Explanation of The Cave
Prisoners are chained deep down in a cave, from very early childhood. Their arms, legs, and head are all chained so that they cannot move, only stare at the wall before them.
Behind them is a huge fire. Between them and the fire is a raised path, on which shapes of animals, plants, and other items are carried. This casts shadows on the wall, which transfixes the prisoners; and when one of the carriers speaks, the sound echoes throughout the cave so the prisoners believe that it is coming from the shadows themselves. The captives play a sort of "name game" with one another, giving names to the shadows, which are the only reality they know.
Now picture one of the prisoners is freed from his bonds, and is beckoned to stand and turn around. He would sense pain in his body, and would be blinded by the glare of light. The shapes passing before him would seem less real than the shadows that they cast.
Upon leaving the cave, he is once again blinded by the increase in light. At first he only sees dark silhouettes of things, then he begins to see objects more and more clearly as his eyes adjust.
The last thing he would see is the sun itself, which he learns creates all of the seasons, and shapes and touches all that surrounds him.
Returning to the cave so that he may free his fellow prisoners, his eyes do not adjust well to the darkness. He cannot play their name game as quick, and they believe him to be blinded from his venture away. They think that this will happen to them, and so do not want to be freed, and out of this fear become murderous to anyone intending to do so.
A present day version of The Cave could be likened to a movie many of you will remember -- "The Matrix", and Neo's path to enlightenment. In the movie, Neo knows that there is more truth out there than what he sees, and chooses to swallow the pill that will allow him to progress further and learn. He soon awakens to find himself bound in a liquid filled container. Breaking free, he begins a journey, learning about the realities of present life, negating all that he knew before. He begins to see the world for what it really is; learning that his former world was merely created by a computer program, known as "The Matrix". Neo goes on to realize that while he has this knowledge and can accept it and live in what is truly reality, most people are not ready. They are too fragile for the truth, and would resist or even die from the knowledge. Even some of those that learned the truth failed to thrive in the real environment, choosing instead to be placed back within the false reality.
Applying This to the Present Day
This can be applied to each and every one of us. Every day we choose what we believe to be true. Plato referred to this as "eikasia" which he used to refer to a human's way of dealing with appearances. It is the ability to perceive whether a perception is an image of something else; allowing us to see that a dream or memory, or even a reflection in a mirror, is not reality. We all have puppeteers in our lives influencing what we believe to be true, such as Plato's object carriers and Neo's Matrix. Our parents, teachers, governments and media all influence what we think. It is our job to "awaken", and sort through things diligently to see the truth for what it really is. This is our own personal "Path to Enlightenment", our own journeys out of the cave and in search of the sun.
How This Relates to Our Health
Some of us today are seeing the truth of our situation, and luckily our numbers are growing. We are sick, we are suffering, and we are dying. Why? Our meat comes from factories. Our vegetables and fruits are contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. Our seeds are being genetically engineered, and can now be patented.
Our grocery carts are filled with the latest boxes and packages of low-fat, low-carb, eat healthy, lose weight Garbage, yet we scoff at the prices of organic foods. Where once was a bowl of dough rising on the counter to be baked fresh from whole grains for the family dinner table, now sits a box of Bisquick.
Our milk contains pus and antibiotics, our meats contain nitrates, our drinks and many foods are laden with high fructose corn syrup. In an effort to minimize our waist-lines we consume the poisonous wood alcohol methanol, an ingredient in aspartame.
We have stolen from the earth, taken what was natural and healthy for us and made it unnatural and inherently detrimental. Our children are growing up on sugar and refined foods and we stare blankly when someone tells us that we are clogging their arteries even before they hit puberty.
Our doctors prescribe us pharmaceuticals to address our health concerns, which in turn cause us more problems that lead to more prescriptions. We complacently believe that cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome are just the side effects of growing old, and that the pharmaceutical companies will keep coming out with more products to "save" us.
Our waists are expanding, our hearts and livers and kidneys are failing. Our arteries are clogging at alarming rates and yet still, what do we do? Supersize that, please.
We must get back to reality. We must get back to nature.
I urge you all, break free of your bonds and walk out of the cave!
"Plato: The Allegory of the Cave". Washington State University. July 14, 2007 ((http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_c...) .
Possehl, Melissa. "Explanation of the Cave". Critical Thinking March, 2006.
About the authorMel Possehl is a Holistic Wellness Consultant working towards dual diplomas in Herbalism & Holistic Health, and is studying for the Registered Aromatherapist certification.
She has two blogs on natural health: