In my interpretation, Plato’s Allegory is the ultimate truth of the human condition. In all of its layers of philosophical insight and thought, the allegory serves as a kaleidoscope of varying colors of perception. Beneath the vast array of sights, sounds, sensations, tastes and touch, lies the heart of the truth: of how we perceive reality.
The men chained to their self imposed slavery experience a life of darkness and fright. The
flicker of life projects a world of silhouettes within the mind's eye. Figures of shadows dance across the wall, while the confines of the cave distort their true nature. The prisoners cannot conceive of anything beyond the blur of movements; they can only know what they have been shown to know. And hidden deep within the blackness of the shadows lie man’s one true fear—the fear of himself.
One man experiences the cave yet knows deep within his heart of hearts that he is witnessing an illusion. He questions if what he’s witnessing is even real and suddenly finds that the oppressive, weighted chains disappear into the vastness of nothing. As he rediscovers his freedom he moves towards the light, seeking to return to the home that lies within through the questioning of existence that surrounds him. He sees life through the eyes of boundless vision and inner
knowingness of world’s beyond. Enhanced awareness gifts him the ability to know a life of beauty and love. His experience is so utterly dazzling that he must tell his peers. Yet as he calls to them his voice is lost in the foreign language of the light and his body is mistaken for a monstrous figure of gloom.
Born from the depths of the darkness, man has risen to his higher faculties through the humble
honor of pain and suffering, and the simple asking of “why”. This simple question expands our
awareness to the discovery of the infinite universe that is our very nature. The allegory is a
metaphor for man’s search of his higher self— the self that awaits just a mere perception away.
The significance behind the construct of this tale is to recognize that there are ultimately two
different ways to experience reality— through the shadows of the mind or through the light of the soul.
In order to fully understand the allegory of the cave, we must recognize that we are the cave.
We are the prisoners, we are the chains, we are the umbra, we are the distortions, we are the void. But we are also the redemption, the liberty, the sighted and the wholesome. Split in two, we have the ability to choose which experience of reality we wish to participate in.
It’s quite easy to apply Plato’s Allegory to our modern and ancient worlds as it is the essence of our human existence. In current times, we are conditioned into the ignorant submission of mindlessness. In this context, consumerism is the perfect example of Plato’s Allegory. Corporations control our purchasing habits by using clever forms of psychological manipulation to keep us dependent on an overindulgent amount of material goods. We are so focused on obtaining these frivolous objects that we are taught to believe we so badly need, that we fail to realize we are sheep just going through the motions to support these massive infrastructures. In return these monstrous sized corporations become parasitic entities that perpetuate a self-destructive system in the name of profit and greed. Through our mindless and unconscious purchases, we feed the system that’s responsible for the massacre of natural resources, the exploitation of impoverished workers, ecological decay and a myriad of other atrocities. The key to remaining in such control is to make people believe that they are free when in actuality they are puppets to the elite. The illusions that we as a society see on the walls of the cave is a mere distortion to distract us from the events behind the scenes. As one wakes up to this understanding and begins to see more truth, he is condemned by the others for threatening their own beliefs. Those who choose to remain comfortably ignorant are not free thinkers and have given their power to those who abuse it.