The fish can certainly be deceived, because even men are deceived by shadows. Rinzai’s question is clear and from a height of consciousness. Everybody in the world is deceived by shadows. What are all your imaginations? What are all your dreams?
Have you ever considered the fact that while dreaming you never think that this is unreal? While awake you may think perhaps that all you are saying is unreal, only a dream; but in a dream you can never think that it is a dream, for the simple reason that if you are so much aware as to experience the dream as a dream, the dream will stop. Dreaming can continue only in a very unconscious, unaware state.
The real question is not about the fish. The fish is only a symbol. The real question is about the man.
“If the moonlight on the sea is without shadows, how can the fish be deceived?”
There is only one way for the fish to be deceived, and that is to take the reflection as the real moon.
Horin missed the point. He started explaining why the fish gets caught into a deception. That was not what Rinzai wanted him to do. For him the fish was not the point at all, neither was the reflection of the moon. His concern was this, that what to say about a fish, even men are deceived by shadows – and not only in dreams, but in actual life when they are awake. Every day you continue to get deceived, but you are not aware, hence it does not hurt you and your dignity.
You see a woman as very beautiful – and she is certainly beautiful, but where does that beauty go after the honeymoon? Then you want to kill the same woman for whom you were ready to die one day.
You can appreciate other women’s beauty, but I have never heard of any husband appreciating his own wife’s beauty. Perhaps what he saw was not the real woman as she is; he saw the woman as he wanted to see her.
It was a dream projection, and a dream projection cannot be prolonged for long. Sooner or later the dream projection drops away, and suddenly you see the real person. Nothing has changed: the woman is the same, the man is the same, but neither the woman thinks you are the same man she fell in love with, nor do you think she is the same woman you had fallen in love with.
What happened? Just within a week…and if you are intelligent enough, then just over the weekend. It depends on intelligence. The idiots can live out their whole lives. The more intelligent a person is, the sooner he will see his projections, imaginations dropping, the clouds disappearing, and he will see the pure sky without any clouds – and it is going to change his opinion.
Rinzai is saying that we are all living in shadow. You think, you project, you imagine, you dream. The greatest lovers in the world were those who never met; their love is eternal. People sing songs of Shiri and Farhad, of Laila and Majnu, of Sohini and Mahival, and the only reason why their love is remembered is that they were never allowed by their parents and the society to be together.