Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Question of Sunsets.

Tonight’s sunset was one of the best of the year so far, the whole western sky being seared by hot orange flame liberally scattered with drifts of dark grey smoke. It would have done ample justice to a Hobbit’s late view of Mount Doom, and was nothing like the one below (more’s the pity.)

The one I saw tonight reminded me again of that conversation I once read in a book (which I later looked for but couldn’t find.) The master has just explained to the pupil that everything in the phenomenal world is an illusion, and then the pupil points to the sunset.

‘So that beautiful sunset is an illusion?’ he asks.

‘The sunset is an illusion,’ replies the master. ‘The beauty is real.’

That little exchange has long interested and seemed important to me, but I don’t know whether it should be interpreted as:

1. A clever piece of narrative writing which is enjoyable for its own sake.

2. Something to be taken literally as a deep spiritual truth.

3. A philosophical statement which serves my near-conviction that everything of value in life ultimately reduces to the abstract.

I suppose it could be all three, and I have said that I get easily confused, haven’t I?

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