Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Scale and scales

There is a story from Oriental religion that is widely repeated in the western world: a teacher points at the moon and what his students see is just his fingernail.  This story is assumed to be about the gap between words and what the words signify. But a different interpretation would not invalidate the standard meaning. Here is what occurred to me.  Perhaps this teacher MEANT his students to see his fingernail AND the moon. Maybe his story was about the gap in size between the sliver of nail at the end of a finger and the size of the crescent in the sky.  The gap between what man thinks he knows and what is to be known, or even, between what a man doesn't know, and what there is actually in terms of the unknown.

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