The Allegory of Truth (1793). Nicolas de Courteille (1768-1835)
Truth and Parable
Once, two beautiful women names Truth and Parable lived together on the outskirts of town. Each thought herself the most attractive, so they quarreled and argued until they finally decided to have a contest: whoever attracted the most attention while walking through the village would be considered the most attractive.
On the appointed day, they walked to the edge of the village and Truth decided to go first. She was confident that everyone seeks Truth and wants to know Truth, so she began to walk through the village, smiling and greeting people as she went. To her chagrin, everyone began to move back inside their houses, glancing suspiciously over their shoulders.
Proverbs in the most accessible and capacious form express the inexhaustible depth and completeness of human experience, reveal all the layers and the variety of existing and possible vital meanings.
With the help of the close images, symbols and living metaphors, the higher spiritual senses are expressed, universal truths become tangible and visible in the most compressed form.
The roundabout and the metaphorical essence of parables create a detour for the penetration of vital universals into consciousness, and the brightness and accessibility of images facilitate and consolidate their understanding.
The essential dialogic nature of the parable leads to the creation of a multifaceted, holistic model of reality, synergetically resonating with the universal structures and laws of the universe.
In turn, the archetypes of the parable causes its mysteriousness and the semantic inexhaustibility, and the infinity of the process of comprehension generates freshness of perception and the continuous destruction of stereotypical, imposed models.
The universal language and the life wisdom of the parable
Proverbs reflect the objective, sometimes hidden and still unconscious laws of reality. Existence talks to humanity on its own through the universal and magical language of parables. At the same time, the objectivity of the parable does not lie in the accurate depiction of characters and events, but in the disclosure of key laws and universal senses of reality, and also in the identification of individual choices and ways of human actions, through which the most vital life problems are solved.
In the continuous process of constructive creation, presentation and enlightened understanding of the parable, the unity of the objective laws of the universe and the subjective meanings that are generated by the true creative self are asserted, which, in fact, are the bifurcated manifestations of unified ultimate universals.
At the same time, the parables condense the existential experience and worldly wisdom. It is rather not aimed at understanding the universal laws of the world and revealing its deep objective meanings, but on living human experience.
It teaches us how to deal with everyday problems and helps us be happy. The universal laws of the world create an extremely broad and transparent semantic context in which the true life goals and causes of problems are highlighted, and the strength and accuracy are given to everyday actions.
Parable as a creativity and method of
development of creativity
The true meaning of the parable can only be revealed by an internally free person, striving for knowledge, who in the flow of free creativity actively comprehends and decodes, imagines and contemplates its content.
The allegorical, paradoxical and ultimately capacious form of the parable fascinates, awakens intuition and creative thinking, and its plasticity and condensed spiritual energy give birth to the inner freedom, destroy stereotypes, expand and change the consciousness.
Instantaneous understanding of the depth and at the same time the inner proximity of the meaning of the parable, is capable of bringing a person into a state of creative enlightenment, in which a new level of understanding and vision of the world is achieved at once.
Parables as experience matrices and
new age realistic models
Parables exist in the cultural heritage of all peoples, presents itself as an expression of the spiritual experience of many lives and generations. At the actual level of human development, the content of certain areas of reality is revealed entirety and even multiplied and highlighted by nuances in similar parables of different cultures.
At the same time, nowadays a new and unexplored spheres of reality are rapidly emerging and already existing, and some layers of experience are still insufficiently understood and verbalized.
The creative essence of the parable is the mastering of new semantic spaces and spheres of existence by constructing their living figurative-semantic models.
These allegorical and condensed forms of description contain universal ciphers of the spirit and codes of true reality, and the process of its unraveling paves the way to the invisible and yet misunderstood Reality.
In this regard, it will be fruitful to correlate all the richness of existing parables, created by different cultures, with some universal matrices built on the basis of invariant structures and the laws of the construction and development of the world.
Table 1. Map of univerce primordial essences
Таблица 2. Matrix of phenomenal Worlds
Table 3. Generative matrix of universal mechanisms of Creativity
When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.
"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.
"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."
At these words Banzan became enlightened.
A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On that day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was the way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance.
Many years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter, so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant's debt if he could marry the daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.
The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble, she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But, if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble-strewn path in the merchant's garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.
The girl put her hand into the bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. "Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."
Sometimes it is necessary to think out of the box or, in this case, out of the bag.
Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.
While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?"
One of the monks replied: "From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind."
"Your head must feel very heavy," observed Hogen, "if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind."
How many things
Socrates believed that the wise person would instinctively lead a frugal life. He himself would not even wear shoes; yet he constantly fell under the spell of the marketplace and would go there often to look at all the wares on display.
When one of his friends asked why, Socrates said, "I love to go there and discover how many things I am perfectly happy without."
In the early days of the Meiji era there lived a well-known wrestler called O-nami, Great Waves.
O-nami was immensely strong and knew the art of wrestling. In his private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public he was so bashful that his own pupils threw him.
O-nami felt he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering teacher, was stopping in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see him and told him of his trouble.
"Great Waves is your name," the teacher advised, "so stay in this temple tonight. Imagine that you are those billows. You are no longer a wrestler who is afraid. You are those huge waves sweeping everything before them, swallowing all in their path. Do this and you will be the greatest wrestler in the land."
The teacher retired. O-nami sat in meditation trying to imagine himself as waves. He thought of many different things. Then gradually he turned more and more to the feeling of the waves. As the night advanced the waves became larger and larger. They swept away the flowers in their vases. Even the Buddha in the shrine was inundated. Before dawn the temple was nothing but the ebb and flow of an immense sea.
In the morning the teacher found O-nami meditating, a faint smile on his face. He patted the wrestler's shoulder. "Now nothing can disturb you," he said. "You are those waves. You will sweep everything before you."
The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.
When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words "The First Principle". The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a mastepiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.
When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which the workmen made the large carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticise his master's work.
"That is not good," he told Kosen after his first effort.
"How is this one?"
"Poor. Worse than before," pronounced the pupil.
Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.
Then when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: "Now this is my chance to escape his keen eye," and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction: "The First Principle."
"A masterpiece," pronounced the pupil.
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.
He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down.
A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.
As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!
A frog was hopping around a farmyard, when it decided to investigate the barn. Being somewhat careless, and maybe a little too curious, he ended up falling into a pail half-filled with fresh milk. As he swam about attempting to reach the top of the pail, he found that the sides of the pail were too high and steep to reach. He tried to stretch his back legs to push off the bottom of the pail but found it too deep. But this frog was determined not to give up, and he continued to struggle. He kicked and squirmed and kicked and squirmed, until at last, all his churning about in the milk had turned the milk into a big hunk of butter. The butter was now solid enough for him to climb onto and get out of the pail! "Never Give Up!"
An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town. The boy rode on the donkey and the old man walked. As they went along, they passed some people who remarked it was a shame the old man was walking and the boy was riding. The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.
Then, later, they passed some people who remarked, "What a shame, he makes that little boy walk." So they then decided they'd both walk!
Soon they passed some more people who thought they were stupid to walk when they had a decent donkey to ride. So, they both rode the donkey. Now they passed some people who shamed them by saying how awful to put such a load on a poor donkey.
The boy and man figured they were probably right, so they decided to carry the donkey. As they crossed the bridge, they lost their grip on the animal and he fell into the river and drowned.
The moral of the story? If you try to please everyone, you might as well... Kiss your “donkey" goodbye! And even this ending won’t please everyone.
"Representatives of all the various kinds of birds decided to find out which species was able to fly highest. They formed a council to judge, and experiments were started. One by one they dropped out, until only the Eagle was left. He continued his upward flight higher and higher until, when he was at his maximum, he exclaimed:'See, I have reached the highest point, leaving everyone else behind!'
At that moment a tiny Sparrow, which had been riding on his back, leapt off his wing and flew even higher, because he had conserved his strength.
The Council met to decide the winner. 'The Sparrow', they declared,'gets a prize for being the cleverest, but the recognition for attainment must still go to the Eagle. And in addition, he gets a prize for endurance, for he outdid all the other competitors with the Sparrow on his back!'"
Once Buddha was walking from town to town with his followers. This was in the initial days. They happened to pass a lake and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Get me some water from that lake.”
The disciple walked up to the lake and noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and he also saw a bullock cart crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple returned to tell Buddha “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”
After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him the water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.
Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be and the mud settled down on its own and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen effortlessly.”
Buddha says having ‘peace of mind is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment.