Question: “I have been a proponent of Buddhism for a while now, and I have a question that I have been wondering about for a long time. The Diamond Sutra (which I believe you referenced before, although I am not sure) describes a situation that ‘red’ is not actually ‘red’. We only call it ‘red’ because that is the agreed word for it. How is it that the the teaching of Buddhism itself not an illusion, even when it uses worldly actions (words, language) to describe itself? Or maybe I am misinterpreting?”
You’re on the right track. In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha even says that his teachings are also illusion, but it’s an illusion to teach to be able to see the illusions that are all around us. Since as normal human beings we can only understand and comprehend with words and actions, that is the only way we can be taught. If we don’t name things, then how would we communicate? How would be able to distinguish things, tell stories and live? So the color ‘red’ might not be truly red because we don’t have the Buddha eye/Buddha wisdom to see what it truly is, so we have to call it red and give it a name.
The Diamond Sutra is a beautiful, but very complex and difficult sutra. The premise of the sutra teaches us all about illusions and seeing the reality of things. When we see a flower, it has a name, a color and a smell – we only see it as that, as a tulip, a rose or an orchid. But it’s so much more than that, it’s just just a flower – it is soil, sun, water and air, so we start seeing through the illusions all around us when we start looking at things for what they really are instead of the superficial names and titles we give to those phenomena.
Smile and be well!