To truly see the moon, we must gaze beyond the finger

One of the great intellectual adventures in life is finding the thing behind the thing. 

When we notice something, we don’t just look at it, we look through it to a world beyond it. We ponder the many layers and nuances and facets and refractions contained within that thing. 

Seinfeld called this working it over like a train hobo with a chicken bone. 

Buddha called this the parable of truth:

Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words are likened to a finger. And the finger can point to the moon’s location. But the finger is not the moon. To truly see the moon, we must gaze beyond the finger

We must find the thing behind the thing. Because the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. A thinking person makes use of the finger to see the moon. 

But the one who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see it. 

What’s interesting is, our emotions work in a similar way. They’re absolutely true and visceral and human and millions of years older than us. 

But they’re still just fingers pointing at the moon. The more important question is:

What does this feeling want from us? What is our emotion trying to tell us? 

Consider these:

Frustration is a reminder that shows us we have an incomplete understanding. 

Anger is an energy source that gives us the strength we need to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves. 

Guilt is a warning system that alerts us when we have transgressed one of our cherished values. 

Joy is a sign that we know what we like and we let ourselves have all of it. 

That’s what the emotional finger is pointing to.

Those are the things behind the things. 


Are you opening your mind to new ways of seeing the world?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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