May I Ask You a Question?

"May I ask you a question?" is a request.

A question is very intimate. No one asks questions -- it would at least require the familiar grammatical tense (tu, etc. as in French and so forth).

Now further, there are two types of questions.

The second is a request for information; but a request is really not a question since it is referring to an objective thing that is wanted. (This does not mean that a request cannot be intimate. "Would you pass the salt?" and "Here," are not oft-noted but common softly transacted intimacies.)

ManjusriA real question is so intimate it almost cannot be voiced. But, when voiced, if at all, it is softly said ... Manjughosha!

Manjusri (Tib. hJam dByangs): honorific sri (similar to "sir"; ghosha of Manjughosha is an even greater honoric, something like "gloriously holy"); Manju meaning soft (Tib. hJam) voice (Tib. dByangs); softly voiced.

It has been said that the question is itself the answer. It is in that sense that Manjusri or Manjughosha is the deity of insight / vision / wisdom.

SarasvatiJust as sweet Sarasvati (Tib. dByangs can ma; she who has a lovely voice) is the goddess of poets as well as scholars. Ramanujan, the prolific mathematician, number theorist, received his revelations from her, as have numberless poets, musicians, etc.

For such endeavors are done with a soft voice, like the whispers of lovers; they bespeak an intimacy of play and wonder.

Perhaps too, that is the meaning of the wonderful lines of poetry:

IF identification is sought

ALL THEN that can be found is NOT TWO

-- after the well-known Zen poem "On Opening to Mind"(1)

For when the mind that spontaneously propounds the question is the mind that intimately reveals an answer, what is that like?(

-- Norman Guberman

(1) Paraphrased from the Manual of Zen Buddhism by D.T. Suzuki
go to Section IV From the Chinese Zen Masters
"On Believing in Mind (Shinjin-no-mei)."

(2) Well...answer!

Paraphrasing, the poem continues:

[This Mind] is beyond quickening [time] and extending [space],

For it one instant is ten thousand years

Infinitely small things are as large as large things can be

Infinitely large things are as small as small things can be

What is is the same as what is not

What is not is the same as what is

Where this state of things fails to obtain

Indeed, no tarrying there

Where Mind and each open mind are not divided,

And undivided are each open mind and Mind,

This is where words fail;

For it is not of the past, future, or present.

NEXT: notes for nobody

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