by Ali Valdez
A zero is an empty circle of no value, a phantom number. It is believed that the zero was created back in ancient Arabia where pebbles were placed in rows in sand to measure and quantify. When pebbles were removed a circular indentation was left and thus the birth of a vacant number. What was in the void was the exact source of epiphany.
The archetype of the Fool is that essence of zero, that spoken truth hidden in the indentation of satire, self-deprecation and irony. Like busting out a deck of cards, the “hidden” wisdom of the Fool like its eponymous twins in the deck are often discarded, set aside because the focus of the player remains seated in the ego, the winning of the game. The archetype of Fool is often overlooked just a void, a groove in the sand of our consciousness because we never think the lessons of the Fool are for us.
The Fool undeveloped is a misguided danger, a Fool undeserving of compassion because it fuels the Ego like a blazing wildfire. It is analogous to the animal-skinned dwarf snapping the jawbone mockingly at the ankles of the mighty Samson in the book of Judges. Feeding the ego of the Philistine , poor Samson enslaved is goaded by the dwarf. That is until he calls upon God for mercy and justice. Then look out. Samson seizes the very mouthpiece of blind ignorance and destroys all of this captors and breaks here from ego-bound consciousness. The Fool’s mouthpiece has its moment of reckoning, used against itself.
Reflecting on the Fool can help develop our consciousness, awakening awareness within that we can be both Br’er Rabbit and Br’er Fox, guiling and then beguiled. We can be delusional and overly optimistic, no longer seeing the world as it properly is, yet finding magic in imagining it to be otherwise like Cervantes’ Don Quixote or Ignatius Reilly from Confederacy of Dunces. We become aware of the driving depths of sorrow, the effect of isolation and the very brokenness of man such as the sobbing, street-winding Pagliacci.
The Fool enlightened often serves as an antagonist to a man’s mask, his egoistic veil of maya e.g. the Fool to King Lear and brings humility, awakening through humor or sorrow sometimes a mixed cocktail of the two. Like the zero, the lessons of the Fool can be undervalued, their cards set aside from the meat of the deck. But in Central Europe, there are card games where the highest trump one can play is 22 (a power master number and mirror-reflection) and are represented by the oft discarded Fool cards.
The Fool helps us rise above the delusions if we don’t brush off their lessons, and can bring forth clarity because it can metaphorically serve as the trump to the ego.
There is a reason why fools always sat along side the king. They espoused wisdom and gentle counsel by not directly calling out what can only be recognized within. The wise king internalizes and heeds the Fool’s subtle sting like an antidote. The ego-bound King fails to get the point, projecting outwardly that the wiseguy rhetoric of the Fool belongs to the King’s subject. Token amusements or greater awakening? Which king of consciousness will you become? The 22 trump in your hand or merely a hollow circle from stolen pebbles in the sand.
This article was originally featured in the Five Tattvas Embodied Philosophy blog: http://www.fivetattvas.com/blog/2015/8/3/playing-the-fool