It is very strange that for Aristotle only white and black exist. In reality, only white and black don’t exist – all other colors exist. Black is only the absence of all the colors and white is the presence of all the colors. Because all the colors are present, no color shows up.
You have to understand a little bit about the colors because they will help you to understand Aristotle and his fallacy. When you see the color white, it means all the rays that are falling on the object are being reflected. Nothing is left behind. You can try a small experiment: you can make a fan with seven wings with all the seven colors of the rainbow on it and connect it to electricity. Then let all the seven wings of the fan move fast and you will be surprised – all colors have disappeared, there is only a white wheel moving.
Small things in life…you don’t think about them. Why do you always use a white umbrella in the sun? Because it returns all the rays outwards, it does not absorb. That’s why in the hot summer under a white umbrella you feel cool, because the sun’s rays don’t enter. They are all reflected back. These are the two colors which are not included in existence itself, and these are the two colors on which the whole of Aristotelian logic depends: black and white.
The East never fell victim to any kind of Aristotelian logic. In the East not a single person ever proposed a logic which simply divides existence into black and white. Gautam Buddha proposes a logic which divides life in four. The alternatives become more, the choices become more. If somebody is not your friend, it does not mean he has to be your enemy. He may be simply indifferent or he may be simply ignorant. He may not know anything about you and your enmity at all. Or he may know, but he has no interest in your enmity; hence, he does not have any participation.
Mahavira’s logic is perhaps the most perfect in the whole world. He accepts seven alternatives, the whole rainbow. Naturally his logic becomes as complicated as life itself. If you ask Mahavira any question, you cannot hope to get a yes or no answer. If you ask the same question to Aristotle, he will be absolutely ready, either yes or no, because those are the only two alternatives.
Mahavira has used a certain word in a way that is unique in the whole history of mankind. He never uses yes or no, because that creates the fallacy that life is divided in two; it is too simplistic. Mahavira always answers everything with a “perhaps” – he keeps open other alternatives.
That’s why he could not gather a great following. The greatest teacher, the most logical man, could not get a great following. Even today, his followers are not more than three and a half million. After twenty-five centuries, even if he had converted thirty-five couples, they would have produced that many children by this time. Three and a half million…for the Indians it is not a big job.