“No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth,” wrote Plato, referring to the words of Socrates during his trial and final fate — death. And although we all know Socrates as the father of philosophy or even wisdom, quoting his famous words: “All I know is that I know nothing,” very few people seem to know that this realization led to his death. This happened because most people — especially those with big egos, feel offended by the idea that we don’t know anything, thus they prefer simple lies to the truth. And yet Socrates tried to prove his point with Socratic Questioning.

The point of such questioning is not to convince people but to ask them questions, like: “What does it mean” or “Could you explain it to me” to show them that they don’t really understand a given issue.

But the “problem” was that he used the questioning on politicians or other “highly placed” individuals and was eventually accused of corrupting the youth — reducing the authority of these “important” individuals in the eyes of the youth by showing that they really know nothing.

And while the Wisdom of Socrates is obvious to other great thinkers, it wasn’t so tempting to the general public — and still isn’t. For example, a Legendary Chinese philosopher who lived even before Socrates, Lao Tzu, wrote a poem in his book Tao Te Ching:

“Not-knowing is true knowledge.
Presuming to know is a disease.
First realize that you are sick;
then you can move toward health.”

Lao Tzu — as it’s commonly thought, didn’t share Socrates' fate and died out an old age despite sharing similar wisdom. Also, Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, once said: “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” And we can find many more great minds who realized they knew nothing but weren’t put to death for it, like Socrates.

In this way, it’s clear that it’s not about the sole realization, but the purpose of it — it’s absolutely fine for an individual to attain true knowledge of non-knowing. But the problem starts when the individual wants to proactively share this wisdom, like Socrates with his Socratic questions. And the main problem with this state of affairs is what Plato tried to describe in his famous allegory of the cave.

Our whole idea of humanity is based on the systems of symbols we invented. And this whole system is generally a good thing — it lets us communicate and navigate our lives through this world. But also, all the names, forms, systems, concepts, or ideas that we formed let us avoid the terrifying idea — or direct truth, that actually we know nothing. And therefore we can’t really blame people who choose the stable ground of false knowing to sleep well at night instead of searching for the truth.

That’s the problem Plato tried to describe in allegory. The prisoners who spent their whole lives sitting and looking at shadows on the wall, consider it a reality. In this way, even if they ever get out of the cave and discover the actual reality, they will consider it unreal — just as people outside of the cave consider the shadows unreal. Therefore, they consider leaving the cave — the well-known system of symbols, a direct threat to life.

It’s a reasonable decision from their standpoint because they see that philosopher who freed himself and came back can’t even back to his previous spot because enlightenment has made him almost blind in a cave. And he can’t recognize the shadows on the wall as well as before. In the conventional sense, he gained nothing but lost all his valuable qualities — the realization of not knowing isn’t so practical.

That’s why, for Plato, only a philosopher can question this reality and free himself from the system of symbols. And then he can come back, but he can’t enlighten others with the truth, because people just don’t want to hear about this realization — it’s like telling people that everything they’ve done in life made absolutely no sense. And while this may be true, it’s not hard to imagine people’s reaction — they will deny the idea and defend themselves because they are attached to their personalities and other identifications.

I would add yogi, mystics, and spiritual people in general to the philosopher in Plato’s allegory as the allegory describe also a spiritual path in some way. Because spirituality is all about undoing the conditioning of mind and body — freeing oneself from the illusions of mind and body conditioning. And this undoing essentially means the death of our ego, personality, and all that — no wonder people are afraid.

And that’s the main problem with our current state of civilization, evolution, or whatever we want to call it — we are so involved in our little play of roleplaying personalities that we ignore that the whole idea might be wrong. Also, since we put immense effort into creating this playground we protect it. And therefore there is no way to change the state of things unless we do it collectively.

At the current stage, a philosopher, yogi, mystic or spiritual person not only threatens the current state of affairs but can also be easily discredited. Because from the conventional standpoint, the most important, valuable, and worth listening to people are the ones who are the most involved in the play of personalities — they play important social roles or have enormous fortunes and power. But a philosopher or yogi though usually wise and of a great culture is most likely financially broken and lost from the practical point of view, living contrary to the current state of affairs.

This way, listening to a philosopher or yogi, seems like a waste of time because the majority of the population isn’t interested in pursuing the truth. No, people have dreams or desires they want to fulfill. Therefore, especially for young people living in this late capitalism, the authority will rather be some super “successful” billionaire, a famous musician, or anyone who successfully fulfills desires within the current system and the idea of ​​humanity.

Therefore person trying to enlighten others by breaking the status quo will either be easily discredited or misunderstood and hated as a result — people tend to react aggressively to things they do not understand. And in the worst case, such a person can be considered crazy or even killed at the hands of overly involved people who feel they have to defend themselves.

Nevertheless, despite all the delusions, we seem to be at the best place in our history, and people are just interested in playing this whole game of personality and the idea of ​​duality — maybe that’s what consciousness wants at the moment. However, we are constantly developing more and more tools to spread the knowledge of non-knowing with less resistance and greater freedom. Therefore maybe we eventually break the most strongly enforced of all known taboos, as Alan Watts once said:

“The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.”
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