Who's the Fool?
Day after day, alone on the hill,
The man with a foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still;
But nobody wants to know him,
They can see that he’s just a fool,
And he never gives an answer.
But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning ‘round.
I’ve always loved that song by The Beatles. It speaks to me of someone who knows a whole lot more than the crowds who stand in judgment.
As a society, we greatly underestimate the power of the Fool. Let’s explore what it really means, and why “Fool-dom” is one of the highest states you can attain….even greater than “Wis-dom”.
In Medieval Europe and the Renaissance era, the noble folk would have a jester or fool employed to entertain guests. The ultimate performer, the court jester would wear brightly coloured clothes, and an eccentric hat, and delight the crowds with their songs, music, storytelling, imitation and taunts.
But fool-dom is something very different to a performance. In fact, it’s an act of Being that carries us into the open mindedness of a child.
If you know anything about the history of the tarot cards, you’ll understand that they began with just the Major Arcana. These 22 cards form the core of the modern tarot deck, and use imagery that describes the steps that each Soul must travel in order to reach Enlightenment.
The Major Arcana has its roots in the legendary Book of Thoth, and represents mystical and highly advanced spiritual teachings.
Using the guise of imagery, the ordinary person would look upon these images and see an ordinary picture, nothing attention-worthy. In contrast, the esoteric student would know that these pictures hold the key to enormous wisdom and self-awareness, whose clues are hidden within the imagery, to be unlocked only once someone is well advanced on their spiritual journey.
But who is Thoth, the originator of the Book of Thoth, which forms the wisdom behind the tarot?
Thoth - Egyptian God of Wisdom
Thoth is the Egyptian God of Wisdom. But he wasn’t always a God. He was originally a Master Teacher, the “Thrice Great” to be precise, and he was said to have lived 300 years in the flesh. In that lifetime he was named Hermes Trismegistus.
Hermes led some of the awakened Souls and other followers from Atlantis before its fall, and took them to Egypt. After his death, Hermes continued to be revered as the Egyptian God Thoth.
The Power of "0"
The Fool card is the very first card in the Major Arcana. But rather than being number 1, it’s number zero in the deck. Why would this be?
Zero is drawn as a line with no end….in other words, as a circle or ellipse. It represents wholeness and infinite potential.
The card itself depicts a young man setting off on a journey, blissfully and naively unaware of what traps and joys lie ahead of him. It’s a card that is often interpreted as a new beginning, a new adventure.
Yet if we drill down into the real meaning of the Fool, we’ll understand why it’s so important that this be the first card in the Major Arcana.
How can we move forward spiritually with a mind that is full of opinions, which we often mistake as knowledge?
To enter the gates of true Wisdom, we need to shed all that we think we know. We need to find within a state of utter humility, and a willingness to learn. We need to be like a newborn child, with a mind filled with wonder and openness, instead of judgment and control.
For many years, I’ve been a student of A Course in Miracles. It teaches a “simple” path to miracles, and to being able to transcend the physical world. It’s this…
Step back from all that you think you know. Create a space of openness, and a willingness to see things differently. Then ask the Holy Spirit to come into that space, and show you the “correct” perception of your situation.
The Problem of Perception
The only thing that keeps us stuck in our problems is our own mindset. We think we know what the problem is, so we tackle that problem. Yet a miracle is able to manifest when we suddenly realise we were looking at the wrong problem. After all, if that problem was the real problem, it would already be solved.
It’s that ability to “unlearn” our knowledge that is the key to Fool-dom. So often in life, we identify ourselves with our physical body. Of course we do….it houses our Spirit, and it feels so real. But the issue with this perception is that our body doesn’t last. It ages, it perishes, it can be damaged and hurt. It can get sick.
That’s a very unstable platform on which to build our sense of Self – a platform that we could liken to a flimsy boat being tossed about on shark-infested waters. All it takes is for one leak to sprout, or one large wave to hit the bow, and those sharks are going to be fighting over which limbs they each choose for breakfast!
So with this underlying sense of fear and uncertainty borne out of our strong identification with our physical form, it’s no wonder that we want to equip ourselves with the one security we think we have – knowledge! Knowledge becomes our best friend in the war against our perishing mortal form. And I don’t just mean knowledge about our physical body and how to stay healthy. I mean knowledge about everything.
So like chipmunks, we stuff our cheeks full of knowledge and Wis-dom, and the more knowledge and Wis-dom we have, the safer we think we are, and the safer we feel. We become “know-it-alls”.
Fool-dom versus Wis-dom
This applies to every topic you can think of. We hoard opinions like they are forbidden Gold.
What we don’t realise is that this very knowledge keeps us away from the one thing that would bring us true Peace….the unlearning of all that we think we know. It is only through returning to that child-like state of innocence, of openness, of humility and of teach-ability that Spirit can truly shine its light on our heart and mind and show us the way through this dark tunnel and into the light.
But humility and not-knowingness and Fool-dom doesn’t carry the glamour that Wis-dom carries. What will your ego say to that? Will it crave the glory of knowing more and more? Or will the greater part of you, your Spirit, lead the charge back to your real self….and if it does, are you content to be the Fool and allow something far greater than your human self to be the Guiding Light in your life?
So beware the people who tell you they are great teachers, and that they know a lot. Instead, peak around those glamorous statues, to find the more dimly lit spaces where the Fool sits, happily minding his or her own business, awaiting those who can see past the humble exterior, and sense and recognise that real truth lies in this most obscure of places.