Question

Nothing is more common than good things; the only question is how to discern them; it is certain that all of them are natural and within our reach and even known by every one. But we do not know how to distinguish them. This is universal. It is not in things extraordinary and strange that excellence of any kind is found. We reach up for it, and we are further away; more often than not we must stoop. The best books are those whose readers think they; could have written them. Nature, which alone is good, is familiar and common throughout.

If there is a God, he is infinitely beyond our comprehension, since, being indivisible and without limits, he bears no relation to us. We are therefore incapable of knowing either what he is or whether he is. That being so, who would dare to attempt to answer the question? Certainly not we, who bear no relation to him.

It is certain that the soul is either mortal or immortal. The decision of this question must make a total difference in the principles of morals. Yet philosophers have arranged their moral system entirely independent of this. What an extraordinary blindness!

No one can deny that much of our modern advertising is essentially dishonest; and it can be maintained that to lie freely and all the time for private profit is not to abuse the right of free speech, whether it is a violation of the law or not. But again the practical question is, how much lying for private profit is to be permitted by law?

The significance of man is that he is that part of the universe that asks the question, 'What is the significance of man?' He alone can stand apart imaginatively and, regarding himself and the universe in their eternal aspects, pronounce a judgment: The significance of man is that he is insignificant and is aware of it.

In cases of doubtful morality, it is usual to say, Is there any harm in doing this? This question may sometimes be best answered by asking ourselves another: Is there any harm in letting it alone?

A noble mind can see a question from all sides without bias. Small minds are biased and see a question only form one side.

Your ‘personal’ life cannot have a lasting intrinsic meaning. It can acquire a contingent meaning, but only by being fitted into and subordinated to something which ‘lasts’ and has a meaning in itself. Is this something what we attempt to identify when we speak of ‘Life’? Can your life have a meaning as a tiny fragment of life? Does Life exist? Seek and you shall find, experience Life as reality. Has Life a ‘meaning’? Experience Life as reality and the question becomes meaningless. Seek - ? Seek by daring to take the leap into unconditional obedience. Dare this when you are challenged, for only by the light of a challenge will you be able to see the cross-roads and, in full awareness of your choice, turn your back upon your personal life - with no right ever to look back. You will find that ‘in the pattern’ you are liberated from the need to live ‘with the herd’. You will find that, thus subordinated, your life will receive from Life all its meaning, irrespective of the conditions given you for its realization. You will find that the freedom of the continual farewell, the hourly self-surrender, gives to your experience of reality the purity and clarity which signify - seal-realization. You will find that obedience requires an act of will which must continually be re-iterated, and that you will fail, if anything in your personal life is allowed to slip back into the center.

[During dire days under the Nazis] Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he’s called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God – the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God.

When the captain of a ship has put out from Singapore bound for Boston, we have only one question to ask. And this question does not refer to typhoons, hurricanes, pirates, shoals, shallows or icebergs. The one question we ask is, “Did you bring the ship into port?”

No question is ever settled until it is settled right.

Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from the lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.

As it asketh some knowledge to demand a question not impertinent, so it requireth some sense to make a wish not absurd.

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.

Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. ...The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.

Mere customary life (the watch wound up and going on of itself) is that which brings on natural death. Custom is activity without opposition, for which there remains only a formal duration; in which the fullness and zest that originally characterized the aim of life are out of the question - a merely external sensuous existence which has ceased to throw itself enthusiastically into its object.

The important question of how poverty is to be abolished is one of the most disturbing problems which agitate modern society.

Age generally makes men more tolerant; youth is always discontented. The tolerance of age is the result of the ripeness of a judgment which, not merely as the result of indifference, is satisfied even with what is inferior, but, more deeply taught by the grave experience of life, has been led to perceive the substantial, sold worth of the object in question. The insight then to which - in contradistinction fro those ideals - philosophy is to lead us, is, that the real world is as it ought to be, that the truly good, the universal divine reason, is not a mere abstraction, but a vital principle capable of realizing itself.

The religious concentration of the soul appears in the form of feeling; it nevertheless passes also into reflection; a form of worship is a result of reflection. The second form of the union of the objective and subjective in the human spirit is art. This advances farther into the realm of the actual and sensuous than religion. In its nobles walk it is occupied with representing, not indeed, the spirit of God, but certainly the form of God; and in its secondary aims, that which is divine and spiritual generally. Its office is to render visible the divine; presenting it to the imaginative and intuitive faculty. but the true is the object not only of conception and feeling, as in religion - and of intuition, as in art - but also of the thinking faculty; and this gives us the third form of the union in question - philosophy.