The nun Wu Jincang asked the Sixth Patriach Huineng,
"I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas i do not quite understand. Please enlighten me."
The patriach responded, "I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps i will be able to explain the meaning."
Said the nun, "You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?"
"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"
----Language and words are merely symbols with which to express the truth. But to mistake words for the truth is just as laughable as to mistake the finger for the moon. A finger points at the moon, but the moon is not at the tip of the finger. Words points at the truth, but the truth is not in words. Language and words are merely symbols with which to express the truth. To seek illumination through words is to get lost in the web of words and not see the truth.