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Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...

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

The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...

Zen And Supernatural Power
Yoga[FN#250] claims that various supernatural powers can be a...

Zen After The Downfall Of The Ho-jo Regency
Towards the end of the Ho-Jo period,[FN#90] and after the dow...

Zen And Idealism
Next Zen makes use of Idealism as explained by the Dharmalaks...

Life And Change
A peculiar phase of life is change which appears in the form ...

Zen And The Regent Generals Of The Ho-jo Period
No wonder, then, that the representatives of the Samurai clas...

Enlightenment Implies An Insight Into The Nature Of Self
We cannot pass over, however, this weighty problem without sa...

Zen In The Dark Age
The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms an...

The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, wi...

The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity
The innate tendency of self-preservation, which manifests its...

Epicureanism And Life
There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mir...

The Beatitude Of Zen
We are far from denying, as already shown in the foregoing ch...

All The Worlds In Ten Directions Are Buddha's Holy Land
We are to resume this problem in the following chapter. Suff...

Decline Of Zen
The blooming prosperity of Zen was over towards the end of th...

Man Is Not Good-natured Nor Bad-natured But Buddha-natured
We have had already occasion to observe that Zen teaches Bud...

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

The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai
Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Ja...

The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists
Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on e...




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
appearances.

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
otherwise.

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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