Since Saturn is
the Task Master, after all, I was wondering if all of you of a philosophical
bent, like myself, would like to join me in
some light philosophical gymnastics
. At the very least we can blow off some steam as we try to bring the dialectic to life and we will be all
warm and loose for the week to come.
I would like to try to do a ‘mash-up’ of sorts with Plato’s Allegory of The Cave
and a statement made by Sufi mystic and exemplar of
, Mullah Nasruddin. The whole idea being; how can we avail ourselves of more Light and Love. ‘Cuz we all want more of that,
Have you ever heard of Mullah Nasruddin
? He was a 13th century Persian mystic and especially he was a Sufi. Let’s catch up on Sufism
and Sufis real quick and then I will introduce Mullah Nasruddin more in depth.
Let’s keep it simple as this is
ATS, after all, and most are caught up. Sufism represents the inner spiritual tradition of Islam. Probably
the single most influential Sufi in the west has been Rumi, another 13th (they were busy then, huh?) century Persian Sufi mystic. He is known for his
poetry, which you can see in my sig. and he is known for the whirling dance done by the dervishes of the Sufi order named for him, the Melevi order of
Sufism. Sufism is known for its tutelary tales, or teaching stories, that are used to convey deeper and deeper spiritual meaning as they are pondered.
The Tales of Mullah Nasruddin are some of the most famous of these tales. They are beloved worldwide and are known for their ridiculously silly
Now, Mullah Nasruddin is a bit of a liminal character in history. Although he is truly believed to have been born during the middle ages in Turkey and
to have lived and circulated throughout the 13th century Persian Empire, his true origins are anyone’s best guess. It is as though Nasruddin and his
stories were so loved that the entire region sort of claimed him as their own. It is sort of like the ‘George Washington slept here’ thing. Here
is the basic Wikipedia run down.
So now that we have who and what Mullah Nasruddin was. Follow with me as we take a brief refresher on Plato’s Allegory of The Cave. I really only
want to take a look at a very specific aspect of leaving
The Cave. I am going to assume that most folks know the tale but I will link you to a
good source for it and run it down in brief.
Oh noes! Plato describes Humanity as being in a bad way. He likens our condition to having been essentially held in bondage in a dark cave. We are
strapped to the floor, our legs immobilized. Our heads are fixed in place and we can only look forward, we even have ‘blinders’ so that we have no
peripheral vision. We can hear and speak, but cannot know whom we hear or speak to.
There is a great fire in a pit at the far wall behind us and it casts a light on the wall before us that we are forced to look at. And there between
our backs and the fire is a pathway. Across the pathway walk servitors carrying all sorts of objects. With our eyes fixed forward, forced to stare at
the wall, these vague shadowy and distorted impressions, cast upon the wall by the many of hundreds of objects that are passed before the fire, are
our best guess at ‘reality’.
That’s a pretty bad place to be in. Now that we have that out of the way I want to focus on what happens when the aspiring Philosopher leaves The
Cave. I will let Plato speak for himself. I am going to take several quotes from the linked text as I wish to convey a point; that to leave The Cave
has its own set of problems…
“…see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and
compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress
him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive someone saying to him,
that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he
has a clearer vision,, what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing And when to the objects as they pass and
requiring him to name them, will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are
now shown to him?”
“And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the
objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?”
“And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the
sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see
anything at all of what are now called realities?”
Ok, I know, we get it. But isn’t it funny? What Mom always said was true; we should not look directly in to The Sun. All sorts of bad things can
happen. It also seems to say something about trying to force others to see the light, as well.
So, we have that established. Running out of the cave and staring directly at The Source of The Light of Truth is not a great idea. In fact it is a
dangerous proposition to leave the cave at all. One might say it was the death of Socrates, after all. So with that established, if I have not lost
you, than please allow me to tell you that Mullah Nasruddin tale that we have been waiting for. Goes like this. It’s short.
So, Mullah Nasruddin walks in to a tea house. He just stands there inside the doorway and declares,
“The Moon is more valuable than the Sun!”
Having grown used to this type of behavior over the years, the patrons of the tea house responded in unison,
And Mullah Nadruddin said,
“Because at Night, we need the Light more.”
So, there we go. We see what Plato says is in store for us if we try to perceive the truth of The Sun directly. And then we have this very funny
little Sufi teaching story, from one of Sufism’s most profound mystics, possibly giving us a hint about the usefulness of The Moon’s light (of
course, reflected Sun light) at ‘night’. At ‘night’. During ‘darkness’ (you get it).
I should clear up whether or not the Medieval Persian mystics had access to the Greeks.
I will do it for you in a link. The answer is yes. Exciting, isn’t it. Think about that. A whole other culture, of the east, consuming and digesting
and being influenced by the Wisdom of the west, the Greeks. I know that won’t be a surprise to many, but it will be to some, and I hope it turns a
light on. Here you go…
edit on 4-2-2012 by Xoanon because: .