About Light & Truth pt.3 – A Brand New World, Kinda
Ok… so in the last two posts we read Plato’s fictional discussion on the prisoners condition in the dark and the effects their journey into the light would have on their eyes and their minds. My last post on the subject discovers what life would be like if they were to allow their eyes adjust to their new surroundings.
[Socrates] He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
[Socrates] Last, he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
[Socrates] He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things, which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
[Glaucon] Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
[Socrates] And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
[Glaucon] Certainly, he would.
Now that our eyes have adjusted we can realize the true relationship between truth and light. We discover that there is something more to the world than our old dark inhabitance. The things we saw as normal in our prior state, begin to take on the personality of something more magical. We experience the same objects we experienced in the dark but in a new more beautiful way. The objects we touched and felt in the dark, have new meaning when seen in our new world, for now we have greater understanding of their wonderful shapes and gorgeous colors. The voices, echoes, and sounds we heard in the cave mean nothing for now we see the faces of those who made those sounds. We have discovered a new, amazing, and beautiful world and yet it’s really not all that new. It’s the same world in which we have always existed and yet it seems completely different now because of our new eyes; our new understanding. Plato’s parable is such a beautiful picture of a re-birth into a world one already knows. I love that it shows us how wonderful and painful a realization of truth can be, and how wonderful still, it is that we get to seek after this death and re-birth everyday of our lives, for truth will always be more light than we can take in all at once.
And yet knowing all of this, I find myself still somewhat incomplete, for today I’m standing in the light and experiencing the excruciating pain of one who just stepped out from the dark. I find, within myself, the temptation to run back into the cave thinking, “nothing that causes this much pain could ever be good.” Yet out of the blurry nothingness I have hope. How wonderful will it be to look into the eyes of the one who cared about me enough to free me. I look forward to the chance to understand him more fully and If the pain I feel now is any indication of how beautiful the new world, then I’m headed for heaven.