Plasto's Allegory of the Cave

  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 and mental 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, sounds, and "facts"), 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 cave 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.