The Allegory of the Cave: Truth?

Plato, The Allegory of the Cave. I've read some essays on it. I skimmed others. I heard accounts of it in person, but I never read it myself. I was hesitant to write anything about it because, frankly, I haven't read the book and it might be hard for me if I tried. I can, however, sparknote it.

It was described basically how I remembered of it back when it was first explained to me. For those who don't want to read it I'll debrief you.

Imagine a group of people bound to the floor of a cave. Their heads are rendered immovable so that all they can see is what appears on the wall straight ahead. Behind them is a fire, and behind the fire is a partial wall. On top of the wall are various statues that are manipulated by another group of people who are lying out of sight. The people bound in the cave see these shadows and are given no choice but to understand them as reality or truth.

Now one day one of these people have their bonds removed. They look around the cave and they see the fire and the statues. They understand that what they once thought was true is not, and that these statues on the wall were true. This person now wonders outside the cave. They behold the wind, the grass, and the mighty sun.

Startled and excited, they run back into the cave to tell their fellow man about this astonishing discovery of truth, but their friends call them mad. This person is then ridiculed and shunned.

My question has always been: How do you know whether or not your in the cave?
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There's sometimes a lot of fighting between those calling themselves new age or spiritual, and those apart of a religion. Either way both groups are pursuing a truth. The same way as scientists, artists, archeologists, ancient alien theorist. (Yes I went there) But what is truth, and at what point do we leave the cave?

Many people reach a place where they believe they left the cave. They believe they have found truth and the right way to live. But lets go back to the man out of the cave. Say he sees a flower growing between two boulders. In that moment he understands that this flower can only grow between the rocks. Then he wonders further from the cave and discovers them growing in plenty in a field without a rock or boulder in sight. In that way didn't he just move again from one cave, or truth, to another? 

I suppose in a way there is a truth in being out of the cave if you think of the cave as a way of turning your back to the possibility of there being more to understand. People get comfortable in what they understand as unshakable truth. Often the person freed from their bonds would reject the new truth around them. Their entire world was shattered and the fire was too bright. How could it be that these figures are real? How can it be that there's anything brighter then this fire?

When our world is shaken in such a way we sometimes want to turn our back on it. We choose to believe that this is a lie, it's madness and that all that is real can be found in the shadows on the wall. In that way leaving the cave can represent the person who saw these things and, rather then turned their back to them, they embraced the discovery despite the radical quaking of their foundation. Not only that, but they went a step further to seek the truth beneath this new truth by leaving the cave to behold the expansive world. 

I haven't posted anything in a long time. Over the past months I've jumped from one radical emotional state to another, all the while asking the question, what is truth? What is my truth? Am I capable of love? Am I deserving of it? Who the hell am I anyway? What the hell is real? Is reality and actual thing? 

These are all questions I thought I had, at the very least, a passable answer for. But, lo and behold, my bounds were released, I saw the fire, and my world was crushed. 

I'm not alone in this. I see it in many people around me. The way the stars are positioning and the way the cogs are turning, people are being released from their bonds and forced to face their truth. 

I thought I had concurred my past. I lived through it, survived it, and came out a whole, confident person. But when the foundation began to crack I realized true confidence can't be built on hollow ground. 

The floor fell out from under my feet.  

During that long fall I realized some things. Pain is a healing transformation so don't push against it. And that I've lived my life until now with a sad voice repeating in the chord of my being. 'You don't matter. No one cares.' And rather then see that voice as a means to an end, I became angry. The more I heard it, the louder my anger got until only one answer was my means of survival. 'I'll prove to them how powerful I am. Then I'll matter.' 

I saw those influential people in the world making a difference. They preached love. Truth. Equality. Not only did people notice them but they mourned the loss of their lives. I decided I would be one of those people. I helped a lot of people, and I did it from a place of needing to be important.

But the world didn't need me. 

If the world didn't need me it meant I didn't matter. 

If I didn't matter no one would care. 

So I asked, 'What's the point?'

I went for a long walk one night feeling like a vortex was sucking me in. When I thought I reached a place I couldn't escape from I asked, 'what's the worst that happens if you were all there was?' What if I had no other purpose then to simply exist? In that way don't I matter? 

I feel as though I'm approaching some sort of truth. Like I'm balancing on the edge of a cliff, almost ready to take the leap of faith. Whether or not it means I'm leaving the cave or simply moving to another one I have no idea. In this theory, all the cave really represents anyway is the stages of discovery. 

Comments

  1. Good to hear from you again! This kind of reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars. Don't know if you've read the book or seen the movie. The two characters find meaning in different ways: Gus wants to change the world, while Hazel just wants to change the lives of the people close to her.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't seen it or read it. Usually when things get a lot of media I get skeptical. xD

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  2. I like the fact that you ask these questions even though you haven't read the book... I find it so much more fulfilling when those questions linger but you put it in your own perspective. Good stuff.

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