Saturday, November 10, 2012

The appearance of Buddhism wisdom

I was reading Wizard of Earthsea to my daughter last night, and there is an interesting passage that caught me off guard, where the pupil Ged is asking how to transform pebbles into diamonds permanently, not just make them appear to be diamonds. His tutor tells him that he must know fully the consequences of an action before doing it, bringing rain here for example, may mean drought for someplace else, so when you intend to do good you may do evil with it. His admonition contains an example: lighting a candle casts shadows.

Now that sounds right until you think about it for a moment. Why should lighting a candle create darkness? Candles create light and light banishes the darkness. What happens if you don't light that candle? Everything stays in darkness, and nobody gets any kind of light. If there is a shadow of any kind created by lighting a candle, it's where the light has not penetrated, a failure to create more light.

Suddenly the wisdom of the Budda doesn't seem so impressive anymore.

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