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Switch to Forum Live View Finger Pointing to the Moon
5 years ago  ::  Mar 09, 2010 - 7:43PM #1
JR232
Posts: 3

Hello Buddhist community of Beliefnet. I have a question to ask, and really, I know the gist of this pretty well. This is actually for someone else.


You see, my aunt lost her spouse recently, and her spouse was a Buddhist. Before she died, she kept saying (for about a year prior to her death) something about the finger pointing to the moon analogy and how she feels like she is seeing past the finger and seeing the moon more clearly (something like that).


My aunt doesn't understand the parable too well. She is still pretty shocked about the lose, and she was talking to me on the phone one day and brought this up. She thought I might not know what she is talking about, but I did. She asked me if I can email her something which really elaborates and expalins well the parable. I searched online for a bit, and I haven't found anything that really elaborates and explains this spiritual message. I just found a lot of articles written by people refering to this spiritual message.


So what I ask for is for some members to explain this parable as if they are explaining it to someone who knows nothing about it and then maybe add in things like its orgins in the religion, like from what sect it came from, or if it is directly from the Buddha, or any other helpful information that can be added.


I will really appreciate this. I tried explaining this to her on the phone and she understood it but she wanted to read something on it from the internet to understand it better (because this is important, because her spouse kept talking about it for months before she died as if she knew at some level her time to 'go' was near and when she did mention it, it suggested spiritual fulfillment).


I'd like a clear and comprehensive explaination of this message and I would have written what I know about this parable to her in an email, but I really do think that some people here can write it out better than I, and put in more details that I don't know about.


I'll appreciate the feedback and I'll email this topic to her so she can read the responses. I've known the people at this community to be really nice and helpful so I know some people will be happy to help, so I say thank you in advance. : )

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 10, 2010 - 1:34AM #2
RenGalskap
Posts: 1,420
Hi JR, it's an analogy rather than a parable. When you point a finger at the moon, the finger doesn't look like the moon. You can't learn anything about the moon by looking at the finger. Similarly, there are certain aspects of Buddhism that can't be put into words. Teachers provide words as pointers to these teachings, but the real teaching is always unspoken. You can't understand the unspoken teaching by studying the words.

The expression "finger pointing at the moon" comes from the Zen school of Buddhism. Zen also uses other expressions for the same thing; for example, "you have to study the living word, not the dead word", and "Don't mistake a rope for a snake."

That's really all there is to it. :-)
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5 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2010 - 2:05AM #3
JR232
Posts: 3

Heh, thanks for the response. I thought there would have been more to it than that, but it really is a simple matter; this analogy. Maybe I should have figured it was simple. Isn't that a big part of Zen, keeping things simple, right? : p

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2010 - 2:21AM #4
Ageo
Posts: 453

Mar 9, 2010 -- 7:43PM, JR232 wrote:

Hello Buddhist community of Beliefnet. I have a question to ask, and really, I know the gist of this pretty well. This is actually for someone else.


You see, my aunt lost her spouse recently, and her spouse was a Buddhist. Before she died, she kept saying (for about a year prior to her death) something about the finger pointing to the moon analogy and how she feels like she is seeing past the finger and seeing the moon more clearly (something like that).


My aunt doesn't understand the parable too well. She is still pretty shocked about the lose, and she was talking to me on the phone one day and brought this up. She thought I might not know what she is talking about, but I did. She asked me if I can email her something which really elaborates and expalins well the parable. I searched online for a bit, and I haven't found anything that really elaborates and explains this spiritual message. I just found a lot of articles written by people refering to this spiritual message.


So what I ask for is for some members to explain this parable as if they are explaining it to someone who knows nothing about it and then maybe add in things like its orgins in the religion, like from what sect it came from, or if it is directly from the Buddha, or any other helpful information that can be added.


I will really appreciate this. I tried explaining this to her on the phone and she understood it but she wanted to read something on it from the internet to understand it better (because this is important, because her spouse kept talking about it for months before she died as if she knew at some level her time to 'go' was near and when she did mention it, it suggested spiritual fulfillment).


I'd like a clear and comprehensive explaination of this message and I would have written what I know about this parable to her in an email, but I really do think that some people here can write it out better than I, and put in more details that I don't know about.


I'll appreciate the feedback and I'll email this topic to her so she can read the responses. I've known the people at this community to be really nice and helpful so I know some people will be happy to help, so I say thank you in advance. : )






The return of the North (blue) star.

As man was explained by a simple action near a lotus.  A lotus picked up, as muddy water dripped.  For man is like a lotus, and the waters should not have been mucked.  Mara is by understanding, another name for the same being.

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4 years ago  ::  May 11, 2010 - 10:16PM #5
Amanda
Posts: 3

 I have a great comic strip that I carry in my purse called "Pointing At The Moon"


 


One day, a nun named Wujincang asked the Sixth Zen Patriarch, Huineng, " I've been studying the Nirvana Sutra for years and years, and there are still some passages that I don't quite undestand. Do you think you could explain them to me?"


"I'm sorry, But I can't read.  If you can read the passages out for me, I'll see if I can help you understand them."


"If you can't even read the words, how can you understand the truth behind them?"


"The truth and the words are unrelated.  The truth can be compared the to the moon.  And words can be compared to a finger. I can use my finger to point out the moon, but my finger is not the moon, and you don't need my finger to see the moon, do you?"


*Language is merely a tool for pointing out the truth, a means to help us attain enlightenment.  To mistake words for the turth is almost as ridiculous as mistaking a finger for the moon!


 

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