The Parable of The Rock

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THERE WAS ONCE AN ENORMOUS ROCK. It was smooth and round, and the only thing of its kind. As such, the local people loved and adored it. Streams of people came to visit it. Eventually they built homes around it, so that they could be close to it. Gradually a town formed around it. Everybody had the rock in common.

   The rock was so perfect and symmetrical that people said it could not possibly be natural. On the other hand, however, just as many people thought that it could not possibly be man-made for the same reasons.

   One day the rock decided to transform itself.

   A crack thus appeared in the rock.

   This caused great alarm. Some people panicked. Some no longer considered the rock to be beautiful. The crack grew larger and other cracks appeared. A larger number of people refused to admit there were any cracks. Pretending not to see them, they said, “Many of us are seeing things where there is nothing to see: the eyesight of the populous is failing, we need to distribute eyeglasses.”

   They even opened up shops that sold eyeglasses, the lenses of which were unclear so that cracks in the rock could not be discerned through them. This caused much argument and disagreement. Shouting matches were had at the rock.

   The community were polarised. The rock, as if in response, broke into two halves.

   One would think this an awkward event for the optometrists. But they claimed (and believed their claim since they too wore the glasses they sold) that only one of these now two rocks was the original rock. The other, they said, is a new one. “This new rock is a false one, a fake, an imitation.”

   Those who disagreed were not much better: “No,” said their leader, “this new piece is an improvement, the better of the two halves.”

   So, half the town preferred one piece and the other preferred the other piece. One side wore glasses[1] and the other did not.

   This situation did not last long, because both great halves started cracking too. The eyeglass wearers found it too difficult not to admit what they saw. But they did not call them cracks. Their leader said, “What people call cracks are actually signs of descent. These marks are indications that other false rocks will appear.”

   Strangely, the naked-eyed citizens had a similar opinion. Any new rocks would be faults, deteriorations, because they considered the second rock perfect.

   A minority rejected both sides: “If new rocks appear, then we must value them over the old, as new things are improvements. This is evolution.” Other minorities formed too, disagreeing with the evolution stance.

   And soon the two pieces crumbled into a pile of smaller rocks. At this point there was less certainty all around. Many remained attached to this or that piece. Many tried to convince others to favour the piece they preferred. Others grew detached and apathetic in their confusion. A growing view was that nothing more than deterioration was happening.

   Fights broke out between different gangs. Sometimes the rocks themselves were used to kill people, cracking skulls.

   When the little stones became a hill of pebbles, the town became a hive of confusion and diversity. This over sensitisation caused a profound numbness in the populous. People worked for pebbles, threw pebbles, swapped pebbles, stole pebbles, killed, fraternised, all in a somnambulistic routine. Fear and depression spread with regards to the future and the nature of things.

   Some people confessed doubt as to whether there ever was one large, beautiful rock. Former eyeglass wearers were afraid or ashamed to wear their glasses, unless in gangs. But that gang had shrunk significantly. Some donned glasses merely because their parents expected them to. Pebbles lay on the roads and were trodden underfoot.

   In time, the pebbles were reduced to sand. The townsfolk barely noticed this change. Attachments to past pebbles or rocks were more abstract and theoretical now. People had sand in their hair, pockets, and on their shoes. It dirtied their floors. No longer could anyone discern one speck from another.

   What’s more, if you poured the sand into a cup, it would take on the height and shape of the cup. If you poured it into a tray it took the shape of the tray. The sand was malleable to individual needs.

   When it rained, folks discovered that clay could be made. Some repaired their houses with the clay. Some built new houses from it. Pottery and crockery, sculptures and so on were made from the clay.

   As the years passed, there was nothing in the society that did not involve the clay in some way. And when hardened, it took on a golden glow, so that the town twinkled in the sunlight.

   Differences of opinion disappeared too, since the clay was viewed as a unity or singular substance. In the beginning it had been singular as a rock; in the end it was again singular – from a thing separate from the town, to a ‘stuff’ immanent and entwined within everything.

   The rock had completed its transformation.

   Despite everything that had happened, the townsfolk still held onto the belief that they acted out of will and reason; none but the wisest suspected their history was one of reaction and unconsciousness. It was even considered that the clay and the rock were lifeless material used by sentient people, and not the other way around.


[1] It should be noted that lenses by this time were clear, as the glasses were only worn symbolically now.