Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Calling an orange, "orange"

Question : (Unedited)
Following the concept of emptiness -an orange is an orange, merely a label that our minds give to the orange. It is the mind that gives attribute of good or bad to the item, and so on, whch bring about fear/paranoia/self-doubt.

My question is, is having an imagination (something essential to being an author), contradicting the view on emptiness and thus, also in a way breaking inner peace? I mean, to let your imagination run wild, in order to write a story, isn't that in itself, not seeing an orange as an orange?

I hope you understand my question :) Thank you.

My comment:
Hi L....,

Thank you for asking me.

It will solve your problem if you consider two aspects of your life.  One is the mundane, and the other is the spiritual.  You have to maintain a reasonable balance in this dichotomy of our existence as a lay person.  It is very difficult to always follow strictly the correct spiritual path and interpretation taught by the Buddha, while still living a worldly life.  A lot of our worldly activities and thinking, stands in the way of our spiritual progress.  That was why the Buddha encouraged his serious followers to become monks and concentrate only on the spiritual path, leaving behind the mundane activities of the world.      

I am sure by now your apparent contradictions are resolved.  Your first paragraph is on the spiritual aspect.  Wisdom is attained when you can see through the hallucination of concepts as interpreted by our deluded mind.  We label an orange as "orange" because of our accepted convention to call it such. This is what we called "conventional truth", which we use to communicate with our fellow beings. In reality it is not an "orange".  As an "ultimate truth", it is not an "orange".  Most often we need to express in conventional truths (terms) so as to conduct our lives smoothly and practically.  We cannot insist on sticking to ultimate truths (terms) and become impractical and a nuisance to society.

Now coming to your second paragraph, you are now using your mental faculty and human intelligence to produce an intellectual creation for the conventional world.  This is an intellectual contribution to the world, although spiritually there is nothing beneficial.   

Strike a balance; this is the middle way, the way of moderation, leading to tolerance, understanding, happiness and wisdom.

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