“Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from things passing in front of a fire behind them, and they begin to give names to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave]
Here is more detail on the prisoner’s return to the cave after he had seen the outside world:
“Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight.
The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave]
This allegory is usually interpreted from an epistemological point of view, which is a long word describing how we look at things (belief) from our own base of knowledge.
Plato ended the story with Socrates telling Glaucon (the pupil he was talking to):
“This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.” [http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/platoscave.html]
The Spiritual Intent of the Allegory of the Cave
While I can certainly understand reading the allegory to be one about our limited knowledge and how we process it, I see a more straightforward lesson. That is, we must look beyond what is shown us in this world, by our base senses and the influence of our society and look spiritually above us to moral truths, to Divine truths.
Plato has Socrates tell us directly to” interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world”. Which, I propose, is the spirit world, for only in that realm are we allow to fully use our intellect without the presence of numerous physical and emotional distractions. Only by transcending the influence of current society and leaving behind what we are told on a daily basis; what is good for us and what we should desire, can we begin learning what life is like out of the cave. For that is the reason we are on earth; to rise above the fray and become loving and caring individuals, even in the face of immense pressure to conform to what we know isn’t right.
The Prophecy of the Allegory of the Cave
There is a second message in the allegory of the cave and it is prophetic. The philosopher comes into the cave and tries to reveal a new world to the people chained to the wall watching the shadows. Socrates tells us that anyone trying to extricate the prisoners would meet with bodily harm.
Four hundred years later, Christ would attempt to reveal a new world and would be crucified for his effort. Continue on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, people are still dying, or at least being shouted down in their attempt to expose a new method of thinking on a class of people content with their world, as they see it.
The Physical Meaning of the Allegory of the Cave
There is also a third message. Notice how the prisoners only detect two dimensions in their analysis of life. The philosopher escapes and for the first time sees, not only length and width, but also depth. He sees a three-dimensional world.
Our world is three-dimensional. In the book Beyond the Veil, by the Rev. G. Vale Owen, the spirit Astriel tells him the spirit world is at least four-dimensional. Spirits can see length, width, depth and also time. They are able to focus on an object and see the past and the future.
We when leave our prison, we too shall emerge into a rich environment that is beyond our senses in our current body.
I have most probably gone from under-analyzing to over-analyzing the words of Socrates as interpreted by Plato, but I have learned that there are multiple meanings within passages aplenty in messages from the spirit realm. Keep in mind, as told to us by Emmanuel, in the book On the Way to the Light, Socrates was sent by Jesus to enlighten the Greeks. As with Jesus, Socrates too, was killed for his efforts.
If you would like to learn more about Spiritism, please read a summary of what Spiritism is, Spiritism 101 – The Third Revelation..