love determine all that happens in this universe. Go ask a mother," she had said.
" Is then there a purpose to life - to living?" he asked, as much from himself as from her.
"Yes -- and no. There is no purpose to life beyond living. Not living well but living full and wholesome, which is the only way to live well . Everything else including 'purpose of living' is a by product," she said.
Here she sensed a bewilderment in his mind. " Of all the persons, she should talk about purposelssness. She is the only one I know who has ever had any purpose to life, to everything she does. And does she know that she herself could bE the purpose of many lives. My life, for sure, but many others I know."-- she caught him trapped by these thoughts. And she spoke gently: " It does not feel nice to know or believe that there is no purpose to life because it sounds dangerously like purposelessness. But life is too grand a process to be dictated to or shaped by your purpose. Its like love. How can there be a purpose to love beyond loving? If there is, you must look closely at what you believe to be love. Love -like life - is a purpose unto itself. A journey is its own goal. The goal is generally an excuse invented by journey to undertake itself."
He was listening intently. But he felt as if he had heard only a fragment of what she had spoken. It always felt like that when she was speaking. What he heard was much less than what she spoke, although in a literal sense, he could repeat every word she had uttered. He often wondered why he had this strange feeling of having missed a lot from her conversations with him.
"But what about the teachings of the prophets who spoke about a purpose to life, a purpose higher than life itself? A design, a grand design, a grand purpose?" he asked.
"No prophet ever spoke of a purpose higher than life. But we have a problem with prophets. By life, they do not mean the same thing as we do. The chief difference between a prophet and you and me is this: He lives his life by the seconds; we live it in years. To him, there is no tomorrow that is not contained in his today. To us, there is no today. There was a yesterday and there will be a tomorrow: our todays are lost in our yesterdays and tomorrows. This is because we are bothered more about a purpose of living than about living. Freedom from the past and the future alone is eternity. There is no infinity beyond here, no eternity beyond now: kill your now, and you would have killed eternity. To be everywhere, you need to be here. Here is everywhere. Or everywhere is here - its the same thing."
Was this philosophy not close to epicureanism? he wondered. But before he could give it words, she resumed - as if she had anticipated his doubts, as she always seemed to do.
" Life does not run itself to your script or your "isms". Your scripts are your attempts to impose a pattern on life, rather than understanding the script woven into life. Life is constantly writing and revising its own script -- and living is the only way it chooses to achieve that. That is why its scripts always follow its act," she said. But having spoken, she realised that not all her words had been heard by him, although as usual he had heard the sound of each word and each syllable in that word. And memorised it. And he could reproduce every word he had not heard.
She smiled as she combed his hair with her fingers. She always did this whenever she found his mind overburdened with thoughts he did not think or understand.
She smiled, and she spoke again:
"Do not seek any meaning in my words. I enjoy my conversations with you and you do so too, leave it there. Do not spoil it by trying to seek any meanings here, for if you do find some meanings, these will not be the meanings of our words but only the echoes of something distant. But never look for meanings in words. Words never explain a meaning. Its the meaning that explains the words. Meaning is always beyond words, and yet words like posts on the high road to truth. They may point a direction but they do not undertake the journey with you. Enjoy the words but look for meanings elsewhere. I never heard anything more meaningful in life than the sound of your laughter when you were a child. And your childhood is whenever you laugh. Only the innocent know how to laugh," she said, and as she spoke, he had already reconnected to his childhood and thrown his head in her lap . Suddenly, the burden that had been weighing on his mind was lifted. He could hear the gentle flutter of leaves of the peepal tree under which they sat. An easterly breeze combed through these leaves as her fingers had combed through his air. Every leaf smiled at him. The breeze kissed him gently and filled his soul.
He did not know when he dropped into a dreamless sleep but it was the most peaceful sleep he had in a long, long while. She kept caressing his hair and forehead as he lay in her lap -- a little baby, secure and beyond the need of any answers, and therefore, beyond the need of God or of an alternative to God.
Strangely, he always felt a indefinable divinity around him whenever he was with her. And this was a divinity that made God strongly present but utterly irrelevant.