posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 10:50 AM
Plato's cave is an analogy about the nature of the human mind. The cave represents the cave of the mind, the shadows represent the mental impressions
created within the mind, which we assign objective reality, and the chains represent the chains of the senses, which bind us to that illusion.
The fact is that we never actually see the world as it really is. For example, when we observe a tree in the yard, we dont really see the tree. All we
ever see is a mental impression of that tree created within our own minds. Nevertheless, we take that mental impression to be the actual tree, just
like the people in the cave take the shadows to be the objects of the real world.
To analyze the situation in more detail, we can take recourse to modern science. To observe a "tree" in the yard, electromagnetic waves must be
emitted by the atoms of the tree and then impinge upon the retina of our eyes, where they induce certain structural and chemical changes in the eyes.
Those changes are then transmitted via nerve fibers to the visual cortex of our brain, where they induce certain behavioral changes in our brain
This is where modern science has to put a big black box. We dont know exactly how brain cells induce "mental impressions" within our minds--but
somehow brain cells have the potential to induce certain patterns of "color" that appear within our minds. We then "interpret" these patterns of
color as a "tree" in the yard. But we never actually see the tree as it exists in itself. All we ever see is the pattern of color, the mental
impression, created within our mind.
What Plato was pointing out is that we mistakenly assume that this "pattern of color" is the actual tree. Just as a shadow is not the real object,
but an impression of that object created by the absence of light, so also, our mental impressions of objects are not the real objects, but merely
impressions of those objects created in our minds through the agency of the senses.
Plato's solution was to cut the chains and lead the people out of the cave into the Light so that they can see the real world for themselves. This
corresponds to obtaining spiritual enlightenment, where consciousness becomes free from the binding influence of the physical senses, and develops the
ability to intuit the world as it is in itself, directly and immediately, without relying upon the physical organs of sense. The ancient Vedic
"seers" (rishis) described this type of enlightened perception as "seeing without eyes", "hearing without ears", etc.
To obtain this type of perception, the human mind must be transcended, such that awareness becomes identified with the "field of pure consciousness"
that underlies all things and pervades all space. That field was said to be self-luminous and self-resonant, such that it is pervaded by impulses of
transcendental light (param jyotih) and transcendental sound (param nada), which cannot be experienced by the physical senses--but only by the field
of pure consciousness itself, which acts as its own knower and perceiver. Thus, the ancients were fond of saying that their teachings could only be
understood by those who have the "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" what cannot be ordinarily seen and heard. They were talking about the
extraordinary type of non-local perception, which has its locus in the field of pure consciousness itself, rather than in the physical organs of