Tao by Matsumoto

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B. What’s a hologram?


<POINT>Holography is the way to project a 3-dimensional image in space.

Have you ever seen a film classic in the 20th century called "Star Wars"?

In the first film of the series, there is a scene the R2D2 robot projects a not-so-clear image of Princess Leia in the air. This is the holography.

If you visit Osaka in Japan, don't miss the Osaka-jo castle.

Inside the medieval looking castle built with advanced technology, there is an interesting exhibition about the history of the castle.

Small but nice moving images of 3-dimensional samurai will tell you what happened there.

Between heaven and earth, isn't it a bellows?

"A bellows" is Lao Tzu's metaphor to explain what a hologram is. His distant disciple Chuang Tzu has a better one.

In «Chuang Tzu», his book 荘子 [so shi/ji] in Kanji / Chinese character, he uses an illustrative anecdote of the frog in a well.

The frog thinks that the wall of the well is the limit of the world, and has never imagined that there is a vast stretch of water called the ocean.

Traditionally, the proverb "The frog in a well knows nothing about the great ocean." has been used to scoff at a person who thinks that he knows all or is the best because of the lack of knowledge and experience outside his small region.

Do we have the right to laugh at the frog after more than two thousand years' misinterpretation with plenty of confidence?

The frog is a man. The wall of the well is a screen. He is surrounded by a 360˚ screen and projects a life size movie.

When you consider that the concept of holography was not available in his day, Chuang Tzu seemed to come up with the best analogy possible.

It's empty, but will never be exhausted.

If you believe that the one and only objective world is surrounding you, you are not really far from the frog in the well.

At some stage, you have to learn that, once the switch of the projector is turned off, all you can see is just a silver screen.

The film coming out of your mind reel doesn't run out, thanks to the hard-working brains. (which are also part of your holographic film. ☞See [Note] below.)

«A hologram in our brain»

Let's look at the other side of the coin. We project our holograms, but where?

Unless we think we are human movie houses walking around with a personalized screen, the only plausible answer could be in our brain.

Suppose it its true, the whole world has to be projected in your head, but what kind of world?

You don't really see either melting icebergs at the North Pole nor collapsing international financial systems at New York Stock Exchange unless you are there.

The world you see is the familiar one surrounding you.

Look around. What do you see constantly?

It's your hands and body because they are the most important. You are the most important.

You cannot see your face directly because it is the least important. Your impression on others is the least important.

What's next? You may see your room or office. You might see your partner, children, friends, or colleagues. You can see the sky through the window. You can see the sea, the mountains, or the towns if you are outside.

Those are more important because they are nearer.

«Reverse your order»

When you accept that the world is projected in our brains, something funny takes place.

You thought before that the world was bigger than you. Now you are bigger than the world.

You are bigger than your room, and your friends and family members are part of the decoration there.

Your school or office is smaller than your room because you spend less time working than sleeping and relaxing at home.

For the same reason, your school or company is bigger than the state. You spend much time at White House unless you are related to the President of the United States or the president himself.

International affairs like wars, famines, and natural disasters in other countries have much smaller importance.

They are so small that you'd be better off if you keep them in a little box (or a flat one) called TV set. Don't let those stories jump out of a piece of paper called newspaper. You don't have to be affected by them.

You can sort the volumes of things in a new order.

You > your brains > the space around you > your family and friends > society > state > media > so-called world affairs

(☞See [Practical uses] Reverse Thinking. This is one of the reasons why the method is effective.)

In Chapter 63, Lao Tzu says, "The small is big. The few is many."

Small things are big. Big things are small. The world that once we thought was objective is totally subjective. It means you can change it as you change your thought.

A holographic world "is empty" because it is projected inside the brains in our head. Then, what are there outside the head.

There's energy constantly circulating. It is the Tao.

You can call it Buddha. You can call it unconditional Love if you want.


An easy way to understand the mechanism of Tao/Hologram (=Shin 心 in Zen Buddhism) is to accept that Self does not exist. Your own self is part of the hologram (=catalyst) and true You are Tao. Therefore, your body, including your brain, is part of the hologram. "The world projected in our brain" is a conceptual bridge between so-called common sense and the Tao/hologram reality. It is used to make your philosophical transition easier. (This kind of teaching tools are called Hoben 方便 in Buddhism.) Once you accept the fact that Self doesn't exist, forget about "The world projected in our brain".

  [Related Articles]


You can find the expression "the frog in the well 井の中の蛙 [i no naka no kawazu]" in Chapter 17 / Autumn Water of the Outer Chapters 外篇, Chuang Tzu 荘子. Watch out! It is NOT in the Inner Chapters 内篇, which are widely available.

-Chapter 1a What is Tao?. The very first article in this site should be read with the article above. Without understanding the concept, Tao by Matsumoto will mean nothing. (Well, there is nothing wrong with "nothing".) Without accepting it, you can't apply it in your life. The hardest thing is accepting the idea of the world being your hologram. After that, everything is going to be easy.

-In Chapter 10b Mirror of Dark Depth, R2D2 and Princess Leia are also mentioned. In Zen, the metaphor of a mirror is adored. An enlightened man with Satori can get lost like a broken mirror. You might think that this is about the fragility of Satori. It is not. It means Satori is always there with you. So is Tao. You don't need thousands of explanations. You are Tao. Don't worry. Just live it.

-Chapter 10c Caution! You & Hologram. Please do not look down on your hologram (=the world). The word "hologram" is never used as a pejorative.

-Chapter 56a Nikko's Three monkeys tells you about another tourist attraction in Japan. Osaka is worth visiting not only because of the castle but because it is the gastronomic centre of Japan. Bon appetite!

-Chapter 11 Thirty spokes, one hub. "Thirty spokes share one hub. Thanks to this emptiness, the wheel is useful." Lao Tzu's beautiful metaphor of holography.

-Chapter 7 No self. "Because he is without self, he can accomplish his self."

-[Practical uses] Nintendo means "Do nothing" Corp.. When you visit Tokyo, you should not miss Nikko and Akihabara. At Akihabara, you can still see some traces of the days when Japan was still a third-world country. Hard to find? Yes, but it's fun to search them.

-Chapter 5 Hologram

-Chapter 5a Straw Dogs

-Chapter 5c Hologram and Tao

Quick guide > Tao Te Ching translation > Chapter 5 > B. What’s a hologram?

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