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What Is It To Be Enlightened?
What Is It To Be Enlightened?
Enlightenment. What is it to be enlightened? In the Allegory of The Cave Plato gives us the image of men trapped and chained in a cave from birth. Only able to see one way they live in a world of shadows they accept the shadows as all there is, as reality. He offers the idea that we too live in a world of shadows, where the truth of what is beyond the shadows is often missed by those unwilling to think beyond them. The journey to enlightenment is the path upwards out of the cave, leaving behind the known "world of sight" and seeing that the shadows are mere reflections of the truth.
In the allegory a man is set free, he is allowed to leave the cave and as he does he sees the images that had made the shadows he had thought of as reality and truth. As he journeys up from the cave he is blinded by the light, his eyes are still adjusted to seeing only shadows and therefore he sees in the dark better than in the light. Once outside the cave he becomes aware of a world that to the men chained bellow is impossible. Almost beyond comprehension, at first though unclear it slowly becomes more clear for the man. Once his eyes have adjusted he can see truth as it is, the way the world really works. He sees both shadows and the images that make them.
"His eye is turned towards more real existence, he has clearer vision"(p447), Plato offers that once the man is set free and his eyes adjust to the light he is able to see clearer. Now that he has seen beyond the shadows on the wall and sees the images making them, he sees the images making the shadows clearly and the shadows become blurry. The journey upwards and seeing the blinding light of the sun beyond is the pathway to enlightenment. Only when our eyes adjust to the light and we no longer need to close our eyes or see shadows clearer than the images making them do we truly become enlightened.