The myth or allegory of the cave explains how people are trapped in their ideas and the need to go beyond our own beliefs and theories. All ancient philosophies, from the west or from the east, point out that people is under the influence of MAYA (Illusion). So, what this story means?
The cave and the prisoners are just mere symbols of the subconscious and our soul. The soul is or own reality beyond thoughts. Wait a minute! How the myths goes? Oh, yes, let's go to the tale.
We can say, in short, that the myth goes like this:
Plato wants us to imagine a cave where some prisoners are. They are chain to something and they cannot move freely. They can see only a wall where some shadows are projected. People passing by are making those shadows, but the prisoners cannot see them. Plato explains that, for the prisoners, the shadows are the reality because they cannot see the real people. they can see only the shadows.
Now, let's pretend one of the prisoners is taken out to see how things are out of the cave. The first thing that he will experiment is that he cannot see the light because he was in darkness for such a long time. Later, after some time, he will be able to see everything. He will be happy to see the beauty out of the cave. He will feel the need to talk to their old friends about the marvelous world out of the cave.
The prisoner will go back to tell his old friends about the beauty that he saw out of the cave. Nevertheless, they will not understand what he is talking about. Why? Because they never saw such a beautiful thing. It does not matter how hard he tries to explain because they will not understand. But maybe one, that could be you, might try to belief what he is talking about and maybe he will follow the person who already was outside. If he really try, then he might go out of the cave; but if he doubt he will never go out of the cave.
Here is a clip that will help you to visualize the myth:
What all that mean? Let's see the Culwisdom's way:
THE MEANING OF THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE.
Wisdom is so deep that explaining it never is easy. That is why ancient philosophers and Masters had to use metaphors, symbols, myths and parables.
The mind, as it is, is not able to understand wisdom. So, in the beginning all symbols, myths, etc. are good to illustrate real things. later, when the person is ready then he/she can understand things more clear.
Wisdom is not for everyone because not everyone is ready to understand it. Nevertheless, when a person is ready wisdom comes to visit him/her.
The cave represents the subconscious where all our inner desires are. Buddha said: The root of suffering is desire. He was not talking about all desires, but about selfish desires.
Think about this: All desires come from the mind and from it all evil thoughts come out too. Revenge, for example, starts with thoughts and later they might become actions. It could be good if you check my article: HUMAN SACRIFICES. I explain there symbols related to this matter.
There are other myths related to the fact of controlling our mind in order to defeat the subconscious. Buddha, for example, defeated Mara and his demons. Mara was the symbol of the subconscious.
Right there, in the cave, is the problem. Why? We cannot see the light (Wisdom) as long as we are trapped inside of it. Inside is only darkness. All our ideas and theories come form the cave, from darkness. sometimes, those ideas and theories bright a lot and look so awesome that we think they are true; but reality has nothing to do with our ideas or theories. if reality depends on our theories and ideas then there is not one reality; but a reality for each single person. It just does not make sense. it has to be something real beyond human ideas. Real wisdom is not a theory or idea; it is not a belief.
So, where is that absolute reality? It is within you and within me! But we talk about it in another time.
Let's keep studying the cave...
THE REAL MESSAGE FROM ALL CIVILIZATIONS:
The cave is a symbol of darkness and ignorance. Here is where bringing light into the cave makes sense. That light is enlightenment! The latter is one of the goals of meditation. On the other hand, we are now in the iron Age, the age of darkness or ignorance. How can that be if we have such a great technology? Well, having technology does not make us better humans, but technology and science are important in our life. Nevertheless, there are many things that point out that ancient civilizations did have technology too. No? Please read my article: THE FOUR YUGAS OR STAGES OF HUMANITY.
The whole idea is to discover our own truth or reality beyond our beliefs. that has been taught in every single tradition, myths, symbol, civilization, etc.
The myths of the cave is just telling us the same message in a different way. that message was taught by every single Master like Buddha and others.
The problem is that nowadays we are trapped in this materialism where having a good friend is not easy, earning some money is not easy either and finding real love looks impossible. I think we can have all, but we all need to change; we all need to fight for a better world full of love and compassion.
THE TRUTH IS WITHIN YOU!
We need to get into our own cave with the torch of wisdom. Whoever looks for the truth outside is just wasting the time. Nobody can bring light into your cave; but you!
That marvelous world out of the cave is a symbol of being free from all theories and ideas trapped into our mind. The mind needs new ideas and we need will to overcome our weakness.
It is always a need of a guide. That person is the one who knows the way out. That guide is our own capacity of discernment. It is not possible to go out from the cave without that capacity. Sometimes we need someone who has some experience about the path. But the bottom line is this: THE TRUTH IS WITHIN YOU AND ONLY YOU CAN FIND IT!
MORE FROM CULWISDOM:
Meaning of Myths, Symbols and Parables.
The serpent and the tree.
The creation myths and the fall of men!
The meaning of Human Sacrifices!