Imagine you are a fish in a pond.
While in school, your teacher tries to convince you that it is impossible to see through water. Of course this seems ridiculous to you at first, but then he stirs up the mud at the bottom of the pond. Soon the entire pond is completely clouded. You cannot even see the fish around you or the teacher. “See?” Your teacher says, “you are in water and you cannot see. Now you know that it is impossible to see through water.”
Some of you and your classmates recognize that it is not water that is blocking your vision, but the mud that your teacher spread in front of you that makes it impossible to see. You recognize that when the mud settles, you will again be able to see again like normal, because the mud and water will again be separated.
But some of the fish begin to feel confused and lost. In panic, they turn to the teacher for help. The teacher replies, “The only safe place is the bottom of the pond. At least there, you can feel something beneath you.” They follow, because they don’t know what else to do.
As the mud settles, they are buried in the mud. Their “new perception” that mud is the same as water is therefore confirmed in their minds, and they remain in the much ever after.
Though unhappy in their new state, they pride themselves on their new understanding, wondering how they could have ever been deluded into thinking that what they once experienced was sight. They scoff at the fish above, swimming happily about the pond. They mock them, telling them that their childish belief in “Clear” water is just a tradition that their parents convinced them of. They say, “Yeah, we once thought as you do, but now we see what water really is. Sight is an illusion. You cannot trust your senses. The only safe place is the bottom of the pond.”
The wise know the difference between the mud and the water.