"When bad men combine,
    the good must associate;
    else they will fall, one by one."

Edmund Burke


The Allegory of the Cave


      The only way some Americans might see the decadent, tyrannical nature of our present culture is if we required all those who support the demonic cabal and its Obama con-men to wear Nazi uniforms and those who oppose this fascistic, militaristic dictatorship to wear civilian clothing.

      Decadence blinds and enervates those Americans who deliberately choose to remain ignorant of what's going on and submerge themselves in mindless self-indulgence and indifference. We can best understand how people live and operate in a false reality through a detailed exploration of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.


The Allegory of the Cave

Behold! human beings living in an underground cave,  which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all
along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

- I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

- You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

- True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

- Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

- Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

- No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

- That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

- Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

- That is true.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

- Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

- Certainly.

Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

- Certainly.

He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

- Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

- Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner . . .

And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous?

Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

 

Exploration

  As Plato himself explains, this allegory is meant to depict our actual terrestrial existence.

  The persons depicted are called "prisoners" because they're constrained by cultural chains that prohibit their seeing true reality or being in genuine communication with their fellow "prisoners." They can't expand their vision of "reality" because their life-long cultural chains prevent them from looking beyond set limits. The "prisoners" identify the shadows cast on the wall in front of them as reality.

  Actually, their "reality" is being contrived by "manipulators of reality," propagandists, mind-control experts who show them "shadows" (unreal images and sounds), thereby making them believe that the shadows are reality. Because they're unaware of their manipulators, the "prisoners" allow any of these mind-twisters to control them.

  The "prisoners" are powerless to communicate in a genuine way with the other "prisoners," but if they did they would merely confirm each others' belief that the "shadows" are reality.

  If one of the "prisoners" is "disabused" of his delusions, he would at first find this a very "painful" experience.

  If the "prisoner" was shown a higher, "brighter" aspect of reality, he would still think that the "shadows" were more real than actual reality.

  The "prisoner" would not move toward the "light" of truth on his own volition, because he would have been conditioned to believe that "reality" is something others must reveal to him, not himself.

  Being shown true reality would feel painful and irritating to him. The "light" of truth would dazzle him and he would feel bereft that none of his old realities are any longer available.

  As more of true reality is revealed to him, things similar to the "shadows" of his old reality will first be most apparent. Less "radiant" aspects of genuine reality will be most easily discerned by him.

  Only gradually will the true light of reality--the "sun"--become visible to him. He will see that the "sun" is the cause of all discernment, inside and outside the cave.

  When he realizes the truth about reality, he will feel pity for those still in the cave of ignorance and delusion.

  He would see through the false values, honors, glories, and prestige of the world of the cave. He would recognize that he is unquestionably better off with true knowledge and values than the illusions of wealth and fame in the cave world of delusion.

  The man freed of cave illusions would rather be a poor servant of a poor master in the world of Truth than a high potentate in the world of ignorance and deception.

  If the freed man returned to the cave, he would no longer be able to compete with the "shadow people" in comprehending their shadow images. They would say of him that his ascent to what he calls Truth has ruined his discernment; that the fantasy of trying to ascend to what is called Truth is dangerous, to be avoided at all cost.

  If a freed person tried to help a "shadow person," the other "shadow people" would try to capture and murder him.

      This allegorical explanation of human life makes it clear why most people live in a world of illusion--and find it more comfortable to remain in that fantasy realm. They find it painful or unpleasant to be disabused of their delusions and find forthright exposition of Truth too much for them. "Shadow people" are incapable of communicating with others because they only know how to speak the language of pretense, not Truth.

      Overcoming our personal and cultural decadence will require that we ascend out of our "cave world" and rediscover authentic ideas, values, and actions, restoring real elements to their rightful place in our culture. Sages within the Perennial Tradition 1 such as Hermes, the Hebrew Wisdom savants, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Jesus, have all taught that the true purpose of human life is to progressively identify with our Higher Self, realizing and manifesting our oneness with the Divine.

      A false view of human existence has been and continues to be deliberately and systematically substituted for the real meaning and purpose of life. Human life has been defined as mere physical existence and the true purpose of life has been said to be nothing more than ego-satisfaction. What most people take for reality is nothing more than a fantasy created by imposters and confidence men. It would be a wonder if most people were not taken in by these "shadow" illusions, blithely presuming that "all's well with the world," when in fact America has devolved into a fascistic, militaristic, police state.



      Higher discernment provides clear awareness of the inevitable forward, upward thrust of positive evolutionary forces within human history. Humankind moves in a wave-like course as Perennialist seers interject higher ideals (top of wave) which remain potent even when humankind experiences periods of retrogression (bottom of the wave). In truth, human civilization is the evolutionary assimilation of Perennialist wisdom in all eras of human history and in all dimensions of human life. The expansion of human consciousness moves in an ebb and flow progression upward.

      Eras experiencing a retrogressive phase--such as our present age--sometimes wonder when the next period of advancement will occur. What must transpire before progression can continue is that a dynamic grouping must form around a teaching divulging an adaptation of the Perennial Tradition for that age. Overcoming cultural decadence demands that we rediscover and revivify lost meanings, values, and institutions that appear at the apex of evolution's wave. Only by reacquiring and reinvigorating transcendent riches of wisdom and morality do we start the long climb back up to the next plateau in humankind's march through history.



     Overall, the direction of human evolution has been an upward helical path with each new cycle achieving a higher advance. It is important to realize that even when the fires of culture burn low--almost to ashes--the Perennial Wisdom is still being preserved by wise sages. These savants continue to teach selected initiates--often in ways invisible to the savage culture. As these initiates achieve the prerequisite understanding and skill required, the hidden wisdom is made available to them.

"Our own generation enjoys the legacy bequeathed to it by that which preceded it. We frequently know more, not because we have moved ahead by our own natural ability, but because we are supported by the menial strength of others, and possess riches that we have inherited from our forefathers. Bernard of Clairvaux used to compare us to punt dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants. He pointed out that we see more and farther than our predecessors, not because we have keener vision or greater height, but because we are lifted up and borne aloft on their gigantic stature."

John of Salisbury, Metalogicon

"In Chartres Cathedral . . . there are stained glass windows depicting Saint Matthew seated on Isaiah's shoulders, Saint John on Ezekiels's, Saint Mark on Daniel's, and Saint Luke on Jeremiah's. There are similar depictions elsewhere. The pygmy is not necessarily inferior to the giant."

Robert K. Merton, On the Shoulders of Giants

      As we ascend out of the cave world, we develop a mature psyche with the capacity to distinguish truth from mere fantasy and appearance, propaganda from truth, to recognize stories as stories--and develop out of infantile illusions. Immaturity is the state of being asleep but presuming that you're awake; it is the inability to tell that you're NOT awake, but living in a cave world. Maturity is the capacity to distinguish true waking from vivid dream experiences. It's this discriminating capacity that goes to sleep when you go to sleep intellectually and emotionally. It's precisely because we can't tell that we're NOT awake that the "shadow world" has such power over us.


Exercise 2: Overcoming the Cave Mind Set


      Click HERE to begin the exercise.









Exercise 3: Discerning Decadence


      Would you say that this image represents:

  Cool sexy art

  The decadent use of beauty for
    pornographic purposes





































      Would you say that this woman's "performance art," appearing naked next to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, represents legitimate art?

  Yes

  No

(And why is Fred staring at her?)


































      Would you say that all impressionist art is decadent:

  Yes

  No




































      Pablo Picasso's Guernica depicts the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-four bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, in which a number of people variously estimated between 250 and 1,600 were killed and many more were injured. The painting has constituted an anti-war entreaty of great force.



"The future of civilization depends on our overcoming the meaninglessness and hopelessness which characterize the thoughts and convictions of men today. We shall be capable of this however only when the majority of individuals discover for themselves both an ethic, and a profound steadfast attitude of world and life affirmation, and a theory of the universe that's convincing and based on reflection."

Albert Schweitzer, Philosophy of Civilization








1 The Perennial Tradition is the secret legacy, the single stream of initiatory teaching flowing through all the great schools of mysticism. See the author's book: The Perennial Tradition.