Demon : You fool ! You think you can cross these waters ? There is no way out.
Man : Who said about crossing ? I will elevate.
‘Absent staircase’ is a quest into the unknown. A seeker will be challenged by the very materials he is made of.
In chapter one of Bhagavad Geeta, Arjun asks Krishna to take him to middle of the battle field so that he could have a look at those with whom he was about to war.
After Krishna does so, Arjuna finds himself encircled by realisations that his opponents were none other than his own cousins and Great Gurus he learned all the Warcraft from.
Swami Krishnanada discusses this in his commentaries as an irony every spiritual seeker shall face. In form of his cousins, Arjuna the seeker faces the natural truths that his life was standing upon. Krishna the absolute being later on guides the seeker out of his grievance by shining upon him the light of Meaning with a conviction of truth.
The desires we have been hopelessly clinging onto will become doubts and thereafter will diminish. There is a turmoil of emotions and emotional churning which awaits us with every step on this absent staircase.
Calling it absent justifies the neglect of the thousand eyed demon which believes us to be inseparable from the shallow waters of this material world.