Parable of the Blindfoldby Michael Sharp
Dedicated to priests and prophets of the world.
May the people of this earth find no more use for you.
Imagine for a moment a society, a civilization like none that you have ever seen before. Imagine a civilization of love, peace, and compassion where nobody goes hungry, nobody wants for anything, and everyone is equally loved and valued. Imagine a perfect society with few worries, no wants, no suffering, and a wise and shining population dancing out their days in peace, prosperity, and happiness. Imagine a garden paradise, an Eden, perfect in every way, populated by the smiling, shining children of Light and Love. Imagine it. Then, then imagine that one day, for some inexplicable reason, everybody starts to wear a blindfold. One moment, the people are dancing in the Light and Joy of Creation, and the next they are plunged into darkness.
As you might guess, being suddenly blindfolded in this fashion made life a lot more difficult for our shiny happy people. With the blindfold on, the people could not see a darn thing, and that made everything a lot harder to do. With a blindfold covering their eyes, they struggled around blind and they started to crash and to bump. They dropped stuff, they broke things, they smashed into each other, and it was not too long before the bumping and the crashing caused them pain and suffering. Because of being blind to the world, they were hurting each other, yelling at their kids, and becoming grumpy, bitter, selfish, angry little ogres who no longer had the time or the energy to care about anything or anybody other than themselves. It was bad and it got worse every day.
Now, you would think that as things continued to deteriorate these people would take off their blindfolds, but for some reason they didn’t. No matter how bad it got, the people left their blindfolds on. What’s worse, soon they simply forgot they were wearing them at all, and that was a sad, sad day because at that point, the people forgot that life could be anything other than the dark, confusing, violence they had come to know. As each new generation was born into darkness, these once shiny children of light and love were slowly transformed into the offspring of putrid and ugly dark. For these “Dwellers in the Dark”, the pain and the suffering grew.
Still, no matter how bad the pain and suffering became, and no matter how many generations passed, there were always stories. Elders would tell tales of a shiny, happy place that had once existed where the people danced and played. In this happy place, said the elders, there was no poverty, no war, and no disease. In this happy place, everybody smiled all the time. That is what the elders said, but most people thought these were just stories. Everybody knew, and everyone accepted, that life was a bitter pill. Still, even though most accepted, some did wonder if maybe the stories were true. They would wonder and they would ask, “Why was everything so dark and confusing?” and “Why are we always bumping into things?”
“Why is our whole world this way?”
“Did something happen to us?”
“Has it always been like this?”
These were big questions to be sure and some of these people, let us call them the existential depressives, thought about it. They eventually decided that there was no reason for the darkness and confusion. They simply accepted the status quo because, “that’s the way it has always been”. In their typically depressive manner these Dwellers droned on about how the universe was empty and dark, how it had always been this way, how it would always be this way, and how it all ended inevitability in death. As a result, the best we could do was accept the reality of the darkness and have as much fun as we could, while we could. Depressing, for sure, and sadly, despite the horrible and depressing nature of their answer, some of the other Dwellers believed them; and those that did settled in and lived out their days in a profound existential funk.
Thankfully, however, not all the Dwellers believed the existential depressives. Some Dwellers were simply not satisfied with existential funk. In fact, most people weren’t happy with the depressives at all and so most people kept on searching for truth and eventually, some of them, let us call them the priests, came up with different answers. Of course, the priests had blindfolds on just like the depressives so the answers they came up with were not particularly accurate, insightful, or useful either. In fact, much of what the priests came up with was downright ridiculous. For example, some priests said that the people were stumbling in darkness and confusion because they were evil and dirty and deserved it! Other priests said that the world was the way it was because the people had done something wrong and were being punished for their sins and transgressions. Still others said that people were fools and that this world was a school where darkness and confusion were meant to teach us something we could learn. Some of these priests even said that if we didn’t learn our lessons and obey, we’d be cast into a pit and horribly burned alive for all eternity, amen.
So yes, the priests said many silly things, but you can understand why. These priests did not remember a time before the Blindfold and these priests had experienced confusion, darkness, violence, and woe just like everyone else. Who could blame them for saying the world sucked? Who could fault them for pointing their fingers in blame? “Yes life was pain and everything was harder because of the darkness, but that must be our fault, thought the priests, because we’re so sinful and guilty and stupid”. It may not have been much of an explanation, but at least the priests provide some meaning, and so out of a desperate need, people believed. It might sound strange, but what other choice did they have? They could believe either that it was all random and meaningless like the existential depressives, or they could listen to the meaning that the priests provided. Sure, the priests insulted them and put them down, calling the evil, dirty, sinners, but frankly most people preferred the priests because at least, the priests offered more than an empty universe. And, this was great, at least for the priests, because not only did having the answers, even if the answers were mean, abusive, and wrong, make them feel special, but as they quickly learned, the Dwellers paid cash for answers. The priests offered meaning, the priest offered answers, and the people paid cash dollars for both.
And the cash gave the priests wealth.
And the wealth brought the priests power.
And wealth and the power made life good, for the priests!
And what was the harm in that? The priests may not know the Truth, but at least they were offering meaning, and wasn’t that something worthwhile? The people certainly thought so, at least for a while. Eventually however a few of the Dwellers, let us call them the prophets, grew unsatisfied. They looked at the priests in their castles, they saw the troubles in the world, they sensed a vague hypocrisy, and they said, “This can’t be right!” “If you deserve that”, said the prophets, “and we deserve this, then what’s it all for?” Of course, the priests didn’t have a good answer to that question. Since they were still wearing a blindfold, and since they were exploiting the darkness for their own ends, all the priests could do was justify and excuse. So, in response to the questions of the prophets, the priests said, “we are chosen” and “we are special” and “we are beautiful” and “we are wise”. But the prophets did not like those answers. They could see the priests were in darkness, just like everyone else, they could sense that the answers were not true, and so they continued to search. Their search was hard and it was dark and they struggled in blindness and confusion, but they kept searching, and eventually they stumbled into the Forest where they drank of the clear stream and they ate of the Burning Bush. And when they had drank from the stream and eaten from the Bush, their blindfolds fell off and the prophets could suddenly see!
Which, to be honest, was not as great as you might at first think. One minute the prophets were walking in total Darkness, and the next they saw the full Light. One minute they could see nothing at all, and the next the world was revealed! You may think this was great, but it was not an easy thing to deal with. To eyes accustomed only to Darkness, the Light was blinding. The Blindfold fell off and it was information overload. There was simply no reference point and worse, nobody to talk to. Out there in the forest wilderness with the blindfold suddenly off, the prophets were scared, alone, blinded, confused, and even in danger of going mad. The Light was so bright, the information so dense, and the previous Darkness so total, that their minds were pushed to the precipice. Thankfully however, their body reacted to save them. In order to preserve their sanity, their hands automatically reached out and snatched the blindfold back on, thereby returning themselves to the Darkness that they knew.
Or at least, that was what you would hope would happen. Unfortunately, it was not always that clean. With their minds and emotions weakened by their bumping around in the Dark, some faltered and fell. The Light was too bright, it blinded their eyes, and in confusion and fear, they panicked. Some who panicked were able to get the Blindfold back on, calm down, and find their way back from the forest, but others could not and they went insane. And that was very bad, because everybody else still wore the blindfold, and thus nobody could provide them good help, Existential depressives said, “That’s life”, priests recommended exorcism, psychiatrists provided pills, and friends and family said, “it’s OK” and “it’s all right” even when clearly it was not so. Afraid, confused, and totally alone, the mad were lost in the wilderness.
And of the rest of the prophets who did not go mad? Even though they successfully snatched the Blindfold back on, they were profoundly affected nonetheless. They had seen a reality unlike anything they dreamed before. They had gotten a glimpse and it was shocking and revelatory and more. It was so different than what they expected, and at such variance to what the priests and the depressives had taught, that they simply could not process and integrate. Even though they snatched the blindfold back on, they were scared and confused. It was too much for their damaged egos and out of fear and self-preservation the prophets left the forest and vowed to never, ever return.
Of course, refusal to go back into the wilderness for another glimpse did not stop the prophets from teaching and talking, and why would it? The prophets saw how the priests had been treated and they wanted some of that. So the prophets said to the Dwellers, “Follow us because we’ve seen the light”. They spoke about “presence”, they proclaimed the “power of now”, they said, “Live in the moment”, and they argued, “It is attraction!” And the people in the dark, the Dwellers who had not visited the forest, had not drank from the stream, had not eaten from the bush, and had not gotten a glimpse, were easily dazzled by the “wisdom” of their words; and so, they handed over some cash.
Who could blame them?
The existentials saw only an empty universe, and the priests called them weak, evil, and stupid, but the prophets had sure seen the light (or so they said)! The Dwellers could see that the prophets provided more and so they followed. Of course, this was great for the prophets who bought cars, mansions in California, fancy dinners, and many other expensive things with the cash that the Dwellers gave them. However, it was bad for the Dwellers who were once again saddled with darkness, deception, and half-truths. Of course, they listened for a while, but eventually the Dwellers grew unsatisfied with the thin wisdom of the prophets and so they asked the prophets about the forest, the water, the bush, and the blindfold; but the prophets refused to tell!
Who could blame them?
After all, the prophets knew that if the people went out into the forest, if they drank from the stream, if they ate from the bush, the blindfold would fall off, they would get a glimpse, and they would know the (partial) truth for themselves. If that happened, the Dwellers would see that the prophets were scared, confused, and even a little bit greedy. The prophets knew that if the people found out the truth they would stop handing out cash, and they may even get angry. Therefore, in order to protect their profits and their privilege, the prophets dissembled. They avoided direct answers and they averted their eyes. They even started “secret schools” where they could control what was being said. They built complicated mazes and they misled and misdirected the people.
“Don’t walk in the forest; don’t drink from the water; don’t eat from the bush”, they advised.
“It is bad for your health, it is bad for your children, and your memory and drive will sure die”.
“We’re God’s chosen people, silver seed of nature, your born natural leaders—instead, just sit in the circle and follow us blindly, and to forest you must never tread. For you are not holy and not nearly worthy, a body and soul that’s unwed. You’ve got so much karma, just brimming with sinning, redemption is your daily bread. So sit in the circle and listen intently, we’ll plant empty words in your head. To forest don’t travel, and bush never eat it, just accept your poor life lot instead”.
Yes, that’s what the prophets said. And of course, the Dwellers would grumble and complain about the half-truths and lies, complicated jiggery, and finger wagging blame, but what could they do? Their choices were limited. They only had the depressives, the priests, or the prophets to choose from and, of the three, the prophets had been closest of all because at least they had gotten a glimpse. Besides, when the Dwellers grumbled, the prophets would say, “Smile and be happy, for the grumpy person is far from the Truth, and you should be grateful for what you get”, and that shut them right up right away.
And, so it went. The priests told their lies, the prophets spun their webs, the people followed closely behind, and what was wrong with that? No real harm was being done after all, or at least so the priests and the prophets would say. In fact, there was a positive benefit, they told themselves. Their words were empty and their meaning was impotent, but it controlled the violence of the apes and relieved the depression all the same. And of course, the people accepted for a while, for what other choice did they have. Eventually however a few of the Dwellers, let us call them the visionaries, looked up at the priests and the prophets in their castles. They listened to their words, but they scratched their heads and asked, “Why?”
“We follow their directions, we listen to their advice, we meditate in a lotus, we force our smiles, we accept and are grateful, and we feign our bliss, but the darkness lingers on”.
“They sit in their castles”, say the visionaries, but all we do is struggle, suffer, and bump”.
“Something”, said the visionaries, “is just not right”.
And of course, they were right. There was something wrong with the answers that the prophets and the priests were providing. Their explanations were partial and confused, and the teachings dripped with greed, ego, and fear. To protect their privilege, they dissembled and deceived. The visionaries could sense this and they could not accept it for long, and so they walked into the forest, ate of the bush, drank of the stream. As a result, the blindfolds fell fast from their eyes. And just like that, and just like the prophets before them, they were scared and alone. Dazzled and confused by the light, they snatched the blindfolds back on. However, they had seen what had happened to the prophets and so instead of running away, they lingered in the forest. They took deep breaths to calm down, they controlled their fear, they worked through their confusion, and they processed their vision. When they had calmed themselves down, controlled their egos, processed their visions, and integrated the information, they drank and they ate once again. As a result, the blindfold fell off, only this second time they were not so confused or so scared, and so the blindfold stayed off a while longer. They breathed and they processed, they calmed and they integrated, and when they were ready, they drank of the water and ate of the bush, and the blindfold fell off a third time. Each time they did this there was a little less fear and a little less confusion and eventually, after much trial, tribulation, and disciplined daily practice, the fear and confusion fell fully away. At that point, their blindfold stayed off and full vision was restored. What a great day that was because no longer did the visionaries have to suffer the depressives, listen to the priests, or bow before the prophets; now, they simply knew. They knew it had nothing to do with “sin” or evolution. They knew it wasn’t about karma or preparation. They also knew it was a challenge to get more than a glimpse, but they knew it was possible. The visionaries knew! The truth was obvious and the solution plain to see. People were wearing blindfolds, but all they had to do to make everything better was find a way to control their fear and confusion long enough. If they could control their fear and confusion, then they would be able to adjust to the Light, see the reality, and integrate the information. If they could do that, the blindfolds could come off and the laughter and the dancing would return. It was that simple. So, resisting the temptations of ego (power, money, and sex), the visionaries turned to the Dwellers and they began to teach.
They said, “Hey, it’s not hard!”
They said, “Yo, don’t be afraid”.
They said, “Just breathe and relax”.
They said, “You can do it for sure!”
You have to admit, it was an exciting message; unfortunately, it didn’t go viral right away because people didn’t buy it at first. There was skepticism and doubt, and who could blame them? After all, the Dwellers had been listening to the priests and the prophets dissemble for so long that they thought nobody could ever offer full insight; but, the visionaries knew the Truth and they persisted. They kept repeating the same messages over and over and eventually a few of the Dwellers followed their advice. They controlled their fear, they processed the information, the blindfolds stayed off, and full vision eventually returned. And that gave the people real hope, and that hope started a buzz, and that buzz became poised to go viral, and that was great, except for the priests and the prophets who, frankly, got scared! You see, while blindfolds falling off would be good for the Dwellers who would no longer have to bump and grind, suffer and die, it was not so good for the priests and the prophets. If everybody’s blindfold suddenly fell off then not only would the priests and the prophets be out of a job (who would pay them for their pathetic little glimpse, after all), but the people would see that they’d lied, and they might get angry as a result. And if the people got angry, no amount of “living in the now” or “ignoring your pain body” would save the priest and the prophets from ignominious shame and rejection. And so, to avoid the inevitable fall from grace, the priests and the prophets took action. They sowed confusion, the stoked fear, they demonized the visionaries, and (if all else failed) they crucified them to a cross. Again and again over ten thousand years the visionaries were always put down. But that didn’t stop them, for with every new generation new visionaries were born. Each new generation grew up from childhood, went into the forest, removed the blindfold, looked at the priests, and challenged the prophets. And of course, the priests, the prophets, and all the other Powers That Be (PTB) crucified the visionaries; but, over the centuries, the visionaries advanced and the tide slowly turned until the day finally came when the visionaries were strong and the prophets and priests were weak. And though they sowed confusion, stoked fear, demonized, and crucified, the visionaries were too many, and too strong, and the message shone through and went viral; and on that day the people of Earth looked up and they saw. And to be totally honest, and perfectly clear, when that day finally came nobody cared about the lies and the deception, the demonization and the fear because the only thing that people wanted to do was heal the hurt, undo the damage, and return themselves to the dance.
Copyright 2006 Michael Sharp
All Rights Reserved