The Absolute And Reality Are But An Abstraction


A grain of sand you, trample upon has a deeper significance than a

series of lectures by your verbal philosopher whom you respect. It

contains within itself the whole history of the earth; it tells you

what it has seen since the dawn of time; while your philosopher

simply plays on abstract terms and empty words. What does his

Absolute, or One, or Substance mean? What does his Reality or Truth

imply? Do they denote
r connote anything? Mere name! mere

abstraction! One school of philosophy after another has been

established on logical subtleties; thousands of books have been

written on these grand names and fair mirages, which vanish the

moment that your hand of experience reaches after them.

Duke Hwan, says Chwang Tsz,[FN#134] seated above in his hall, was

(once) reading a book, and a wheelwright, Phien, was making a wheel

below it. Laying aside his hammer and chisel, Phien went up the

steps and said: 'I venture to ask your Grace what words you are

reading?' The duke said: 'The words of sages.' 'Are these sages

alive?' Phien continued. 'They are dead,' was the reply. 'Then,'

said the other, 'what you, my Ruler, are reading is only the dregs

and sediments of those old men.' The duke said:

[FN#134] Chwang Tsz, vol. ii., p. 24.

'How should you, a wheelwright, have anything to say about the book

which I am reading? If you can explain yourself, very well; if you

cannot, you shall die.' The wheelwright said: 'Your servant will

look at the thing from the point of view of his own art. In making a

wheel, if I proceed gently, that is pleasant enough, but the

workmanship is not strong; if I proceed violently, that is toilsome

and the joinings do not fit. If the movements of my hand are neither

(too) gentle nor (too) violent, the idea in my mind is realized. But

I cannot tell (how to do this) by word of mouth; there is a knack in

it. I cannot teach the knack to my son, nor can my son learn it from

me. Thus it is that I am in my seventieth year, and am (still)

making wheels in my old age. But these ancients, and what it was not

possible for them to convey, are dead and gone. So then what you, my

Ruler, are reading is but their dregs and sediments. Zen has no

business with the dregs and sediments of sages of yore.