Thursday, June 30, 2011

into the light

In "The Republic," Plato creates the allegory of the cave -- a place where many are chained and forced to face a wall. The sun streaming into the cave creates shadows on the wall -- shadows they see as reality. One fellow escapes, goes outside, sees the sun and returns to tell those who remain about the source of their half-baked realities.

It's quite a tale and it certainly fits with a lot of spiritual endeavor ... looking at shadows, missing the source, and screwing the pooch as a result. Perhaps most would like to be like the fellow who made it into the sunlight, who got a better bead on things, who uncovered the truth. Lord knows a life in the shadows leaves a lot to be desired.

But I wonder why no one seems concerned that a life in the light may be every bit as delusional as living in the shadows. Every bit as delusional means every bit as fulfilling...or having every bit the same potential for fulfillment

My mother once asked wryly, "Suppose you could levitate. What the hell would you do with it?" Likewise, suppose you did know God or get enlightened or see the sun or something similar ... what the hell would you do with it? Light relies on shadow. Shadow relies on light. Isn't one of the central problems of an unclear or uncertain life the notion that anything or anyone relies on anything or anyone else? The Buddhist "dependent origination" does not mean anything relies on anything else ... or doesn't either, for that matter. Maybe it means something more along the lines of everything-relies-on-everything-else-without-relying-on-it.

Anyway, this morning I have some sympathy and hope for those who are chained to Plato's cave-wall. It seems to me that they are in every bit as good a position to see the light as the fellow who runs out of the cave and comes back with his "eureka!" Of course it may not be as inspiring to suggest that the same old shadows, the same old uncertainties, the same old doubts and sorrows could be the brightest of suns.

So I guess I won't suggest that. :)

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