This is accepting failure, when they say beauty is indefinable. G.E. Moore became so frustrated that he said, “Don’t blame me that I have not been able to define what is good. Even simpler questions – this is a very complex question – are indefinable. For example, what is yellow…?”
That is what G.E. Moore asks, “Can you define what yellow is?” You all know what yellow is. There is no doubt about it. You can all indicate towards a marigold flower…this is yellow. But he is not asking for indications; he is asking, “How have you come to know that this is yellow? What is the definition? What is the criterion that this marigold flower fulfills? Why it is not red? Why is it yellow? You must have certain definitions. Why is something red and something blue and something green and something yellow…on what grounds?”
And then he says, “If yellow cannot be defined and although everybody knows what it is, nobody says, then perhaps all our knowledge is just very superficial.”
Perhaps we have never inquired deeply into anything; we have never gone to the very rock-bottom. Otherwise my own understanding is everything is indefinable, because everything is mysterious. It is not only a question of beauty, or good, of ignorance, or awareness – everything, the whole existence consists only of indefinables. To recognize this is to recognize our ultimate ignorance. And to be able to recognize our ultimate ignorance, you need an absolutely selfless, egoless innocence, because that has been missing.
Bodhidharma is doing the same as everybody else has done. And it is not a new thing – for centuries philosophers have been indulging in simple questions.
You all know two plus two is four. But you have never gone deep into inquiry, whether it is so, or just hearsay. You have heard people saying two plus two is four, so you are repeating it generation after generation.
Bertrand Russell, one of the greatest mathematicians of our age, and perhaps of all ages, has written a book, Principia Mathematica. It takes him two hundred and fifty pages to go into the question, whether or not two plus two is four. You cannot even conceive what he will be writing in two hundred and fifty pages…. Two plus two is simply four and forget all about it. Two hundred and fifty pages…such a dense, logical argumentation that his book is one of the most unreadable books in the world.
Just a few crazy people like me, who don’t care whether it is readable or unreadable…. I have seen in many university libraries that the book has not even been opened. Many pages are joined – nobody has cut them, because even to read two pages is enough! It is one thousand pages in all and one-fourth has gone only in discussing whether or not two plus two is four.