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To find something that is given, one must first be looking for it. To understand an answer, one must first have asked the question, otherwise the explanation will sound like a foreign tongue, or like empty silence.

— Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, Vol. 1.  <link>

The first person asks, “What time is it?”

The second person looks at watch and replies, “Now.”

First person ponders for a moment and then says, “That’s a pretty boring answer.”

Second person retorts, “Is not. It’s the least boring answer imaginable.”

— Randall Munroe, xkcd  <link>

Answers and Questions

You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.

— Naguib Mahfouz  <link>

What is essential is not the answer but the questions; the answers indeed are the death of the life that is in the questions.

— R.H. Blyth  <link>

The answer to any question starting, “Why don’t they…” is almost always “Money”.

— Robert A. Heinlein  <link>

Live the Question

Be patient with regard to all that in your heart is still unresolved and try to love the questions themselves like closed parts and books written in an extremely foreign language. Do not seek for the moment of the answer because you would not be able to live through it. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will live thereafter and gradually without realizing it, one day, live your way into the answer.

— Rainer Maria Rilke  <link>

The Meaning of Life

Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. …

What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.

These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete.

— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
(writing from his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp)  <link>