The Kaleidoscope Allegory

The kaleidoscope allegory is a parable of the context of reality, truth, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

We don’t have direct access to reality. We look at it through a kaleidoscope – a confused, fragmented mind. Is there a single, objective reality? Good question. For the time being, the kaleidoscope is ‘our reality’. 

Some bits and pieces are clear, some blur or out of place, and the big picture looks like a cubist painting. Through experience and by learning from others, we acquire and improve reality bites (truth and knowledge) and fiddle them into our kaleidoscope. Truth and knowledge are relative. Every time our kaleidoscope revolves, some knowledge and truth becomes irrelevant and needs to be replaced. We all experience a couple of major shifts in our life: from a child to an adolescent, and to an adult. As adults, we can induce more shifts; e.g. from a religious person to an atheist or vice versa. 

Understanding is the knowledge how reality bites relate to each other. Understanding depends on the context of the big picture, which is defined by religion, philosophy, by life experience, or a mix of them. Understanding is relative too. 

Wisdom is knowledge of the kaleidoscope’s mechanism: the mirrors, the glassy pieces, the viewer, the light, and how the illusion of a subjective reality is produced. Wisdom always ‘works’. It’s objective, because it describes the nature of perception. 

What makes matters complicated is that our kaleidoscope has more than one lens. We perceive reality through our senses, we react emotionally to experiences, we think and reason, we dream, and can interpret the meaning of experiences – that’s intuition, philosophy, or religion.

When we enter the path of spiritual enlightenment, we need to add even more lenses. That can get complicated. For example, esoteric Christianity has five lenses: Hermetic Qabalah, Tarot, Astrology, Alchemy, and ‘spiritual psychology’. The reality bites of these lenses are not aligned, which can get confusing. For example, in Astrology Mercury signifies the intellect, in Tarot self-consciousness, and in Alchemy it’s spiritual consciousness. This is tough on our rational, analytic lens, which thrives on differentiation. Another example: the first ten Tarot cards are numbered 0 to 10, but the associated Hebrew letters have the values 1 to 11. 0=1?! It takes years of practice to turn this stumbling block into a source for inspiration.

If we want to realize reality, we need to align all lenses. Sounds tedious? It is and usually takes a few life times. Luckily, there are procedures in place that speed up the great work. Where to start? Everywhere! There is no linear procedure for the great work, because it’s too complex. Trust experience to guide you and when a teacher reveals himself, trust him too, even if he nauseates you with a lot of turning and shuffling.

 And this brings us back to the question whether there is a ‘real reality’. Is gnosis possible? Wise men and women said/say so. But they also say that it’s impossible to communicate objective reality. It can’t be explained in terms of the kaleidoscope. Yes, how does a perfect kaleidoscope look like? What happened to the mind of enlightened men and women who perceived reality? I heard that at one point, a flash of enlightenment fused all lenses. This super-lens is known as the stone of the wise.


Picture attribution: Geralt @ pixabay. com

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