Tuesday, November 13, 2007

reflection on knowledge and truth

this comes from the book i love so much - the beautiful life by simon parke - it is a long, slow, dense read.  in this chapter, he argues that truth can never be acquired but is experienced as we are transformed from the inside, changing our attitudes and shedding our opinions...

"anyone can pass on knowledge

no one, however, can pass on understanding.

for unlike knowledge, understanding is not just a sequence of words.

understanding must come from our own work and experience.

it is the gradual disentanglement of twisted textures within us.

understanding is the slow creation of space for all things.

the house inside was a peeling wreck of dirt and squalor, but the householder was offered some beautiful gold curtains, made of the finest silk, and took them.  he put them up in the front room for all to see.  they were most striking curtains - and the word on the street, as everyone saw them in the big window, was that everything else inside had changed as well.  the householder had changed everything!

this was not so, however.  nothing else had changed.  the house was still damp, still dirty and still overrun with vermin.  the householder had not lifted a finger to sort things out and, with his marvellous new curtains, there seemed even less need than before to do so.  the gold curtains on public show were surely change enough.

but because the house didn't change, the curtains did.  the house did not get better, so the curtains got worse.  the damp wrinkled and rotted the fabric, the dust settled layer by layer, dimming the shine, whilst the vermin treated it as a brand-new toy, running up and down, snagging thread with their claws.  it was not long before the once-glorious curtains had been reduced to the level of the rest of the house.  and in time, the householder came to resent the gold curtains.  he had had such high hopes of them, but really they had made very little difference at all."



elizabeth said...


I was beginning to suspect this....(as explatives spew from my flesh, since, alas I can't claim truth in order to selfishly exploit it. But i can only hope to become grafted into that Tree)

billy said...

What a great parable Sherry, thanks for sharing it...it reminds me of when Jesus told the religious leaders that they were "whited sepulchres," and when he talked about how it is what is inside of a person (the heart) that makes them 'clean' or 'unclean,' and not what they eat or what appears to be the case on the outside. Taking care of things on the "inside" is definitely the hardest journey, but in the end it is the only one that can really bring lasting and help to imagine a better way of living.