Institutional Thinking – The Matrix, 1984 and The Allegory of The Cave

I saw this and thought it would be a perfect follow up to my last post. Thanks Ethan, and Waking Times for all the awesome information you put out there. (groovy picture below from google images). Keep in mind this was written around 380 B.C. so sadly, it’s safe to say enlightenment seems very slow in coming to the collective we. Does mankind really prefer to look at the shadows rather than look up at the light of the sun?

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Ethan ‘Indigo’ Smith, Contributor
Waking Times

Some philosophical work is so profound as to be influential for thousands of years. Plato’s ‘The Republic‘ is one such series of dialogues. It explains and explores the relationship between state institutions and individuals, and has provided humanity with lessons in politics, philosophy and individual enlightenment since it was penned some two thousand years ago.

One of the central dialogues in The Republic is called the Allegory of the Cave. The lessons the Allegory of the Cave provides to today’s world are numerous, and its depiction of our insidious societal structure is extremely accurate and insightful — despite often going unacknowledged as such.  Through its exploration of our political outer states, it also explores our psychological inner state as well.

The Allegory of The Cave proposes that what people take to be ‘reality’ in total is only a partial reality, or an all out illusion.  As is all similar philosophy, the allegory is layered, but it is partially about breaking from mainstream thinking and seeking individual knowledge; the ascension of  perspective; being in a cave and coming out of a cave. It’s about how we can ascend from the bottom to stand face-to-face with the golden Sun.

Socrates begins:  “Let me show you in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened Behold! Human beings living in an underground cave”.

The 4 Characters of the Cave

In the Allegory there are four character types.  Most people are chained, forced to watch images on a cave wall. Some however, the second character type, are unchained. They need no force; they are so transfixed with the imagery on the wall that the shadows are all they care about, and remain in the cave by choice. The images are cast on the wall by the third character type, the captors, who use a fire behind them to produce various shadows, to keep the prisoners entertained. The prisoners interpret the shadows and whatever noises are made as reality in total, for it is all they know. The fourth character type is the freed prisoner.

The narrative of The Cave hypothesizes what happens after the prisoner is released from the false imagery to which his society is subjected. In the film The Matrix, Neo is the freed prisoner; in 1984, Winston Smith dreams of being the freed prisoner.

The Freed Prisoner

The story of the freed prisoner goes that, after initial shock and distress, the prisoner learns to distinguish between reality and shadows, and sees the fire producing the shadows. When exiting the cave, he is first blinded by the light but eventually learns the basics of nature. He learns what is real, and what is shadow and reflection. He learns of Earth and Water and that all is dependent on the Sun, seasons and all life. After learning of the true reality outside the cave, free of the false images of his captors, the prisoner is inclined to return and inform those still confined to the cave of their present predicament… with unexpected results.

Similarly, the story of 1984 by George Orwell  takes place within an imagined dystopian future;  the allegorical cavern. The Telescreen, which constantly transmits as well as oversees, is equivalent to the shadows on the cave wall cast by the unseen captors, the Inner Party. Most people in 1984 are Proles; they are equivalent to the people chained in the cave, forced to accept false imagery as their reality. They have been prisoners their whole lives and do not notice the fact they are chained. The Outer party are the unchained, remaining totally transfixed on the party line told by the Telescreen. They are so loyal to the imagery and  narrative created by their captors that they will believe whatever they are shown, rather than observe for themselves. They will believe two plus two is five, as the saying goes, as long as it is presented as such on the Telescreen.

In the  dystopian world of  The Matrix, the same futuristic Allegory of The Cave is again explored. Neo is freed and seeks to free the others, and encounters the same archetypes and challenges.

Moreover the return of the freed prisoner can also be related to the ‘return of the prophet’ described in many theological constructs.

The Freed and the Scorned

The experience of the freed prisoner who returns to the Cave to free his fellow captors  is depicted in all three narratives; the Allegory of the Cave, 1984, and The Matrix.

In 1984  Emmanuel Goldstein (Emmanuel = God is with us, Goldstein = gold rock)  is a character who figuratively left the cave, or understood the Inner Party’s images were lies and attempted to get others to understand the institutional lies. Emmanuel is the supposed leader of the elusive Brotherhood in 1984, and is scorned, even hated by society. His attempt to enlighten his community to its captivity is met with disbelief,  resistance and scorn.

On-the-walls-of-the-cave-only-the-shadows-are-the-Truth-Plato-s-The-Allergory-of-The-Cave

The character of Winston Smith in 1984 is that of a person who attempts to leave the cave. He is privy to certain Inner Party lies and begins to question the Inner Party line  and seek alternate facts and perceptions. Winston’s end is not a happy one; akin to the return of the prisoner hypothesized in The Allegory of The Cave, he  attempts to leave the cave only to be shut in and beaten down – made to hold the party line by both prisoners and captors alike.

Similarly, today, individuals can transmute from dull repetitive ‘thought’ into ascended golden thinking, but as our minds are freed, one at a time, we ultimately find that our broader society is embedded with a series of norms and structures – of Matrices and Caves – that perpetuate false imagery, preserving the status quo from the ‘threat’ of  individual thinking.

Individuals and Institutions

Some fictional literature is so profound as to be relevant for decades (and centuries) and serves to expand humanity’s language and thought; its understanding of itself. George Orwell’s  1984 is one such literary work. It is a post WWII interpretation of the relationship between individuals and institutions, using the archetypal Allegory of the Cave.

The Allegory of the Cave, 1984 and The Matrix contain corresponding layers. Each explores a diabolical form of societal control; the control of thought through the presentation of selective information and images,  in combination with physical constraints of  strict surveillance and imprisonment. Sound familiar? In fact, the original title of 1984 was proposed as The Last Man in Europe. Certainly that is the way many of us feel – as if we are the last lone person – when we first become aware of lies and partial-truths that are presented as reality by those in control, and accepted in totality by seemingly everyone else.

George Orwell’s 1984 spawned new language for age-old structures of manipulation presented in the Allegory of the cave – the word “Orwellian” being one among many. This all-encompassing term is reflective of lies made to be truths, unlimited institutional surveillance, and logic so distorted as to not only convince the masses that two plus two equal five, but that war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength; and also to deny the very basic elements of nature… Just as we do today.

In reality, individual ignorance is strength to institutions. Everyone has their own personal caves and we are all figuratively held in larger societal caverns. Coming up with your own questions is the way get out of the cave and gain enlightenment. Questioning what seems like a lie, or an illusion in the cave, is the first step outside the cave.

The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall toward the earth’s center. With the feeling that he was speaking to… and setting forth an important axiom, he wrote: “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows”. ~  George Orwell’s 1984

Ethan Discusses ‘The Allegory of The Cave’ on Aquarian Radio

Click here  to listen to  Ethan discussing the Allegory of the Cave, and much more, with Janet and Sasha on the Planetary Oligarchy series (presented by Aquarian Radio).

About the Author

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:

For more information, visit Ethan on Facebook. (I follow him and enjoy his posts).

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon

The truth does not cease to exist when it is ignored.
You know how you can hear something a hundred times in a hundred different ways before it finally gets through to you? The ten truths listed below fall firmly into that category – life lessons that many of us likely learned years ago, and have been reminded of ever since, but for whatever reason, haven’t fully grasped.
10-painfully-obvious-truths
This, my friends, is my attempt at helping all of us, myself included, “get it” and “remember it” once and for all…

1. The average human life is relatively short. 

truthsWe know deep down that life is short, and that death will happen to all of us eventually, and yet we are infinitely surprised when it happens to someone we know. It’s like walking up a flight of stairs with a distracted mind, and misjudging the final step. You expected there to be one more stair than there is, and so you find yourself off balance for a moment, before your mind shifts back to the present moment and how the world really is.
LIVE your life TODAY! Don’t ignore death, but don’t be afraid of it either. Be afraid of a life you never lived because you were too afraid to take action. Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside you while you’re still alive. Be bold. Be courageous. Be scared to death, and then take the next step anyway.

2. You will only ever live the life you create for yourself. 

Your life is yours alone. Others can try to persuade you, but they can’t decide for you. They can walk with you, but not in your shoes. So make sure the path you decide to walk aligns with your own intuition and desires, and don’t be scared to switch paths or pave a new one when it makes sense.
Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. Be productive and patient. And realize that patience is not about waiting, but the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in. This is your life, and it is made up entirely of your choices. May your actions speak louder than your words. May your life preach louder than your lips. May your success be your noise in the end.
And if life only teaches you one thing, let it be that taking a passionate leap is always worth it. Even if you have no idea where you’re going to land, be brave enough to step up to the edge of the unknown, and listen to your heart. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3. Being busy does NOT mean being productive. 

Busyness isn’t a virtue, nor is it something to respect. Though we all have seasons of crazy schedules, very few of us have a legitimate need to be busy ALL the time. We simply don’t know how to live within our means, prioritize properly, and say no when we should.
Being busy rarely equates to productivity these days. Just take a quick look around. Busy people outnumber productive people by a wide margin. Busy people are rushing all over the place, and running late half of the time. They’re heading to work, conferences, meetings, social engagements, etc. They barely have enough free time for family get-togethers and they rarely get enough sleep. Yet, emails are shooting out of their smart phones like machine gun bullets, and their day planners are jammed to the brim with obligations. Their busy schedule gives them an elevated sense of importance. But it’s all an illusion. They’re like hamsters running on a wheel.
Though being busy can make us feel more alive than anything else for a moment, the sensation is not sustainable long term. We will inevitably, whether tomorrow or on our deathbed, come to wish that we spent less time in the buzz of busyness and more time actually living a purposeful life.

4. Some kind of failure always occurs before success.

Fail-Fail-Fail-Fail-SucceedMost mistakes are unavoidable. Learn to forgive yourself. It’s not a problem to make them. It’s only a problem if you never learn from them.
If you’re too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. The solution to this problem is making friends with failure. You want to know the difference between a master and a beginner? The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried. Behind every great piece of art is a thousand failed attempts to make it, but these attempts are simply never shown to us.
Bottom line: Just because it’s not happening now, doesn’t mean it never will. Sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. (Read The Success Principles.)

5. Thinking and doing are two very different things. 

Success never comes to look for you while you wait around thinking about it.
You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Knowledge is basically useless without action. Good things don’t come to those who wait; they come to those who work on meaningful goals. Ask yourself what’s really important and then have the courage to build your life around your answer.
And remember, if you wait until you feel 100% ready to begin, you’ll likely be waiting the rest of your life.

6. You don’t have to wait for an apology to forgive. 

Life gets much easier when you learn to accept all the apologies you never got. The key is to be thankful for every experience – positive or negative. It’s taking a step back and saying, “Thank you for the lesson.” It’s realizing that grudges from the past are a perfect waste of today’s happiness, and that holding one is like letting unwanted company live rent free in your head.
Forgiveness is a promise – one you want to keep. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. It has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime, and everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.

7. Some people are simply the wrong match for you. 

You will only ever be as great as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep bringing you down. You shouldn’t force connections with people who constantly make you feel less than amazing.
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable and insecure every time you’re with them, for whatever reason, they’re probably not close friend material. If they make you feel like you can’t be yourself, or if they make you “less than” in any way, don’t pursue a connection with them. If you feel emotionally drained after hanging out with them or get a small hit of anxiety when you are reminded of them, listen to your intuition. There are so many “right people” for you, who energize you and inspire you to be your best self. It makes no sense to force it with people who are the wrong match for you.

8. It’s not other people’s job to love you; it’s yours. 

love-yourself-1It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. So make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.
Today, let someone love you just the way you are – as flawed as you might be, as unattractive as you sometimes feel, and as incomplete as you think you are. Yes, let someone love you despite all of this, and let that someone be YOU. (Read Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It.)

9. What you own is not who YOU are. 

Stuff really is just stuff, and it has absolutely no bearing on who you are as a person. Most of us can make do with much less than we think we need. That’s a valuable reminder, especially in a hugely consumer-driven culture that focuses more on material things than meaningful connections and experiences.
You have to create your own culture. Don’t watch TV, don’t read every fashion magazine, and don’t consume too much of the evening news. Find the strength to fill your time with meaningful experiences. The space and time you are occupying at this very moment is LIFE, and if you’re worrying about Kim Kardashian or Lebron James or some other famous face, then you are disempowered. You’re giving your life away to marketing and media trickery, which is created by big companies to ultimately motivate you to want to dress a certain way, look a certain way, and be a certain way. This is tragic, this kind of thinking. It’s all just Hollywood brainwashing. What is real is YOU and your friends and your family, your loves, your highs, your hopes, your plans, your fears, etc.
Too often we’re told that we’re not important, we’re just peripheral to what is. “Get a degree, get a job, get a car, get a house, and keep on getting.” And it’s sad, because someday you’ll wake up and realize you’ve been tricked. And all you’ll want then is to reclaim your mind by getting it out of the hands of the brainwashers who want to turn you into a drone that buys everything that isn’t needed to impress everyone that isn’t important.

10. Everything changes, every second. 

Embrace change and realize it happens for a reason. It won’t always be obvious at first, but in the end it will be worth it.
What you have today may become what you had by tomorrow. You never know. Things change, often spontaneously. People and circumstances come and go. Life doesn’t stop for anybody. It moves rapidly and rushes from calm to chaos in a matter of seconds, and happens like this to people every day. It’s likely happening to someone nearby right now.
Sometimes the shortest split second in time changes the direction of our lives. A seemingly innocuous decision rattles our whole world like a meteorite striking Earth. Entire lives have been swiveled and flipped upside down, for better or worse, on the strength of an unpredictable event. And these events are always happening.
However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing you can count on. So when life is good, enjoy it. Don’t go looking for something better every second. Happiness never comes to those who don’t appreciate what they have while they have it.
Your turn…
What else would you add to this list? What important life lessons do you often forget? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Authors:  Marc and Angel Hack Life

 

Source: RiseEarth.