Koan of Duality
The student asked the master, “I do not understand duality. Surely good and evil must exist?”
The master replied, “is a hotdog a sandwich?” and walked away.
The student thought for a while and returned to the master.
“It may be a hotdog, a sandwich, both, or neither.”
The master nodded, “how can this be?”
“A man might live in a town where ordering a sandwich might yield a hotdog.”
“Another might live in a town where ordering a sandwich never yields a hotdog.”
“If the two met for lunch in a third town, they would argue about how to interpret the menu. Both would be right in their own town.”
“However, the chef might serve something that neither expects for a hotdog or a sandwich because of the convention of the third town.”
“Names are not objective truth. So the item served, whatever it is, can correctly or incorrectly be called a hotdog. What matters is that no one complains when they are served what they ask for.”1
The master smiled, “good. Master Wittgenstein would be pleased.”
The master punched the student in the arm.
The master asked, “now, was that good or evil?”
“Obviously evil! That hurt!”
The master said, “you have learned nothing” and walked away.
The student was enlightened.
The student pities the soul who calls an ice cream sundae a hot dog, for he will rarely be happy in restaurants. Perhaps he should start his own town. ↩