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Buddhism

There Is No Mortal Who Is Purely Moral
By nature man should be either good or bad; or he should be g...

The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi
Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somew...

The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...

An Illusion Concerning Appearance And Reality
To get Enlightened we must next dispel an illusion respecting...

Nature And Her Lesson
Nature offers us nectar and ambrosia every day, and everywher...

Where Then Does The Error Lie?
Where, then, does the error lie in the four possible proposit...

The Betterment Of Life
Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the ...

The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs
Tao Sin transmitted the Law to Hung Jan (Ko-nin), who being e...

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

Flight Of The Sixth Patriarch
On the following morning the news of what had happened during...

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

Bodhidharma's Disciples And The Transmission Of The Law
For details, see Chwen Tang Luh and Den Ka Roku, by Kei Z...

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

Life And Change
Transformation and change are the essential features of life;...

The Disciples Under The Sixth Patriarch
Some time after this the Sixth Patriarch settled himself down...

Zen Under The Toku-gana Shogunate
Peace was at last restored by Iye-yasu, the founder of the To...

Man Is Both Good-natured And Bad-natured According To Yan Hiung Yo-yu
According to Yang Hiung and his followers, good is no less re...

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

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

The Great Person And Small Person
For these reasons Zen proposes to call man Buddha-natured or ...




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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