Parable & Symbol: The Vessels of Truth

Revelation which is by definition the echo of the Absolute and the infinite truth in the valley of the relative and finite existence is a revelation in names and forms. However, truth as transcendental content which is absolute and infinite is always beyond all names and forms. Insofar as it is absolute it is beyond all names, for name belongs in language which is marked with relativity. Insofar as it is infinite it is beyond all forms, for form belongs in space which is marked with finitude. Thus, names and forms, essentially incapable of fully containing the divine principle, can only convey it in an indirect and suggestive fashion. Therefore, language can reflect the principle only through parables, and form can reflect it only through symbols.

The frequent use of parables and symbols in all revealed traditions is not due to ambiguity on the part of truth but due to the relative and finite nature of the receiver. The best example that can clarify the sense of this relationship between man and truth is the relation between color and a blind man. If we are to convey to a blind what color is we can never do so by way of logical demonstration; the existence of color cannot be proven to a blind, for he can’t even grasp the premises of such proofs as he does not even know what it is like to see. Color exists only in seeing; and where there is a man for whom seeing doesn’t exist to begin with, the existence of color cannot be proven at all. It is a matter of fact that the blind can grasp color only after he has eyes to see. This is an instance in which lack of proof for the existence of something doesn’t entail the lack of existence but rather the lack of the proper faculty with which the apprehension of the object is made possible.

The only way for a seer of color to help a blind gain an understanding of color, however indirect, is to give him the suggestion that “color to seeing is like the feeling of texture to touching.” Since the blind has no access to the reality of sight he can grasp an object of sight only by way of analogy to objects of touch or other faculties accessible to him. This of course works only if the blind is interested in knowing color and what it’s like to see.

Now it would be very odd and even impossible to find certain blinds who are obsessed with seeing and knowing colors, for a person can not be obsessed with something never known to him, whether in idea or as object itself. It doesn’t make sense for a blind to be obsessed with seeing color while he doesn’t even know what it’s like to see. Thus, if we find such blinds we must conclude that they somehow have a knowledge of color and what it’s like to see, namely they have seen color before. I don’t know any such blinds, but I know of many who want to see the truth! In this case we can’t help but conclude that man somehow is already in possession of the knowledge of truth, or else its idea would never arise to begin with. If there are men and women who leave everything behind to know the truth we can’t help but conclude that man’s struggle to see is indeed a struggle to remember.

If we are after the truth we must already know what it’s like to know the truth, and hence our seeing of truth is in essence a remembering of truth.

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