A man left his life in the city, having quit his executive career in midstream, bid his wife sell everything they had to divide amongst her and their children, and began a journey of several years seeking the answer to just one question. It seemed to him that his soul would never find rest until he knew the answer; that his life would have been a meaningless pursuit of transitory experiences if at his death he hadn’t gained the knowledge he so desperately sought.
His journey took him to many lands and put him at the feet of many learned sages, but his soul had not been satisfied by what any of them had said, and on the point of losing all hope, an inquiry in a remote village yielded the prospect of success. “There’s a place deep inside that mountain,” said a very old woman indicating with a crooked finger, “where they say the master dwells who knows all things.”
His heart nearly leapt out of his chest as he recognised his great good fortune, and over the next two days he rested, while the old woman packed for him the necessary supplies for a journey into the heart of darkness. Having attained the cave mouth he set forth with his blazing torch, moving and resting, making rough camp when he had need, and after what must have been several days he perceived in the black distance the faintest illumination. Approaching now with caution, lest it turn out to be merely a figment of his imagination, he soon could discern what appeared to be a pillar of cloth, and on closer scrutiny realised with awe that he was gazing at the figure of a terribly ancient man, who appeared to be so deeply in meditation as to seem like statuary.
He was just about to cough politely when the old, old man slowly raised his hand, indicating that he hadn’t yet finished his meditations, and the traveler set down his things to sit and wait. Many hours passed until finally the old man’s eyes opened, and with an expression of what appeared to be the greatest beneficence inquired into the man’s quest. “I have traveled the world seeking the answer to my question,” he replied, “and it is this: what is life?”
“It is a good question, the only question.” said the ancient, and with that he raised his arms and let them slowly fall as though scattering flower petals, and with joy announced, “Life is a fountain.”
“Life is a fountain?” said the traveler, not without a note of disappointment. The old man, his face creasing into the very picture of doubt, turned tortured eyes upon his visitor and said “Well, isn’t it?