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Plato's Cave Explained

Before we can begin with any kind of explanation it is considered appropriate to illustrate Plato's Cave so as for our readers to get the idea of it.

We had two options to do this: either, write down the entire story or present to you the story with a video.

We chose the second approach which will give you Plato's Cave in circa 3 minutes.

--> Click "play-button" below to launch video. (Plato's Cave)

Download Video: Closed Format: "MP4" Open Format: "OGG"


OK, now that we have down “Plato’s Cave Allegory” we can proceed with its explanation.

(Please Note: In our explanation, we will go far beyond, and more in depth, to the stuff that is shown in the video. The video just provides you with only the general concepts of Plato’s Cave).

Now, if we were to describe the meaning of Plato’s Cave in a sentence it would be like this: “Everything is a matter of perception and understanding”. This is Plato’s Cave in a nutshell.

Wouldn’t it be nice and sweet if you guys could get away with just that kind of explanation?

In Ancient Sparta, you would be certainly termed as “wise men”. Why? Because the Ancient Greeks had a saying:

“το λακωνίζειν εστί φιλοσοφείν” (some say, it was first stated by: Chilon of Sparta); and in loose translation it means: “if you can say everything in just a few words (or lines), it is an indication of wisdom”.

Nowadays however, if you would provide such an answer in, let us say, a class exam you most probably would be classified as lazy and would flop the test.

Not good... obviously.

Hence, let us continue with a more detailed exploration of Plato’s Cave.

So as to understand Plato’s Cave, we need to observe the various sections of the Allegory, to break them down and to analyse them accordingly. In short, Plato’s Cave consists of ten phases (or steps if you prefer) which are:

Existing Status: Twisted perception of reality, delusion and deception.

First Awakening: The level of perception increases

Awakening and Independence: The smog of Misconception fades away, penetration of Reality.

Ascension: Illumination, rise to enlightenment and passing the thresholds of the Guardians.

Enlightenment: The individual has been enlightened and the Truth of the Cosmos reveals itself to him.

The Choice: The chosen one has to make a choice (to take the Blue or the Red pill?!).

Fighting against the current Status Quo: The enlightened individual vs the System’s "Agents".

Contact: The enlightened individual tries to awaken others.

The masses' Reaction: The masses cannot comprehend the enlightened individual and oppose him.

Final Response: The masses will try to destroy the enlightened individual.

Now let us proceed with a Detailed Explanation of the aforementioned steps...

Existing Status: Twisted perception of reality, delusion and deception.

In this phase and according to Plato’s Cave, people practically have no idea of the Cosmic Truth and all they perceive in their ordinary and everyday lives is nothing more than just a twisted perception of idols that have nothing to do with the real Cosmic Ideas!

OK, you may wonder: “What the hell are you talking about here, nikvas”? (In case you are wondering who nikvas is... it is us guys, the authors of the current article, lol).

Let us put it this way: everything that we came to believe in as well as everything that concerns the fact of how the framework of our mind “operates” is nothing else than ideas, values and beliefs that have been engraved to us from our early years of existence. For instance, when our parents told us that this is good and this is bad, as children, we did not question their “higher knowledge and wisdom”; we accepted everything as we were told, similarly with religious beliefs.

Later on in our lives we were taught what the commonly accepted social norms are, which obviously we had to follow without questioning because it is the “right thing to do”. In the universities humans are taught what they should believe in and what to accept (basically nothing more than theories and the “term” theory stands for: this is what someone believes or thinks about a certain case, in a certain point in time), how they should approach and resolve issues and so forth.

Peoples' cognitive thinking becomes in fact stalled.

Food for thought for you guys: Does it not strike you as a surprise that everything in this world is contradicting itself and that the only laws that are applicable to our situation are actually never taught to people? Think about it for a moment… We will address the issue in a later article that we will publish in the near future. So let us focus for the time-being on Plato’s Cave.

Bottom line of the current phase of Plato’s Cave is that humans of that stage: a) have a completely distorted conception of reality, b) they are incapable of moving the curtain and to clear the smog that is clouding their minds. In this phase people are practically passive and accept everything that is handed to them.

Humans are nothing more than just puppets in the hands of their master-puppeteers.

First Awakening: The level of perception increases

In this step, one way or another, the individual manages to increase his awareness of the truth (aka self-awareness).

What is more, when the process is achieved for the first time, the person is basically dumbstruck.

The reason? Because the amount of new and uncontrolled information that hits him, is one of a kind.

The individual, while looking at others who are still locked at “phase one”, cannot believe that they are unable to realize what he is able to see. The individual embarks on an esoteric journey, seeking the mysteries of the world but above all to increase his self-awareness; and basically keeps his mouth shut.

So here pops-up a potential question: why would the individual keep silent? Well, first of all, because the person still tries to understand what on earth is going on but also, because he is unsure of who else is capable of such a feat.

In other terms, he is afraid of being classified as loco.

Awakening and Independence: The smog of Misconception fades away, penetration of Reality.

As the esoteric journey continues and self-awareness increases, the shackles that were chaining the individual fall off. Unconstrained from the shackles the individual is now capable of observing his surroundings under a complete different viewpoint, his self-awareness starts to sky-rock and he experiences a freedom, previously incomprehensible to him.

Knowledge and wisdom continue to gather around him.

If by any chance, you guys are into all the chakra stuff, this phase practically describes the full opening of the sixth petal (aka the third eye) and the gradual awakening of the seventh one (aka the crown).

Ascension: Illumination, rise to enlightenment and passing the thresholds of the Guardians.

Finally, the individual musters all his braveness and starts to ascend the Cosmic Ladder (any Alchemists around?!), to face the various Guardians of the Thresholds (any Occult scientists around?!) and to ascend into the Cosmos.

OK, admittedly you may wonder right now:

“nikvas, are you under drugs or did you eat a weird mushroom? What the hell are you talking about here, again?”…

OK, let us step back for a moment and see what Plato was talking about.

First, he was referring to what the chakra-guys would describe as the full awakening of the seventh chakra; also, in this phase, astral navigation, contact with higher beings and so forth is now possible. If you are into Don Juan’s Toltec Magic (aka Carlos Castaneda) than in this case you are now able to freely move your assemblage point and to meet with your guardians (aka allies) and the Voladores dudes.

To a more main-stream explanation:

Plato describes the phase in which the individual, freed from his past misconceptions, is capable of deepening his knowledge of self-awareness and to explore his inner-truths as well as the Cosmos.

Keep in mind that everything is energy (contemporary sciences support this suggestion) and in this instance, the individual is able to perceive and to utilize the energies; namely, his energy and the one of the Cosmos (as above, so below, does it ring a bell?).

Also, if any of you manage to reach that stage, just make sure you will not end up like Icarus (now, are you starting to get the deeper meaning of that legend as well?!).

Enlightenment: The individual has been enlightened and the Truth of the Cosmos reveals itself to him.

Finally, the individual becomes enlightened; Buddha’s version of the 21st century.

Cosmic Knowledge, Cosmic Wisdom and Cosmic Energy is flowing from within and from without freely.

The individual has broken away from any boundaries which were limiting him so far and entered the Cosmos.

Free, for the first time he enters the Cosmos; enlightened all the way!

There are no limits, nothing that could stop him anymore. He has finally become a true member of the Universe and attained the higher stages of evolution.

If you guys are into alchemy, this is the top of the ladder and practically the individual is holding in his hands the Philosopher’s Stone!

If you are into occult, congrats, you just broke the chain of Reincarnations and can get the hell out of this miserable world.

Absolute Nirvana has been reached…

Shangri-La baby, yeah!!!





Because Plato did not stop here his story so as to give us a Hollywood-style happy ending…

Nope, he wanted to go Matrix style!

Seriously guys, the Wachowski brothers were highly influence by Plato’s Cave and expanded their research into how the mind operates etc. Hence, they gave us the masterpiece known as “The Matrix”.

Back to Plato…

For some reason, Plato went on assuming that the individual might, (most certainly), refuse to just make himself comfy up in the heavens and be “flattered” to embrace the role of an Avatar (in the Hinduism sense)…

We say: screw the world Plato… but since it is Plato’s story, let us continue…

The Choice: The chosen one has to make a choice (To take the Blue or the Red pill?)

As stated above the individual, for some reason (unknown to us) being among the gods and enjoying eternity gangsta-style, might not be so pleased after all.


Due to the fact that the enlightened-Buddha, of the 21st century, may feel unhappy for the people that are still shackled in the materialistic world of ours.

So he is confronted with the following choice: Stay up there or become something like an Avatar and descend upon us to get us out of our misery; practically, to become something like a combination of Morpheus and Neo from “The Matrix”.

For the story’s purpose, the individual decides to descend and to support us… the miserable suckers who are still stuck down here.

A bitter and hard choice has just been made.

In case you may wonder why someone would reject eternal-bliss so as to come back here… well, ask that question to yourself once you reach that level of enlightenment.

Moving on...

Fighting against the current Status Quo: The enlightened individual vs the System’s “Agents”

As the Avatar descends to reach us, the first obstacles he has to overcome are the agents of the system, in other terms, the current status-quo.

Some might say, who are these agents? Agent Smith?

Guys, seriously, get real…

The agents of the system are no other than the existing ruling class!

The ones, which are practically, controlling everything in our world. It is not just one person, or just a handful of people but thousands of them! And we say thousands, because aside from the few ones, that are located at the top of the ruling pyramid, there are thousands below them, who lick their feet, and are loyal to them... to a fault (damn buttlickers we might add).

(If by any chance you owe taxes to the IRS, or a loan to the bank, you guessed correctly: you certainly do NOT belong to the ruling class but to the suckers that are chained down to the ground and are looking at the wall).

In any event, since the Avatar is coming down, faster than hell on wheels, some may say, the Agents will try to oppose him; because the Avatar cannot be controlled or be tamed by anything.

The Avatar is a free-spirit, someone that is capable of thinking for himself, someone who can penetrate the deepest truths, a free and thinking citizen… and basically, does not take bullshit from anyone.

In any event, assuming that the enlightened individual is capable of fending of the hordes of agents that will come at him, eventually he will reach the next step.

Contact: The enlightened individual tries to awaken others

Finally, he reaches the place where he once used to be and still sees (with tears in his eyes… some dramaturgy might be appropriate at this point to create some mood…) people being shackled and unable to move.

He tries to give them insights of the Cosmic Truth, to awaken them, to free them from their shackles, to open their minds, to jump-start their self-awareness, to help them realize about the fatality of just being focused on materialism and to help them focus on higher goals…

Practically, the list is infinite.

However, there is a problem that the Avatar might not have thought of before… but, is now confronted with:

the people!

The masses’ reaction: The masses cannot comprehend the enlightened individual and oppose him

The Avatar reaches out to the people but…

All that the people see are twisted shadows on the walls.

All that the people hear, are some blurry and incomprehensible noises.

All that the people understand… well, they understand nothing! Nothing at all!

Think of it like this: Go to a youngster today, and without warning take away his smartphone (while playing Pokemon on the Go); and start talking to him about the fact that there are more things going on in this world that are far beyond the small screen which has become the teenager’s reality.

What do you think will happen? If the youngster is from upstate: he will punch you a couple of times. If the youngster is from a shady neighbourhood, he will smoke your ass, for disturbing his game, with a few gunshots here and there.

The point is that people will look at the Avatar completely perplexed. They will see something they cannot comprehend at all…

And as a saying goes: “Which people do not understand, they fear…”

And as psychology 101 proposes, fear expresses itself in two forms: passive (aka accepting the inevitable without a fight) or aggressive (aka violence).

And as psychology 102 suggests: jealousy is a very (negative) powerful force that leads the mind towards dark alleys…

Final Response: The masses will try to destroy the enlightened individual

Even if the agents were unable to stop the Avatar the people will turn against him; and the masses will try to destroy the Avatar so as to continue with their pathetic lives.

In this case, “The Matrix” was spot on! Our societies are controlled in such a way that when somebody steps outside the box, or rises above the rest, society itself tries to drag that person down or to destroy the individual.

The lesson to be learned: “If you guys intent to rise above the rest (i.e. with your business, make sure to be strong enough to stay up there; otherwise, you will crash-land)”.

You think that we are talking nonsense here or exaggerating things?

Allow us to give you a few handpicked examples… and since we are on the Ancient Greece Reloaded website, let us pick the examples from Ancient Greece.

Here we go …

Themistocles: Exiled

Miltiades: Died in prison

Aristides the Just: Died of hunger in exile (and guess for what reason: because he was just and objective till the end!!! Obviously, the opposite of a politician…)

Pythagoras: there are a few versions of his death. One states that he was killed by a mob. Another, that he died of hunger in exile

Pericles: Was forced to resign his leadership, with unjust accusations, and died a while after

Phidias: Died in prison

Aeschylus: Died in exile

Sophocles: Died in exile

Euripides: Died in exile

Herodotus: Died in exile

Ictinus: Died in exile

Socrates: Executed with poison

Thucydides: Died in exile

Aristophanes: Died of hunger in exile

Demosthenes: Died by drinking poison after being unfairly accused

Isocrates: Died in exile

Anaxagoras Died in exile

Aristotle: Forced to exile (Since the Athenians kicked him out of the city he “replied” a few years later with Alexander the Great and by taking down Athens… revenge is sweet, isn’t it?)

Pausanias: Died of hunger by being imprisoned inside a Temple

Leonidas and his 300 Spartans (This is Sparta! Yep, those guys…): Taken advantage of and have been sent to a suicidal mission with a 100% death rate; the battleground Thermopiles (by the way guys, send us an email as a reminder or something, so as to write an article for you, about that story).

… and the list goes on (unfortunately)…

To summarize, what is the core essence of Plato’s Cave?

Plato’s Cave Allegory has a twofold meaning: on the one hand, it describes our society (a description that is still valid today) while on the other hand, it describes the esoteric journey of self-awareness with all its obstacles.

In the first instance, it illustrates how the masses will try to eliminate someone that manages to rise above them; either because they are unable to understand him or due to jealousy and fear.

In the second instance, Plato describes the journey of someone who might seek to attain self-awareness; and the choice the person will eventually have to make namely, to either stay in his stage of nirvana or to proceed by trying to help others (history teaches us that the striking majority of the Avatars, that went ahead to help others, ended up as a sacrifice - aka dead).

The final lesson of Plato’s Cave Allegory can be summarized in two of Epictetus quotes:

“It does not matter what you see but what you understand from what you see”


“No man is free who is not master of himself”

So guys,

In which phase of Plato’s Cave do you think that you belong to?

Let us know your thoughts of the article by visiting our Forum.

For more articles go to our Brainstorming Section or click here: Brainstorming

Author: nikvas

Published: October 06, 2016

Written For: Ancient Greece Reloaded

Moreover, if you wish to reproduce the article you are more than welcome to do so as long as you cite the source, which in this case is:

Site: Ancient Greece Reloaded


Author: nikvas and the Ancient Greece Reloaded Team

Date: (the date you guys retrieved the article)


[1] "The Cave: An Adaptation of Plato's Allegory in Clay"

[2] "Plato's Books from our Free Online Library"

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