One way that i can be sure that summer’s here (in case the fact that bangalore is starting to feel and smell like chennai wasn’t enough to convince me)-the bees that inexplicably decide to attack an old family photograph hanging in my room every morning at 5-ish. They’re also fairly daft and fond of my fan,so I have to pick up dazed bees with pieces of paper every ten minutes or so and leave them out on my balcony.
This is, of sorts, a summing up of my reflections from the first five orientation weeks of the sangama lab (i have one more blog-The awkwardly titled SAN301 Confluence Blog-which is completely empty, however.That’s where our reflections were supposed to go in the first place, but that idea got ignored).
These are “concept maps”, illustrating links i made between the various ideas we were dealing with during these weeks.
How relevant are the principles behind an ancient, spiritually-inclined body of knowledge like ayurveda today?
I’ve touched your core.
And you wake.
And return to the caverns of your unconsciousness.
I too have these dreams
Yet, i know they are merely so.
Have i stirred something in you?
Are you even aware that I’m out here?
Or did we meet in that same moulding cavern;
Where the echoes drowned out my voice
And you couldn’t bear the noise.
The unfortunate thing about a metaphor is that, it’s poetic nature tends to appeal to highly non-rational aspect of an individual’s thinking. In searching for comparisons with real life scenarios, simplicity is often brought into these topics, making them more accessible, definitely, but, only at a very superficial level. The ancient Greeks seemed all too happy to fall into this trap, but ultimately, finding an extremely convincing vessel for a view makes discussion a little difficult, as you’re limited to the visuals of an image which may not be able to bring about all aspects of the subject.
This allegory is a fascinating one…but it draws clear hierarchies between modes of thought, and seems very absolutist in many aspects of its design. I think on some level I’m blaming a lot of the fallacies we see in predominant Western thought upon this single, very influential, metaphor, which probably explains a lot of my gripes with it. Plato speaks explicitly of an absolute truth in the viewing of the environment through this “light”….a truth which most people are ignorant about, and an ideal towards which every individual should strive. But what if an individual should know nothing but the shadows and the infinitely complex patterns they can also cast on the cave’s uneven wall? Does that make their lives worth less? For these people, the shadows are the reality. If they have no way of knowing what exists behind them, or what’s creating the shadows, it’s arguable that they aren’t losing much.
To bring up another point, this entire metaphor for the cave, with the “less fortunate” shackled at one end, and the free, enlightened being dancing around the light, itself is seems to be contained in a space that’s a mere portion of the rest of the world. Clearly this cave is just a part of something larger, that its inhabitants cannot access. If there can be no issue with that, and a relative ignorance can still be considered an ideal, why can’t the same apply to those tied at the bottom of the cave? Sure, they’re shackled…but similarly, the enlightened ones are trapped within this limited space, and equally so, despite what freedom they have. If the prisoners cannot know what freedom they are lacking, why should it matter to them? And when one of the fortunate ones returns to “help” their previous companions, how are they giving themselves the right to make this decision? Why have these moral values been constructed only in this singular way?
Perhaps, those in the light can see more of the world around them, but they’ll never see the shadows dancing on the walls again. And that, I feel, is equally lamentable.