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Universal Life Is Universal Spirit
These considerations naturally lead us to see that Universal ...

The Theory Of Buddha-nature Adequately Explains The Ethical States Of Man
This theory of Buddha-nature enables us to get an insight int...

The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followi...

The Establishment Of The Rin Zai School Of Zen In Japan
[FN#67] The Lin Tsi school was started by Nan Yoh, a pr...

The Law Of Balance
Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts t...

The Parable Of The Monk And The Stupid Woman
The confused or unenlightened may be compared with a monk and...

Buddha-nature Is The Common Source Of Morals
Furthermore, Buddha-nature or real self, being the seat of lo...

Life In The Concrete
Life in the concrete, which we are living, greatly differs fr...

The Characteristics Of Do-gen The Founder Of The Japanese So To Sect
In the meantime seekers after a new truth gradually began to ...

Life Consists In Conflict
Life consists in conflict. So long as man remains a social a...

Life Change And Hope
The doctrine of Transcience never drives us to the pessimisti...

Zen After The Restoration
After the Restoration of the Mei-ji (1867) the popularity of ...

Each Smile A Hymn Each Kindly Word A Prayer
The glorious sun of Buddha-nature shines in the zenith of Enl...

Wang Yang Ming (o-yo-mei) And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...

A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...

The Awakening Of The Innermost Wisdom
Having set ourselves free from the misconception of Self, nex...

The Social State Of Japan When Zen Was Established By Ei-sai And Do-gen
Now we have to observe the condition of the country when Zen ...

Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Religion And Morality
Similarly, it is the case with religion and morality. If we ...

Three Important Elements Of Zen
To understand how Zen developed during some four hundred year...

Where Does The Root Of The Illusion Lie?

Now let us examine where illusion lies hidden from the view of these
religionists. It lies deeply rooted in the misconstruction of
reality, grows up into the illusive ideas of appearances, and throws
its dark shadow on life. The most fundamental error lies in their
construing reality as something unknowable existing behind

According to their opinion, all that we know, or perceive, or feel,
or imagine about the world, is appearances or phenomena, but not
reality itself. Appearances are 'things known as,' but not 'things
as they are.' Thing-in-itself, or reality, lies behind appearances
permanently beyond our ken. This is probably the most profound
metaphysical pit into which philosophical minds have ever fallen in
their way of speculation. Things appear, they would say, as we see
them through our limited senses; but they must present entirely
different aspects to those that differ from ours, just as the
vibration of ether appears to us as colours, yet it presents quite
different aspects to the colour-blind or to the purblind. The
phenomenal universe is what appears to the human mind, and in case
our mental constitution undergoes change, it would be completely

This argument, however, is far from proving that the reality is
unknowable, or that it lies hidden behind appearances or
presentations. Take, for instance, a reality which appears as a ray
of the sun. When it goes through a pane of glass it appears to be
colourless, but it exhibits a beautiful spectrum when it passes
through a prism. Therefore you assume that a reality appearing as
the rays of the sun is neither colourless nor coloured in itself,
since these appearances are wholly due to the difference that obtains
between the pane of glass and the prism.

We contend, however, that the fact does not prove the existence of
the reality named the sun's ray beyond or behind the white light, nor
its existence beyond or behind the spectrum. It is evident that the
reality exists in white light, and that it is known as the white
light when it goes through a pane of glass; and that the same reality
exists in the spectrum, and is known as the spectrum when it goes
through the prism. The reality is known as the white light on the
one hand, and as the spectrum on the other. It is not unknowable,
but knowable.

Suppose that one and the same reality exhibits one aspect when it
stands in relation to another object; two aspects when it stands in
relation in two different objects; three aspects when it stands in
relation to three different objects. The reality of one aspect never
proves the unreality of another aspect, for all these three aspects
can be equally real. A tree appears to us as a vegetable; it appears
to some birds as a shelter; and it appears to some worms as a food.
The reality of its aspect as a vegetable never proves the unreality
of its aspect as food, nor the reality of its aspect as food
disproves the reality of its aspect as shelter. The real tree does
not exist beyond or behind the vegetable. We can rely upon its
reality, and make use of it to a fruitful result. At the same time,
the birds can rely on its reality as a shelter, and build their nests
in it; the worms, too, can rely on its reality as food, and eat it-to
their satisfaction. A reality which appears to me as my wife must
appear to my son as his mother, and never as his wife. But the same
real woman is in the wife and in the mother; neither is unreal.

Next: Thing-in-itself Means Thing-knowerless

Previous: An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality

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