Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves

“How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves,” exclaimed Soshi.

“You are not a fish,” commented his friend, “how do you know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?”

“You are not myself,” answered Soshi. “How do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?”

Are those crazy Taoists. It’s like they were Googling Google back in 400 BC (before computers?).

I sat and watched our goldfish this morning as the sun warmed their pond – darting between the weeds – breaking the surface to kiss the morning light. How could I doubt their capacity to enjoy.

For fish the world is water; for one old lady it was a tortoise.

At a public lecture, Bertrand Russell described how the earth orbits around the sun, which orbits around the stars, so on and so forth. At the end of the lecture, up jumped the little old lady.

“Absolute rubbish,” she said. “The world is a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.”

With a superior smile the lecturer answered, “and so what is the tortoise standing on?”

You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady, “but it’s tortoises all the way down.”

I’ve been cleaning windows today. Evicting spiders. Wielding the squeegee like a maestro.

At this point I could spout all manner of metaphors about seeing the world more clearly. About clear minds and clean glass. I could quote the Buddha or Lao Tzu.

But the truth is, no matter how clear the glass, that view I’m looking at might still be propped up by tortoises – all the way down. While the sun is shining and the fish are smiling, I’m not so sure it matters.