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Weekly Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

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    Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
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    Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    “The mind wills the entrance to the cave, but the heart must find the way.”

    — Aquarian Almanac

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Weekly Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    February 25, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    You should try to be poor as an individual, but to be
    rich as a member of humanity. — APOLLONIUS

    The more the marble sheds, the more the statue grows. — MICHELANGELO

  • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
    Gerry Kiffe
    Moderator
    Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

    Is it not true that Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is a study in the levels of reality and illusion?

    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      Yes, it is, Gerry. But we need to be careful not to mix up the various metaphors/analogies of ‘The Cave’.

      For Plato, the cave was where the person experienced illusion (the shadows on the wall), while reality, symbolised by sun, could only be experienced on ‘escaping’ from the cave. The transition is from darkness into light, ignorance to wisdom.

      In the Upanishads the metaphor of the cave is used in a different way. The luminous Brahman dwells in the cave of the Heart and can be experienced there. The transition from ignorance (darkness) to wisdom (light) is here achieved through withdrawing the mind from the external world of ‘illusion’ and the senses into the Heart wherein dwells the highest reality.

      In Plato’s analogy, the student needs to find the exit from the cave, not the entrance into it. Whereas the quote from the Almanac appears to say the student needs to find the entrance into the cave, suggesting a different use of the analogy. In other words, the quote and picture don’t really seem to support each other.

      ~~

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    February 26, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    The seeds of Wisdom cannot sprout and grow in airless
    space. To live and reap experience, the mind needs breadth
    and depth and points to draw it towards the Diamond
    Soul. — THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE

    A man is not idle because he is absorbed
    in thought. — VICTOR HUGO

  • Profile photo of Kirk Marzulo
    Kirk Marzulo
    Participant
    Profile photo of Kirk MarzuloKirk Marzulo

    Continuing the discussion on illusion and reality:

    “All that which is, emanates from the ABSOLUTE, which, from this qualification alone, stands as the one and only reality — hence, everything extraneous to this Absolute, the generative and causative Element, must be an illusion, most undeniably. But this is only so from the purely metaphysical view. A man who regards himself as mentally sane, and is so regarded by his neighbours, calls the visions of an insane brother — whose hallucinations make the victim either happy or supremely wretched, as the case may be — illusions and fancies likewise. But, where is that madman for whom the hideous shadows in his deranged mind, his illusions, are not, for the time being, as actual and as real as the things which his physician or keeper may see? Everything in the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient being, whose consciousness is on that plane; though the said experience, regarded from the purely metaphysical standpoint, may be conceived to have no objective reality. But it is not against metaphysicians, but against physicists and materialists that Esoteric teachings have to fight, and for these Vital Force, Light, Sound, Electricity, even to the objectively pulling force of magnetism, have no objective being, and are said to exist merely as “modes of motion,” “sensations and affections of matter.” -S.D., Vol 1, p. 295-6

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
    Participant
    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    There are two variants: either there is something outside the material reality, or – it doesn’t matter.

    Curiously, the way out begins with being more conscious of this existence – sort of merging the inner and the outer. Then we can transfer the awareness we gain in this life to the next one, the “inner” one.

    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      Pavel – I liked your two variants. This position reminded be a little bit of Pascal’s Wager. Roughly put, he argued that if you could neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, you may as well believe in God and act accordingly. If God did exist you were in for an infinite reward, if God didn’t exist it you hadn’t lost anything.

      ~~

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
        Participant
        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        Yes, I think I have read about this Pascal’s wager, and may have been subconsciously influenced by it. It’s curious, though, what a relief I experienced by understanding this. Tells one much, how different ideas can be when understood on different levels.

  • Profile photo of James
    James
    Participant
    Profile photo of JamesJames

    There is a very ancient tradition that connects a cave with Christ’s birth where what is termed the first initiation or first major point on the path of return takes place with the birth of the Christ consciousness/Christos in the cave of the Heart.
    Occasionally one will come across writings/paintings that indicate an inner vision concerning a cave and a mystery to be pondered on, possibly varying with each person.
    This painting seems to indicate such a vision and how we are fascinated/distracted by the physical world which is only the end product, or illusionary shadows, of a spiritual reality illumed by the Spiritual fire that lays behind the stone wall of lower concrete mind. The symbols could indicate what one needs to meditate/contemplate on to progress further.

    The quote; “The mind wills the entrance to the cave, but the heart must find the way” is telling us that no matter how much man/the mind may want the above to take place, it is only when the heart has reached a certain degree of purity that it becomes possible.

    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      That’s very interesting, James. I’m not familiar with that story. We also have the saptaparna cave associated with the Buddha’s teachings, which is sometimes referred to as a place of initiation and, as mentioned above, we have the Cave of Brahman which resided in the heart from the Upanishads & so on. The symbol of the cave appears to have been an important one in many spiritual traditions.

      Symbols, metaphors and analogies can be used in different ways, and along with pithy quotes and ‘one liners’ it’s often very necessary, at least to my mind, to see them in their context before we can begin to appreciate what the author/teacher meant by their use.

      The picture of The Cave, given above, is one of many similar ones found on the internet and purposefully meant to symbolise the analogy of the Cave used by Plato. What I find interesting is how so many of such pictures omit to include the Sun in the Upper World (the world outside and above the cave), which is an absolutely crucial part of the Plato’s analogy. This represents the Form of ’The Good’ – that which illuminates everything in the Intelligible Word (the upper world) just as the physical sun (symbolised by the fire in the analogy) illuminates everything in the visible world (the flickering shadows on the wall).

      ~~

      • Profile photo of James
        James
        Participant
        Profile photo of JamesJames

        Hi Peter,
        As the understanding of the cave I presented presumably takes place on the inner or mental plane, therefore the presence of a physical plane Sun is unnecessary.

        • Profile photo of Peter
          Peter
          Moderator
          Profile photo of PeterPeter

          James – thanks. I understand. I wasn’t referring to your analogy. If you read again what I wrote you will see that I was referring to the many pictures found “on the internet and purposefully meant to symbolise the analogy of the Cave used by Plato.” This is our current Theme for Contemplation, as Gerry notified us the other day, hence the use of one of those pictures to accompany our topic, presumably.

          What’s often missing in these pictures is not the physical sun, as such. but the image of the sun in the upper world outside of the cave, which for Socrates/Plato symbolises the Form of the Good – the source from which all Wisdom and Knowledge arises.

          ~~

  • Profile photo of Peter
    Peter
    Moderator
    Profile photo of PeterPeter

    The allegory of the cave from Plato’s ‘The Republic’, Book VII (Edited)

    (Note: while reading Socrates description of the Cave it may help to look at the picture provided above in our Theme for Contemplation.)

    Socrates: And now, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

    Glaucon: I see.

    Socrates: And do you see men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

    Glaucon: You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

    Socrates: Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

    Glaucon: True, how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

    Socrates: And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

    Glaucon: Yes,

    Socrates: And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

    Glaucon: Very true.

    Socrates: And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

    Glaucon: No question.

    Socrates: To them the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

    Glaucon: That is certain.

    Socrates: And now look again, and 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 some one 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 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?

    Glaucon: Far truer.

    Socrates: 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 and take 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?

    Glaucon: True.

    Socrates: And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he ‘s 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.

    Glaucon: Not all in a moment.

    Socrates: He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

    Glaucon: Certainly.

    Socrates: Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

    Glaucon: Certainly.

    Socrates: He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

    Glaucon: Clearly. He would first see the sun and then reason about him.

    Socrates: And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

    Glaucon: Certainly, he would.

    Socrates: And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, ‘Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?’

    Glaucon: Yes. I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

    Socrates: Imagine once more such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

    Glaucon: To be sure.

    Socrates: And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

    Glaucon: No question.

    Socrates: This entire allegory, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.

    Glaucon: I agree, as far as I am able to understand you.

    Socrates: Moreover, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.

    Glaucon: Yes, very natural.

    Socrates: And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice? **

    Glaucon: Anything but surprising..

    Socrates: Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.

    (** Note: The reference to having to fight in the courts of law may well be a reference to Socrates himself, as he was awaiting trial in the courts for his views.)

    ~~

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
    Participant
    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    It strikes me how the analogy of the cave matches what I have just been reading in Graham Hancock’s “Magicians of the Gods.” There, in chapter 7 (part III) he re-tells the Zoroastrian story of Yima who was instructed by Ahura Mazda to build underground enclosures (Varas, or hypogeums) in order to survive the imminent catastrophe, which was about to occur due to the collision of a comet with the atmosphere of the Earth. The collision, as well as evidence relating to it and numerous historical repercussions, is what constitutes the central theme of the book. Ample data (historical and scientific) suggest that the event must have occurred about 12,800 years ago, bringing with it the demise of the previously existing civilization(s), effectively erasing their history, and serving as a starting point for the period in the history of mankind which we are mostly familiar with.

    Apparently, actual underground enclosures, similar to those described in the Zoroastrian myth, – notably, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli – have been discovered in Turkey. They include tunnels, “extending over an area of more than 4 square kilometers,” “megalithic doors, shaped like millstones, 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.8 meters) in diameter and weighing close to half a ton,” stairways and ramps connecting the multiple levels of the enclosure. Allegedly, there are over two hundred such subterranean structures in Turkey. The theory is that they were designed to survive the aftermath of the catastrophe, which should have lasted for at least a few hundred years.

    The allegory of the Cave may have been firmly rooted in reality.

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
    Participant
    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    May it be assumed that the “flickering shadows” on the wall of the cave are how we experience the world through our senses, while the True Reality is more related to the life of the Mind (united with the Heart)?

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    February 27, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    It is given to man to have that which he chooses and to
    be that which he wills. — PICO della MIRANDOLA

    The heights by great men reached and kept
    Were not attained by sudden flight,
    But, they while their companions slept,
    Were toiling upward in the night.
    — HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

  • Profile photo of Peter
    Peter
    Moderator
    Profile photo of PeterPeter

    Pavel writes: May it be assumed that the “flickering shadows” on the wall of the cave are how we experience the world through our senses, while the True Reality is more related to the life of the Mind (united with the Heart)?
    ———-

    I would say that is just what Plato is suggesting, Pavel. I agree.

    In order to appreciate the analogy of Plato’s Cave in part seven of The Republic we probably need to see it in the context of the preceding sections.

    Previously, Socrates seeks to explain to Glaucon the difference between the Ideal and the Actual i.e.

    – the Intelligible realm of the Perfect Forms & Knowledge (the noumenal world)
    …in contrast to
    – the Visible realm of phenomena and Opinion (the empirical wold of sense experience and beliefs).

    Socrates also argues that just as the sun in the visible world is the cause of all growth, makes all things visible and grants the power of seeing to the eye; in a similar way, the Form of the Good is the cause of all the Forms existence, the Being of being, and for granting the power of Knowing to the mind.

    The world of the cave is the empirical realm of the senses, our day to day experiences, where we do not know reality directly but form many beliefs and opinions about it. Leaving the cave, moving towards the ‘natural’ light, symbolises developing the mind and understanding to apprehend more directly real existence. Only through the mind and proper reasoning can the Intelligible realm be known. Socrates says that should the individual persist, as s/he grows accustomed to the light of the upper world outside of the cave (Intelligible realm of Forms) eventually the individual may turn towards the Sun itself (’The Form of the Good’), this symbolising the highest knowledge attainable – seeing ‘truth as it is.‘

    Plato doesn’t have a lot to say about ‘the heart’, as such, at least not in the sense you refer to it in your question. That said, for Plato true Understanding requires love – love of the Truth – so, perhaps that may be the link to your intuitive sense of ‘Mind united with Heart’.

    I can’t see any reason why the Mind and Heart and/or the Will and the Heart should not be an aspect of Plato’s analogy of the Cave, we just need to be clear what the Cave symbolises in Plato’s story and that it might not be the same as used in other traditions. We talk about the Self in the cave of the heart when drawing upon the symbology of some traditions, thus those perspectives it is through the heart that we enter the Cave and into ‘the light’. In Plato’s analogy, humans grow up in the cave and are so accustomed to living in the shadows where ignorance reigns (even winning honours for it) that they often need to be dragged by the heels out of the cave and into the Light.

    ~~

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Peter Peter.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Peter Peter.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Peter Peter.
  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    February 28, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    We must reserve a back shop all our own, entirely free, in which to establish our
    real liberty and our principal retreat and solitude.
    — MICHEL de MONTAIGNE

    This dead of midnight is the noon of thought. — ANNA BARBAULD

    The castle is burning, but it has a lord. — Hasidic Saying

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
    Keymaster
    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    March 1, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    The true physician is a ruler having the human body as a subject. — SOCRATES

    The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize
    that we ought to control our thoughts. — CHARLES DARWIN

  • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
    Pavel Axentiev
    Participant
    Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

    Thank you for telling it in your own words, Peter!

    I find it nearly uncanny, that Plato describes here a full-blown mystical experience, so to say, and that his heritage has been one of the most honored in the last 400 years of human history, yet the civilization that has developed so far generally has no acceptance or understanding of mystical experiences. It’s almost like we, humans, are living in two worlds simultaneously – one, the world of technology, science, and materialism – and the other, of literature, arts, poetry, philosophy, and mysticism. It’s quite difficult to reconcile this in one’s brain, apparently.

    • Profile photo of Peter
      Peter
      Moderator
      Profile photo of PeterPeter

      Thank you for telling it in your own words, Peter!
      __________

      You’re welcome, Pavel. Do I understand from your statement that the intended meaning in Plato’s dialogues isn’t as clear as it might be!? The thing with Plato’s dialogues is that he builds on ideas that he makes Socrates share over many different dialogues both in and prior to ‘The Republic’. The analogy of the Cave particularly brings together in pictorial form many of the ideas already debated much earlier in ‘The Republic’. These include the nature of morality, Justice, the three classes of human beings, the tripartite nature of the individual (which, incidentally, is very similar to what you outlined in The Fourth Way), who is fit to rule in the State, the Philosopher as ruler, the realm of Forms, the Good as the ultimate Object of Knowledge, the Divided line (Intelligible and Visible realms) & so on.

      There’s a lot of context to take into account in any of the symbolism found in Plato, but it’s spread out over all his works, so much so, that some people have even claimed there is no underlying philosophy in Plato’s works, since many of the dialogues of Socrates explore important issues but appear to come to no conclusion at all. Clearly Plato’s followers didn’t hold this view.

      Did you mean to say that Plato’s heritage had been one of the most respectable for the last 2400yrs, rather than 400yrs? Plato’s birth is given as 384BC. The Academy he founded lasted around 800-900 years. When a student enrols in a course on Western Philosophy she will no doubt be told somewhere near the commencement of her studies that Western Philosophy is merely series of footnotes to Plato (adapting a quote from A.N.Whitehead).

      Yes, we do seem to be living in a divided world – perhaps much like Plato’s ‘Divided Line’? – and collectively our inner life gets little nourishment.

      ~~

      • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
        Pavel Axentiev
        Participant
        Profile photo of Pavel AxentievPavel Axentiev

        Yes, Peter, I did prefer reading your exposition of the ideas than the actual original. I am reading the wonderful Collected Works of Plato, prepared by the great Russian philosopher A. F. Losev as well his wife/life partner, in Russian, and The Republic in English (also a wonderful translation, by F. Cornford), but generally it takes a little more intention for me than, e.g., taking part in a pleasant conversation.

        Also, I took quite an arbitrary period of 400 years, trying to err on the lesser side, considering that the heritage of Plato and his followers became practically unknown in Europe in the Middle Ages, and then it, perhaps, took a few centuries after the re-discovery of his works during the Renaissance for them to become widely known.

  • Profile photo of Peter
    Peter
    Moderator
    Profile photo of PeterPeter

    Kirk, I keep meaning to say this is a really good passage you’ve shared from the SD on illusion and reality. It raises some important questions as to just what it is that counts as an illusion. Here’s an initial few that come to mind that a philosophical inquirer might consider and which group members might also wonder about. There are plenty of other questions, of course.

    HPB states that everything extraneous to the Absolute must be an illusion. We also find ‘the Absolute’ is referred to at times throughout HPB’s works as the Infinite Totality or the Unknown Totality. This naturally raises the question as to how there could be anything extraneous to the Absolute. If there can be two ‘things’ – the Absolute and something which is outside of it which exists in some illusory way – in what sense is the Absolute actually Absolute or the Totality? Or, looked at from the other side, if the Absolute is the Totality how should we understand the nature of any illusion that is said to arise in that Totality? In other words, is there any room for illusion in a reality which is the Absolute ALL?

    It seems to me the above are the kind of issues that Kristan’s recent reflections pointed towards.

    HPB goes on to say that everything “in the experience of any plane is an actuality for the percipient”. What does this tell us? For example – two friends take a walk in the evening twilight and one mistakes a post in the distance for a person while her friend simply sees the post as a post. While their experiences are different – one correct (real) the other mistaken (illusory) – we would not deny that for each person their experience is an actuality for them.

    At one level this tells us that our experience can be both reliable and unreliable as a guide to the world we live in. When exploring the notion of illusion and reality, perhaps we sometimes forget just how much our senses help us navigate the world from one moment to the next throughout our lives even though they can be mistaken at times.

    At another level HPB says that from a metaphysical standpoint all of our experiences (correct or mistaken) may be conceived to have no reality at all. If so, we would need to explore what to that make of that statement. How can an experience which is ‘actual’ have no reality at all?
    Does this also imply that the apprehension of Reality can never be an experience?

    ~~

    • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
      Pierre Wouters
      Moderator
      Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

      “Does this also imply that the apprehension of Reality can never be an experience?”

      I would have to agree with that statement as the etymology of the word ‘experience’ proves it: Experience comes from the Latin experientia from the verb experior from perior (try, attempt), which derives from the Greek verb peirao (try, attempt, test, get experience; πειράω).

      I think HPB gives an excellent explanation of what illusion represents relative to the perceiver in SD I:328-330

      “Cosmic Ideation is said to be non-existent during Pralayic periods, for the simple reason that there is no one, and nothing, to perceive its effects. There can be no manifestation of Consciousness, semi-consciousness, or even “unconscious purposiveness,” except through the vehicle of matter; that is to say, on this our plane, wherein human consciousness in its normal state cannot soar beyond what is known as transcendental metaphysics, it is only through some molecular aggregation or fabric that Spirit wells up in a stream of individual or sub-conscious subjectivity. And as Matter existing apart from perception is a mere abstraction, both of these aspects of the ABSOLUTE — Cosmic Substance and Cosmic Ideation — are mutually inter-dependent. In strict accuracy — to avoid confusion and misconception — the term “Matter” ought to be applied to the aggregate of objects of possible perception, and “Substance” to noumena; for inasmuch as the phenomena of our plane are the creation of the perceiving Ego — the modifications of its own subjectivity — all the “states of matter representing the aggregate of perceived objects” can have but a relative and purely phenomenal existence for the children of our plane. As the modern Idealists would say, the co-operation of Subject and Object results in the Sense-object or phenomenon. But this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is the same on all other planes; that the co-operation of the two on the planes of their septenary differentiation results in a septenary aggregate of phenomena which are likewise non-existent per se, though concrete realities for the Entities of whose experience they form a part, in the same manner as the rocks and rivers around us are real from the stand-point of a physicist, though unreal illusions of sense from that of the metaphysician. It would be an error to say, or even conceive such a thing. From the stand-point of the highest metaphysics, the whole Universe, gods included, is an illusion; but the illusion of him who is in himself an illusion differs on every plane of consciousness; and we have no more right to dogmatise about the possible nature of the perceptive faculties of an Ego on, say, the sixth plane, than we have to identify our perceptions with, or make them a standard for, those of an ant, in its mode of consciousness. The pure object apart from consciousness* is unknown to us, while living on the plane of our three-dimensional World; as we know only the mental states it excites in the perceiving Ego. And, so long as the contrast of Subject and Object endures — to wit, as long as we enjoy our five senses and no more, and do not know how to divorce our all-perceiving Ego (the Higher Self) from the thraldom of these senses — so long will it be impossible for the personal Ego to break through the barrier which separates it from a knowledge of things in themselves (or Substance). That Ego, progressing in an arc of ascending subjectivity, must exhaust the experience of every plane. But not till the Unit is merged in the ALL, whether on this or any other plane, and Subject and Object alike vanish in the absolute negation of the Nirvanic State (negation, again, only from our plane), is scaled that peak of Omniscience — the Knowledge of things-in-themselves; and the solution of the yet more awful riddle approached, before which even the highest Dhyan Chohan must bow in silence and ignorance — the unspeakable mystery of that which is called by the Vedantins, the PARABRAHMAM.
      Therefore, such being the case, all those who sought to give a name to the incognizable Principle have simply degraded it. Even to speak of Cosmic Ideation — save in its phenomenal aspect — is like trying to bottle up primordial Chaos, or to put a printed label on ETERNITY.

      * Cosmic Ideation focussed in a principle or upadhi (basis) results as the consciousness of the individual Ego. Its manifestation varies with the degree of upadhi, e.g., through that known as Manas it wells up as Mind-Consciousness; through the more finely differentiated fabric (sixth state of matter) of the Buddhi resting on the experience of Manas as its basis — as a stream of spiritual INTUITION.”

      Thus: “so long as the contrast of Subject and Object endures” and “not till the Unit is merged in the ALL, whether on this or any other plane, and Subject and Object alike vanish in the absolute negation of the Nirvanic State” indicates that the apprehension of Reality cannot be an experience, since “ex-perience” relates to the contrast of subject and object, perceiver AND perceived.

  • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
    Grace Cunningham
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    Profile photo of Grace CunninghamGrace Cunningham

    Found this gem recently:

    “Symbols of divine truth were not created for the amusement of the ignorant; they are the alpha and omega of philosophic thought.” -HPB

    It seems to me that symbols such as the cave have a variety of meanings and uses depending on the context. The important thing is to use the symbol to explore and enrich some conception that one is formulating.

  • Profile photo of Peter
    Peter
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    Profile photo of PeterPeter

    Pierre – thanks. Just how many amazing passages are there in the Secret Doctrine!

    Here’s another view about ‘experience’ which might also give another perspective on illusion and reality for members to consider.

    In the Advaita Vedanta tradition ‘experience’ is normally said to belong to the three states of Waking (sthulopadhi), Dream (Sukshmopadi) and Deep-Sleep (Karanopadhi), but not to the non-dual Atman (Turiya). While these are often referred to as the four states, if we include Atman, we sometimes find the Advaita sages maintaining that, strictly speaking, Turiya (Atman) should not be referred to as a state, for it is not a realm of experience. Each of the three is seen as a upadhi of Atman, while at the same time Atman is also said to be the substratum, the underlying ground of reality to all of these. Reality according to Advaita is in the name: a-dwaita, which means not-two.

    However, if the reality of the world is ‘not-two’ the issue is how to explain a) the experience of duality and separateness and b) how can there be two things – a non-dual Reality and a world of illusion? The Advaitee says there was, is and only ever will be the non-dual Atman-Brahman. Two analogies are used to indicate how this might be so.

    The first is one that members have already referred to in previous posts, i.e. the snake and the rope. In a half light (symbolising ignorance) we mistake a rope for a snake. We may have all kinds of reactions to the threat of the snake, however, when ignorance is removed we discover that there only ever was a rope. There never was a snake.

    In the same way, according to the Advaitee, while we perceive duality and separateness all about us, and perceive the world as ‘other’ to ourselves, that perception of duality is regarded as the result of ignorance. In truth everything is non other than Atman (Brahman). Reality is not somewhere else, on a different plane etc, that we have to get to. What we need to do is remove ignorance (avidya) to discover the real nature of ourselves and the world. When avidya is removed Knowing is non other than Being that underlying Reality.

    The other analogy used by the Advaitee is that of the pot and the clay. First there was only the clay. The pot is merely a form of clay. The pot form and has no existence of its own, independent of the clay. If we break up the pot-form the clay, the substance of the pot, remains.

    The Pot is just a name and form (nama-rupa) superimposed on the clay. The analogy is that likewise the world is just name and form superimposed upon Atman-Brahman which is the underlying substance, substratum, of the world. While there appear to be many ‘forms’ existing as if they have an independence of their own, the truth is that none of them are anything other than that underlying reality, the substratum of all, which is Atman-Brahman.

    The world cannot be said to be unreal, because we experience it. Try stepping into the road to ascertain whether a moving car is unreal or not. But neither can it be said to be real in the sense that it has an existence of its own independent of the underlying reality (such as the pot).

    SAT, is the term for that which truly exists across the three times (past, present and future). In other words, Atman or Brahman.
    ASAT, is the term for that which has no existence at all at any time (examples for given for things which don’t exist at all the horns of a rabbit or the son of a barren woman. There are probably better examples but give an idea of what is meant.)
    MITHYĀ, refers to that which is indeterminable, i.e. is neither SAT nor ASAT. For example, we can’t say the pot (world) doesn’t exist at all – Asat. But neither is it any thing other than the clay (SAT; Atman).

    The great sage, Ramana Maharshi, regarded as a jivanmukti by many, wrote the following in his ‘Forty Verses on Reality’:

    The world is real both to the non-knower and to the knower of the Real.
    He that lacks knowledge of the Real believes the Real to be coextensive with the world.
    To the knower, the Real shines as the formless One, the basic substance of the world,
    Great indeed is the difference between the knower of That and the non-knower.

    Just some thoughts to add to the pot.

    ~~

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Profile photo of Peter Peter.
  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
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    March 2, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    The air is full of souls. — PHILO JUDAEUS

    Each cell in the living body must sacrifice itself to the perfection of the whole;
    when it is otherwise, disease and death enforce the lesson. — Aquarian Axiom

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
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    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    Plato’s Allegory of the Cave without the Sun clipped out.

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
    ModeratorTN
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    Profile photo of ModeratorTNModeratorTN

    March 3, 2017 Theme for Contemplation: The Cave

    The universe is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters
    are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures. — GALILEO GALILEI

    • Profile photo of James
      James
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      Profile photo of JamesJames

      Would GALILEO’S Quote indicate our mind/mental body when freed of desires is also made of geometrical characters.

      • Profile photo of Gerry Kiffe
        Gerry Kiffe
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        Profile photo of Gerry KiffeGerry Kiffe

        I really don’t know but if the Mind were not distracted by the demands and attractions of the world the capacity to contemplate the endless meanings surrounding the basic geometerical forms would be vastly improved.

        • Profile photo of James
          James
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          Profile photo of JamesJames

          Perhaps learning the art of ‘Right Detachment’ would solve the demands and attractions of the world. However as we need to experience everything that can be got in this cycle before moving on, those still held by the attractions maynot have experienced everything needed yet.

  • Profile photo of ModeratorTN
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    The Cave of the Heart

  • Profile photo of James
    James
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    Profile photo of JamesJames

    Hi Peter, I just came across this. It explains what I indicated and more with the cave indicating prayer/meditation/contemplation with Soul. A lot of interesting occult symbolism included IU 1 601

    When Hiouen-Thsang desired to adore the shadow of Buddha, it was not to “professional magicians” that he resorted, but to the power of his own soul-invocation; the power of prayer, faith, and contemplation. All was dark and dreary near the cavern in which the miracle was alleged to take place sometimes. Hiouen-Thsang entered and began his devotions. He made 100 salutations, but neither saw nor heard anything. Then, thinking himself too sinful, he cried bitterly, and despaired. But as he was going to give up all hope, he perceived on the eastern wall a feeble light, but it disappeared. He renewed his prayers, full of hope this time, and again he saw the light, which flashed and disappeared again. After this he made a solemn vow: he would not leave the cave till he had the rapture to see at last the shadow of the “Venerable of the Age.” He had to wait longer after this, for only after 200 prayers was the dark cave suddenly “bathed in light, and the shadow of Buddha, of a brilliant white color, rose majestically on the wall, as when the clouds suddenly open, and, all at once, display the marvellous image of the ‘Mountain of Light.’ A dazzling splendor lighted up the features of the divine countenance.
    He adds that it is only when man prays with sincere faith, and if he has received from above a hidden impression, that he sees the shadow clearly,

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of James James.
  • Profile photo of Peter
    Peter
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    James – thanks for sharing that passage from Isis Unveiled. As you say, some obvious symbolism is contained therein. There’s no doubt the cave is a potent symbol used in many different ways to that of Plato. Sometimes it is associated with the feminine symbol of the womb. Another obvious association is with the tomb e.g., the pharaoh’s tomb and sacred chamber in the pyramid, the place of death and rebirth. The garden tomb of Jesus where he ‘resurrection’ could have been a small cave, which might also link with your original email and Christ’s birth/initiation. We also have the many references to the cave in the heart & so on. The are plenty of pointers in all of these to meditation and/or initiation, all of which supports the underlying theme of your initial post, of course.

    The passage you’ve just shared above reminded me of a passage quoted in Henri Corbin’s, ‘Man of Light in Iranian Sufism’ which I include below:

    “When I wished to bring to light the science of the mystery and modality of creation, I came upon a subterranean vault filled with darkness and winds. I saw nothing because of the darkness, nor could I keep it alight because of the violence of the winds. Lo and behold, a person then appeared before me in my sleep in a form of the greatest beauty. He said to me: “Take a lamp and place it under a glass to shield it from the winds: then it will give thee light in spite of the winds. Then go into the underground chamber; dig in its center and from there bring forth a certain God-made image, designed according to the rules of Art. As soon as you have drawn at this image, the winds will cease to blow through the underground chamber. Then dig in its four corners and you will bring to light the knowledge of the mysteries of creation, the causes of Nature, the origins and modalities of things.” At that I said: “Who then art thou?” He answered “I am thy Perfect Nature. If thou wishest to see me, call me by name.”

    (From The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism’ by Henri Corbin; an excerpt from ‘The Goal of the Sage’ by Al-Majriti.)

    ~~

  • Profile photo of James
    James
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    Profile photo of JamesJames

    Thanks Peter, this gives some more explanation, perhaps you would care to expand on it.
    I will just add for any who are unsure, that exoterically Air is mind/mental plane(Astrology) , but esoterically Fire is mind and Air Buddhi as seen by elements/planes which can be confusing for some.

    Expanding on and combining both my quotes, the pictures, sun etc. below ..
    The fire could represent the light of the soul, the intelligence behind the mind, hence its position, giving intuitive flashes on meditative symbols. As they are seen in front of man representing meditative focus in ajna/third eye area.( The Pituitary Body is the organ per se of the psychic plane. Pure psychic vision** Ordinary clairvoyance is not the use of this organ. CW12 698-9 {lower siddhis}.
    The cave entrance the antahkarana, a blue sky representing the blue of heaven, Sun, Atman or later the Spiritual Monad.
    Two points in Hiouen-Thsang’s quote give us an extra clue; “when the clouds suddenly open” and “ if he has received from above a hidden impression, that he sees the shadow clearly”; ‘From above’ being the key here and the difference between the Pituitary body and the Pineal Gland. (Pineal Gland gives Spiritual Clairvoyance).
    One would suggest the ‘Mountain of Light’ is picturing initiation, (enlightenment/3rd Degree, Capricornus mountain top) “once the sixth sense has awakened the seventh, the light which radiates from it illuminates the fields of infinitude” cw12 618. ..“he sees the shadow clearly” presumably he sees the full meaning of it all after this.
    The Pineal Gland itself, illuminated, corresponds with Divine Thought’

    The Womb/Uterus, opposite poles, and man being androgyne so far as his head is concerned, is included in CW section with above quotes and needs no mention here as it only concerns those on the Occult/Raja Yoga path. Although a study of the Ida and Pingala can give the meaning of “Walker of the Sky” frag. 1 VoS

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by Profile photo of James James.

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