While my wife and I helped paint the bench with my Buddhist Monk friend as recounted in this post, said Monk posed a question to us. Since we were painting in various shades of green he asked:
“What is teal? Is it green or is it blue?”
I think I said that it was more blue than green, while my friend said that he saw green. My wife bridged the divide by saying it was both. My friend and I both urged her to pick a side. She would not. Eventually some talk was made about how everybody’s eyes see things differently and we let the subject drop. I thought no more of it.
Later that night I had a conversation with the venerable Monk in which he told me of a time when he shared dharma with a group of kids without them even knowing. Something about energy and where it goes after exiting the body at death. This conversation got me thinking if that was what he was up to when he asked us whether teal was blue or green. Was this a lesson in dharma?
Because if everyone sees the color teal differently, as the three of us all did, then it confirms a principle of dharma which says that the world is an illusion and it becomes real only in connection with the “reality” our individual senses assign to it. It is completely subjective. The answer to “What is green?” is as much of a “fact” as the answer to “Does Dr. Pepper taste good?” It doesn’t, by the way. But that is my subjective perspective on the matter. Since all facts must at their root be a result of sensory input, all “facts” must be just as subjective. And so, the answer to the question “Is teal green or is it blue?” might as well be “Forty-two.”
Or maybe my friend was just testing me for color-blindness.