Once upon a time a man who had lost faith found himself sitting in an otherwise empty tavern pondering the reflections of the life he had left behind him. Asking himself the hard questions about different pasts, different futures, and the world he could see reflected in the mirrors behind the bar. A woman enters. And as the barman fills her order casual social intercourse begins. The man at the bar is drawn in, and a conversation starts. The barman is soon draw away. Yet the conversation continues.
The conversation meanders until the man smiles and remembers. His voice falters and he stutters to silence. He puts the thought behind him and takes a deep calming breath. Looking through the mirrors in front of him into the world behind him he picks up his glass and apologises. Commenting that, for a moment, nothing appeared to be quite what it seemed to be. The woman smiles and begins to tell a story.
…the allegory of the cave
Once upon a time the world was very different. Times were different. Life was different. People were different. It was a simple world because nothing had been discovered yet. So not a thing looked like it does today. But, just as it is today, the citizens of the land would profess just how free, cultured, and civilized they were.
What the people were unable to see, however, was that an evil sorcerer had cast a spell over the world and the minds of the people. For the people were not free. They were prisoners. Chained on benches in a cave, their head fixed in place allowing them to see nothing but the wall of the cave in front of them. Behind them burns a huge fire. And between the fire and the people, a bridge.
Puppeteers stand on the bridge. Their puppets, which are behind the people and before the fire, cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The people are unable to see these puppets. Unable to see the real objects that pass behind them. What the people see are shadows. Shadows cast by the objects they do not see. Yet people still do not know they are prisoners. They know nothing of the real causes of the shadows. And in their ignorance mistake the appearances before them for reality. To the people the shadows they could see on the wall were real.
For generations the people existed within the confines of the cave. The cycles of birth, death and life revolving around the false reality cast on the wall of the cave by shadows. From time to time one of the people would escape. Cast loose their bonds and find their way from the cave into the true light of the world.
Yet such escapees were never the concern of the puppeteers or the evil sorcerer. Because the fate of such individuals was always the same. Either they would perish from the aching loneliness coming to terms with loosing all that they once held to be true. Or they would return to the cave and do what they could to enlighten their fellow man.
And this then is the cruellest irony. For those that who returned were treated harshly by the others. Even a simple attempt to show the true reality behind the shadows would lead to vociferous accusations of heresy. Or worse. For the view of the people was that the heretics were seeing things that were not really there. And in this a charge of demonic possession would seem reasonable. And so the escapees would perish inside the cave too.
For eons life went on inside the cave. Until the very essence of the people became so adjusted to the reality of their imprisonment none would try to escape. This made the sorcerer very happy for finally the mind of the people had been truly enslaved. But this is a fairy-tale, and the lore demands a different outcome. Good triumphs over evil. And there’s always hope.
And so the people found their freedom. For there was one born into the cave who could send his mind elsewhere. One able to see beyond the cave without leaving it. One able to walk the lines in the minds of the people. And with all the knowledge at his disposal he sent his mind into the mind of the sorcerer. And with a power the likes of which the sorcerer had never seen took the power of the sorcerer as his own. Then, with a thought, he turned the walls of the cave into transparent blue crystal.
And in an instant the people were enlightened. Together they left the cave forever. And the people all lived happily ever after. Yet the power of the one still remains to this day. For never again will shadows and darkness be allowed to rule the world…
With the story concluded the woman becomes silent and smiles. The man remains silent for a moment too. Then he notices the room is beginning to fill-up. Looking at his watch he opens his mouth to speak. Only to be interrupted by the arrival of the woman’s friends. A different conversation starts. The man begins to be drawn into this conversation too. Yet soon his drink is finished and he elects to withdraw. He makes his excuses and departs with good humour.