"Grip your lamp by the base, endure the heat, and gaze into the flame," instructed the master. "If your faith wavers and you look away, or your strength fails and you let go, even for an instant, you will be lost. You will never be wise. But gaze at the flame and, if you prevail, you will know truth."
And the master left them.
The two men gripped their lamps, and gazed into the light. Soon the lamps grew hot from the fire within, and began to burn their hands.
One man let go and stood up. "Aha!" cried the faithful man, as he continued to grip his lantern. "You have shown yourself too weak to become wise."
"Who is wise, the one who holds fire, or the one who lets go?"
The faithless man's eyes adjusted to the dark, and he saw that he was in a library, filled with books. He took his lantern by the handle, and began reading them by it's light. "There are books here!" he said.
The kneeling man became furious. "You have damned yourself to ignorance, don't tempt me to join you! I hold the truth in my hands. I find myself growing wiser already- a feeling you will never comprehend."
The standing man read all that he could, and then went into the next room. There waited the master.
"Master, why did you tell us to be blinded by the lanterns when truth was elsewhere?"
The Master looked at his pupil. "Because, wise as I am, I know that if I tell a man the truth, all he may do is believe it. And truth lies not in believing, but in seeking."
"But Master, he is harming himself by gripping the lamp."
"A true believer is willing to inflict great harm- our friend, at least, will harm only himself, until he finds his common sense."
So go and seek the truth; And do so first by releasing belief.
Parables exist solely to convey a theme or moral truth- plot, setting, everything else is minimized so it doesn't distract from the point of the story. Characters exist only to the degree they're needed to dramatize the theme.
Some schools of thought hold that this is the ultimate embodiment of story, it's highest and purest form. If you grant that stories exist only to convey thematic truth, then they'd be right.
I tend to think otherwise, but exploring this model still proved enlightening. And productive- I wound up discovering a few parables of my own.
And that's really how it felt with these- not like writing, but like finding. Once discovered, it seemed only appropriate to transcribe them- and why not, share them.
So here's my first- the Parable of the Lantern.
You have assembled this in a way that has a simple stream but a more complex surface underneath the flowing water of itself, that said it is true at least that Wisdom is garnered through Effort, Experience and Excellent Curiosity; for how can one gain such a thing through blind faith alone when like any Journey it must be met and walked.
A very fine piece of true inspiration.
very worthwhile read.
Well played my friend....well played indeed...
First and foremost, I find this quite interesting. The parable itself is written nicely - succinct and intent. It doesn't go longer than it needs to, it doesn't trip over itself in an attempt to be all "heavy-handed" or the like. And it proposes a valuable lesson...
...though the lesson I see is slightly...contrary? Different?
It is absolutely true that people can and do blind themselves with inaction or doing only exactly what they are told. It is true that in order to become wise we must be seeking out answers and asking more questions. However, what are we without holding to what we believe?
I've never seen the Earth as being round. Neither have 99% of all people. I haven't gone up into space, looked down, and said "Yep. It's a sphere." All I have are pictures taken from other people and the claims of such. But I have studied those accounts - and I have seen impacts that support the idea of a round world in my own experiences (the same things we all see). So, I believe the Earth is round. And it's most probable that it's correct...
The master in this parable is wise - especially in the way he is teaching his pupils. They learn the truth that just holding fire is harmful - and does not hold value to them. However, it is the tool to obtain the wisdom they seek. And the books aren't just going to tell them what they hold. And even still, reading the books will require the student to trust and evaluate what is written. Trust is a form of belief. Evaluation is a form of verifying and assessing whether that trust is properly placed.
I am a "religious person" (I might debate you on what that means...but it's not important) - but in my faith, it is important to seek knowledge, and find value in truth, wisdom, and experience; but most of all, it is essential that we come to our own understanding and desire for what we believe. Having faith, but not doing anything about it, is pointless and foolish.
And...it seems I'm the one throwing in this big commentary on the parable. Oh boy...
Fact is, I enjoyed this parable, and found it quite valuable. The fact I am presenting my own view/opinion on the conclusion of it states that it impacted me enough to be willing to propose my opinion. I don't usually do that, because I don't like to be "argumentative".
Once again, I enjoy this parable. (Just as I enjoy most stuff you write). It is always incredibly fascinating to find ideas that people can both agree and debate at the same time. It's always good to be thinking. Great job.
And while a lot of folks on the internet can get rather heated over who is or isn't religious- I think it just boils down to whether or not we treat our fellow humans well. I like what a friend of mine once said about religion, and which one is 'right'. His response was the one that brings you closer to God. Or, for an atheist, the one that brings you closer to compassionate and beneficial patterns of behavior.
I love it.
There was once a tiger striped cat who was immortal, he lived a thousand lives, and died a thousand times. One day, he found a female tiger striped cat. They spent all of their days together and grew happy together.The Tiger striped cat found peace. One day, the female tiger striped cat died. The Tiger striped cat cried a thousand nights and eventually died, but this time he didn't come back to life.
Taking the parable's metaphor further, why not use the lantern's light to read with? Belief is not without its place--just don't let yourself be blinded by it.
Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you can achieve your dreams? Do you have faith in your friends, that they won't betray you? Without belief, we're just lazy and cynical.
Plus, you'd be surprised what it can do. It allows a person to lift a two-ton vehicle so an accident victim can be pulled to safety. It allows a bystander to fight off an armed robber. It lets a soldier do his duty on the battlefield.
Gah, now you've got me being all philosophical. I'm not supposed to be deep; I'm supposed to be amusing! If I was going to be both, I'd be on stage as a stand-up comedian.