SU SHI’S PHILOSOPHY OF BEING IN THE LIGHT

The way to the truth. It is found from the outside perspective

In western culture, the light is an emblem of goodness opposing darkness. As the Bible says: ‘God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.’

The light is also coupled with the truth since ‘whoever lives by the truth comes into the light’. As we all believe, light brings us the truth. It is through the light that everything reveals. According to the Bible, being in the light parallels knowing the truth. The ‘light’ symbolizes the truth.

However, the truth seems vague for those who are in the ‘light’. Since Su Shi, a Chinese poet in the Tang dynasty once wrote in his famous poem Written on the Wall at West Forest Temple:

‘Of Mountain Lu, we cannot make out the true face, for we are lost in the heart of the very place.’

‘the true face of Mountain Lu’ becomes a Chinese phrase referring to the truth of something inscrutable to those involved. We are lost since we are on the mountain.

The poem implies that to grasp the essential nature of something one has to be an outsider. To have eyes of an outsider is a necessary condition for perceiving the truth of something. Outsiders, therefore, understand the truth better than insiders. Instead.


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MACKAYAN: SU SHI PHILOSOPHY


By Rosalind Wang: Arts Columnist


of emphasizing the importance of being in the light, Su Shi uncovered the truth by being outside of the ‘light’. Su Shi brings us to another understanding of the ‘light’. If the light equals the truth, one has to be out of the light to know the truth.

Unlike the people in the medieval age, we believe that the highly developed modern science has rid us of ignorance. We are in the ‘light’ as opposed to being in the ‘darkness’. We are proud of this enlightenment and reckon we have known all the truth. However, according to Su Shi, this enlightenment made us part of the truth so that hardly do we know the truth. ‘Being in the light’ renders us oblivious of the truth. Since we are already part of the truth. We are in the light but do not really know the ‘light’.

Just like one cannot behold the brightness of light unless she/he is in the darkness, being in the light renders the truth impalpable. This is why we shall take the ‘darkness’ into account. Instead of being always in the light, we can step out of the light as if we had never known the light. Being ignorant sometimes is a means to perceive the beauty of ‘light’.


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