In his Allegory of the Cave Plato
likens material reality to shadows
cast on a cave wall by an unperceived
fire implying that most of us are
ignorant both of our true nature and
of the light. The allegory would hold
true equally had he described images
reflected in a pond. In fact, in an
earlier book he speaks of the relationship
of shadow and reflection to the “real” world.
Plato’s allegory suggests that
if those viewing the shadows were
to break their shackles and turn away
from what they have always perceived
as “real,” that they would
see the fire, become accustomed to
its brightness, discover the cave,
and eventually see beyond to the cave’s
mouth which leads to Ultimate Reality.
The shackles which hold us facing
the cave wall may be defined as Ego.
Men and women who succeed in breaking
free and glimpsing the path to ultimate
reality tend to be viewed by
their shackled brothers and sisters
as either inspired or insane. Either
we pity, kill, or incarcerate them;
or do the reverse and hold them in
such high esteem that we translate
their teachings into the language
of our shadow world, labeling these
teachings as Koran, Bible, Vedas,
Tao Te Ching. We think ourselves most
wise for having done this. But rarely
do we find the courage to turn around.
In Book 6 of the Republic Plato compared
Shadows and Reflections to the “real” world.
View these images as a reminder that
what we take to be “real” is
only an agreed upon interpretation
of an agreed upon reality.