From this stage onwards The Fool keeps advancing on three different levels: On the first level, he reaches The Hierophant, on the second level he reaches the Wheel of Fortune and on the third level he reaches The Devil.
When The Fool reached The Emperor card, he becomes part of a group and accepts the rules which define that group. He begins to apply those rules and begins his inner work following a set goal. Now he meets the guide/instructor himself, who teaches him the most important principles which we previously discussed, but so far The Fool knew them only in a very superficial or theoretical fashion. Now when The Fool descends towards the cave, he begins experiencing and verifying everything that he learned.
The Hierophant teaches The Fool about the three forces: The active, the denying and the neutralizing. At the same time, The Fool gets a lesson about three lines of work. We discussed the three forces when we discussed The Magician, The High Priestess, and The Empress cards. And we mentioned the three lines of work in the prison parable. Now I will expand some more on the three lines of work.
The Hierophant’s words:
“First line of work: Man’s real work begins with studying and observing the self! That requires knowledge and method! When people try to study without knowledge or method, they quickly form wrong ideas about themselves. Therefore, we need to get rid of those false ideas and at the same time find a proper method to study and see ourselves! After we found the knowledge and the method we must make an effort to see ourselves; that’s our private and personal work. It can be done anywhere and anytime, or rather, it must be done everywhere and all the time. Only thus we can see and learn all of our aspects. In order to work in the first line, we do not need a group because it’s an inner work, but as we will learn from the “law of seven”, we will reach a gap that will prevent our progress in the first line of work. In other words, we cannot continue working on the first line of work without a proper bridge, and here comes into play the second line of work.”
“Second line of work: work with another person or a group of people, as we discussed in the parable of the prison, and the escape from it, we need the help of our teammates. That help can come in various and interesting forms: even a conversation between two students can clarify many things that are unclear. Taking common goals and self-observations can provide a broader and more understood spectrum about ourselves, a vision of ourselves by seeing and understanding the conduct of another student; some things are so deep and ingrained within us, that there is no chance that we will ever see them within ourselves. By seeing those traits in others, we get the mirror effect which allows us to see ourselves. When another student sees something about me and thinks I am incapable of seeing myself, he can come to my aid and give me directions.
And there are many other ways to work with another person or group. What’s interesting and important is that the second line of work can contain within itself the first line of work, provided that the work is being done correctly. Without the second line, the first line is stuck and cannot keep advancing anywhere. The second line of work is a bridge to the first line!”
“Third line of work: work towards a greater goal, where we give up our will for the goal of the instructor or the school. In this line of work we find ourselves in different situations which we ourselves could not create and wouldn’t want to create. These situations help us see different sides within us, which we would have never been exposed to in normal life. Those situations create bridges which allow the work to carry on. The third line of work can contain within it the second and the first lines, as it bridges to the second line which in turn bridges to the first. In other words, whoever works properly in the third line of work, simultaneously works on the first two lines.”
The Wheel of Fortune
In “The Hermit” card which precedes the “Wheel of Fortune” card, The Fool discovers his conscience. By using the new rules and his new work with a goal (“The Emperor” card), The Fool manages to recognize his conscience which whispers in his ear and instructs him to descend into the cave. If The Fool manages to overcome all the difficulties which prevent him from descending into the cave, he learns the most important lessons about himself. This cave or underworld symbolize The Fool’s deep self-observation. In that descent/self-observation, The Fool discovers his real situation. He learns that he controls nothing and isn’t in charge of anything. He discovers that everything happens to him and that it’s the external and internal stimuli are in charge of the changes and everything else that happens to him. In other words, he is completely ruled by chance, and when everything depends on chance and stimuli, The Fools end up worship “luck” as his “god.”
The Fool learns how the law of three and the law of seven manifest within him. He learns where the gaps that hinder his progress are made, and how they can be bridged. He learns about the trinity that exists within him, which consists of the ego, the false ego, and his essence, and thus a triangle is created, Its vertices point toward the essence, the ego, and the false ego. One moment the vertex that points towards the essence is at the top, another moment it’s the one that points to the ego and next moment it’s the one that points to the false ego. The external and internal stimuli are responsible for the spinning of the triangle. In other words, The Fool’s state of mind depends entirely on chance and changes with every passing moment. Everything depends on what affects The Fool at that moment.
A brief explanation of the false ego, the essence and the ego:
There are certain things which are born with us, the basis of man’s physical and mental make-up. Physical characteristics, tendencies, preferences, etc. They belong to an essence. For example, a person born with brown eyes, with a talent for painting, or with a specific feature. If the person develops correctly and balanced, the essence grows and develops parallel to the ego. In the case of an unbalanced development, the essence ceased to develop at a very young age.
The false ego:
An ego that developed in an improper and unbalanced way. That includes all the perceptions which a man acquires throughout his life by imitation: opinions, conceptions, etc. The false ego contains within itself contradictory characteristics that cannot coexist at the same time. Those characteristics cannot manifest themselves at the same time. Every time we look at the false ego, we can discover different opposing sides. Sometimes we see more of it, and sometimes we will see some particular characteristics. The false ego is not interested in spiritual development and considers it deadly. It only cares about growing at the expense of the essence. This is the reason why in most cases the contempts and affections of the false ego will be vastly different from those of the essence.
Ego, or real ego:
An ego which develops in a balanced way, which supports the development of the essence. At some point, it must make room for the “real me (I)” and cease to exist.
So far The Fool imagined he has the will and the power to do, he imagines himself free and conscious! As long as he keeps deluding himself that he has all of these abilities, he is not able to develop! The most significant lie that The Fool told himself is “I’m conscious.” In reality, not only is he not conscious, he does not even understand the meaning of the word. He heard various explanations about how he’s not really free and conscious, and he may have believed some of them, but deep down in his heart he still considered himself a free man.
Now by dividing attention and self-remembrance (“Temperance” card), he is capable of real and honest self-observation; in other words, he can descend to the underworld and see his real situation. What The Fool sees in the underworld we can learn from “The Devil” card, which faithfully describes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.
The Allegory of the Cave deals with the state of man and his options for self-development. The allegory may be interpreted in various ways, but what interests us, as the author mentioned, is the attitude toward life on earth and soul’s way upward, and in particular, the difficulties it faces on its way.
The first part of the Allegory of the Cave: humanity is described in a dismal state; people lived underground as prisoners with their legs and necks bound, unable to move or turn their heads. The only light in the cave comes from a burning fire, which burns on a higher ground behind the prisoners.
If we take a look at The Devil card, we will see a considerable similarity between what is described in the allegory and what is drawn on the card. “The Devil” card shows us a man and a woman bound in chains, behind them sits a character (“The Devil”) with a torch, that single source of light in the cave. Between the fire and the prisoners, there is a wall, along which people pass, carrying various items and figurines which are seen above the wall. Shades of those items and figurines fall on the wall that stands before the prisoners. The people carrying the figurines occasionally make a sound.
The prisoners, who for their entire lives only seen those shades that are cast on the wall in front of them, along with the sounds made by the figurine carriers, are absolutely certain that the sounds are the real thing, and the voices are voices made by the shadows. The only source of light that illuminates the figures, which case their shades along with the sounds made by the figurine carriers, are the only stimuli experienced by the prisoners in their entire lives. While they are chained and cannot move or turn their heads, and see the truth, they are certain that the shadows and the sounds are real.
Such existence, as stated in the Allegory of the Cave, is akin to humanity’s real existence. Life on earth is akin to the lives of prisoners in the cave. The weak fire that illuminates the cave is analogous to our sun. Life, as we perceive through the five senses, consists of mere shades and echoes.
The Fool himself is also in the cave, chained without having any of the freedom he imagined. Because he’s lying to himself and imagines himself to be free, he does not try to break free. Why should he? He is certain that he is free! He is not aware that he’s chained in a cave and does not know that he can break free and experience life outside the cave.
Everything is now clearly seen by The Fool…