Look at this drawing! The people are chained and unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire and between the fire and them there is a stage along which actors can walk(act). They cast shadows on the wall of the cave, the people are unable to see these actors, the real objects that pass behind them.
What the people see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects they do not see. Such people see the film on the cave wall and take it for reality.
They think the things they see on the wall(the shadows) are real and they know nothing of the real causes of the shadows. Let’s assume a globe was moved behind them on the stage and it cast a shadow on the wall and they say I see a disc what is he talking about? He thinks he is talking about a disc but really he is talking about a shadow, and if they say disc then even the word disc would be used incorrectly because they would give names to a shadow on the wall instead of naming the real thing that casts a shadow on the wall.
When they say that is a disc, they think that the word disc refers to the very thing they are looking at, but they would be wrong and if they would be able to turn around they could see the disc is only a shadow of a globe.
Once they would be able to turn around they would realize their mistake. They need to reach this reflective understanding(for more than one reason) but aside from this the ability to think and speak comes from two things: 1) by naming what you see(on the wall) and 2) the meaning you connect to it which means not knowing the truth makes seeking for truth. And when knowing is reached thinking stops, while now they are like trees that seek water and build roots and make connections of shadows.
They may learn what a disc is by their experience with shadows of a disc but they would be mistaken if they thought that the word disc refers to something that any of them has ever seen. Even a disc is something else than a shadow. Likewise you may acquire concepts by your perceptual experience of physical objects, but wrong if you thought that what you perceive and seek to understand is anywhere near to what you think you grasp.
But now another level, see if you can recognize this in the cave, the energy(fire/light) shines/flows through your memories(actors) so the light you project on things or situations is the light of your personal ideas which reflects back from the object or situation, feeding the impurity with his own believe that is still stored. They cast their own shadows too, and thoughts are like the shadows of man’s personality seeking and judging. Emotions and thoughts are like the tools of those personal ideas to help them seek of self for self and so you remain a prisoner in your own cave.
So first one needs to become master over his emotions, then trace them back to their origin and see the shadows they cast on your life.
Moshiya van den Broek