Author Topic: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:  (Read 1545 times)

Subramanian.R

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Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« on: January 25, 2013, 04:21:48 PM »
(From Mountain Path,  Oct.- Dec. 2009)

                                                    - S. Mohan.

Know that the Atman as the Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot; know that the intellect as the charioteer and the mind
again at the reins.   (Katha Upanishad, I.3.3.)

The spiritual literature of the world is filled with analogies, metaphors, parables and symbols. All these help to illustrate a particular
concept or to throw light on a specific process. They assist understanding by drawing attention to the relationships and parallels.

One of the classic parables in ancient Greek philosophy is 'The Parable of the Cave' in Plato's 'Republic' at the beginning of the Book
VII. (427-347 BCE). came from a distinguished family of Athens.  His writings, treasured in the Western World, are the very fine recording of Greek Philosophy available in complete form.   Earlier writings do exist but have survived only as fragments. Plato's writings
are mainly in form of discourses between a teacher and his associates. Almost every dialogue features Plato's own teacher Socrates (469-399 BCE).  Plato depicts Socrates as a man of simple tastes, a cheerful disposition and with great desire to clarify how to live life meaningfully. Many young men of Athens, like Plato, flocked to learn from Socrates. The politicians in the Athenian democracy became
apprehensive  about  the contents of these discussions as well as the considerable influence that Socrates exerted on the young man of the city. He was therefore falsely accused of corrupting their minds and introducing new religious concepts and put to death.

continued......

Arunachala Siva.         

eranilkumarsinha

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 06:49:56 PM »
Dear Sri Subramanian Sir,

Sri Plato’s famous ‘Theory of Ideas’ occupies the middle part of the Republic, from later part of Book 5 to the end of Book 7. Questions of pure philosophy, as opposed to politics, are dealt with in this part of the Republic. However, these questions are introduced by a somewhat queer statement which is as follows:   

“Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from evils—no, nor the human race, as I believe—and then only will our state have a possibility of life and behold the light of the day. “

Sri Plato defines philosophy as a kind of a ‘vision of truth’. It is not purely intellectual; it is not merely wisdom, but love of wisdom.

It is well known that Sri Plato’s Utopia, as described in Republic, was implemented in the Greek ‘City State of Sparta’ which had a philosopher king. Though It is said to have declined because of inherent contradictions, it also achieved great feats which are regarded ideal for the body-politic, or State as an organised group of citizens. The State of Sparta, as I remember to have read, was able to achieve great political, military, social, cultural and academic, etc. feats with a philosopher king as its ruler. For instance, the State, with Sri Plato’s Utopia in operation, was able to repulse a vast invading army of several hundred thousand soldiers with a few hundred soldiers only.   

Thanks very much, sir.
 Pranam,
  Anil

Subramanian.R

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2013, 01:13:59 PM »

continues.....

Socrates did not leave any writings and it was left to Plato to record the various dialogues that took place. The first part of Plato's
writings focuses on the philosophical legacy of Socrates and include a description of his trial and his advice to his students and friends
before he died.

Plato is said to have left Athens after Socrates's death and traveled extensively in Asia Minor and Egypt. There is a speculation that
during this period of ten years he might have come in contact with Indian religious philosophers. When he returned to Athens he
established a place of learning called the Academy. The writings of this later period continue to figure Socrates but are actually expositions
of Plato's own philosophy.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 01:30:36 PM »
CONTINUES.....

When he returned to Athens he established a place of learning called the Academy. The writings of this later period continue
to figure Socrates but are actually he expositions of Plato's own philosophy. THE REPUBLIC comprising ten books is the most
comprehensive of his later writings. It is a description of an ideal state. "The Parable of Cave" --- appears at the beginning of
Book VII which outlines the scheme of education for what Plato calls the "Guardians" who are to be 'Philosopher - Statesman',
at the top tier of governance.

This Parable describes the very first qualification of these philosopher statesman. It describes the group of prisoners in a cave,
manacled and bound, so that they cannot even turn their heads. They are forced to look at a wall in front of them. Behind them
is a raging fie,which lights up the wall. In front of the fire but behind the prisoners, there is a ramp on which people walk to and fro.
Their shadows are thrown on the wall, moving, gesticulating and also talking, as their voices, echo from the wall. The prisoners gazing
this shadow play on the cave wall regard what they see as reality.

The parable describes how one of the prisoners escapes, and, unshackled and free, discovers a way out of the cave. He
emerges into the outside world but is dazzled by the light. Orienting his eyes slowly, he first gazes at the sun's reflection in
water, and then learns how to look back at the moon and the stars in the cool light of night. Finally, he is able to look at the sun
directly. He realizes that this world, not the cave wall, is the true reality.  He goes back into the Cave to try to share his insight
wit the other prisoners. But they are unable to accept the views of the returned prisoner.

continues....

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2013, 04:56:54 PM »
continues.....

This parable describes the two states of humanity, the constrained condition of illusion within the cave, and the freedom and
enlightenment outside in the sunlight. As the treatise proceeds to discuss the education of the philosopher-statesman, Plato
implies that the 'Guradians' of his Republic must be persons who have experienced enlightenment. In this parable, the sun is
the source of enlightenment. The cave represents the mundane world, shrouded in the darkness of ignorance, where moving
shadows are mistaken for reality/ Gradually learning, how to view the moon, the escaped prisoner is finally able to experience
the dazzling brilliance of the sun.

From the Indian and Vedantic points of view, this parable seems to symbolize Self Realization. In this context, it is interesting to
consider how Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi portrays His state as recorded by Sri Natananda in the text called 'Spiritual Instruction'
or Upadesa Manjari. Sri Bhagavan compares the human system to a cinema projector, using a paradigmatic twentieth century innovation as His example. He likens the lamp, the source of illumination, to the Self or Atman. The lens which is close to the lamp and helps focus
the light is the pure sattvic mind or intellect. The film is the 'stream of subtle thoughts', colored and superimposed with latent tendencies, the imprints and the memories of past experiences, a multitude of experiences from many lives. The screen is the world outside on which the images fall, processed by the lens-intellect and the 'film-mind' and lit up by the luminosity of the lamp-Self.
The various pictures projected are the objects perceived in the world with their names and forms. The mechanism and the proecess
of projection are what Sri Bhagavan calls the 'divine law'.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 01:18:04 PM »

continues.....

Bhagavan explicitly states, as recorded by Sri Natanananda,  that just as the lamp illumines the lens, while remaining unaffected, the
Self illumines the human system, the world, the world of names and forms that are dependent on the latent tendencies or vasanas,
while the Self Itself remains unaffected and unchanging. This simile powerfully describes the nature of Unchanging. This simile powerfully
describes the Unchanging Sun or Aruna - Achala. Plato does not explain his parable, but Sri Bhagavan explains very clearly why He chooses this example to illustrate the nature of truth.  These illustrations of the nature of the Self or Atman, remind us of the analogy in the Katha Upanishad, quoted at the beginning of this article. In this classic metaphor the Self is depicted as the Lord of the chariot. He owns, guides and energizes his charioteer, the Intellect, who, through the reins of the Mind, controls and the sense horses. The chariot itself is the human body. This metaphor comes from an exposition on the nature of Brahman and the concept of Self Realization, as expounded by Yamaraja, the Lord of Death, to a young man called Nachiketa.

The major part of the Katha Upanishad takes the form of a dialogue between Nachiketa and Yamaraja. Nachiketa's father performs an important sacrifice, and desiring the boon of heaven, proceeds to give away gifts to the officiating priests. Nachiketa, a sensitive young
man, is perturbed by the poor quality of the offerings made by his father, and fearing that the father will therefore, not be successful
in achieving his objective, pesters his father as to how he will dispose of him. In exasperation, his father retorts: I will give thee to death.

continued........                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: Self Realization and the Parables of Plato and Sri Bhagavan:
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 01:35:44 PM »
continues......

Reading this Upanishad, many questions arise: Who was Nachiketa? Was he a real person? Did some incident in his life
provoke such serious  questions in his young mind? Is the Upanishad (which appears in the Katha-Saktha Brahmana of the
Krishna Yajur Veda, as also the Taittiriya Brahmana), the real life experience of a sage, who, in his youth attained Self Realization, at a moment when he was close to death? Was this a death experience? Such questions lead one, startlingly, to Bhagavan Sri
Ramana Maharshi Himself. According to Sri B.V. Narasimha Swami, in the second chapter of his book Self Realization, Sri Bhagavan
experienced the 'death experience' and emerged from it, as a self realized soul. His attitude to life changed completely and He sought
solitude and proximity to Arunachala. He was blessed with the continuous experience of Brahman and for the rest of His life, He shared
His experiences and offered His guidance to the countless devotees who sought Him out.

Sri Bhagavan's account of His death experience and His teachings on self inquiry are fit to be considered as a twentieth century
Upanishad. Blessed are those who knew Him and blessed are those who seek Him even today. For, 'the Knower of Brahman verily
becomes Brahman' and like His father Arunachala, Sri Bhagavan Himself is a permanent source of illumination to the entire world.

concluded.


Arunachala Siva.