In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Socrates describes our world as a shadow. Everything we touch and feel seems real, but it’s a pale reflection of the truth – much like living in a black and white 2D TV. No depth, no color, no actual truth.
In Plato’s cave, the people are chained. They are only able to see shadows on the wall reflected from the fire behind them. They take these shadows to be reality, since that’s all they can perceive. Plato suggested that our perception of reality is similar. We see only reflections of the truth as we are chained in a shadow world. Yet, just behind this reflected reality is a vast world of color and depth.
We are not in chains. We are free to use our intuition, imagination, and insights to see the truth – that we are one with spirit, that existence is vast, and that we are eternal beings.
In late December of 2012, I was suffering from the physical effects of years of alcoholism. In the emergency room, I experienced respiratory failure. In the attempt to save my life, clean my system, and nourish my body back to health, the doctors put me into a drug-induced coma for three and a half weeks. They performed a tracheotomy, put me on a ventilator, and hooked me up to tubes. The wise doctors brought me through magnificently.
Then I experienced two and a half weeks of delusion, a normal response when the brain reboots from a coma. The delusions were not like dreams. They were as vivid as any reality I’ve experienced. I didn’t suspect they were delusions until my son began to point out the inconsistencies in the events I believed to be happening, He convinced me they were not actually happening.
In my deluded state, people visited me who were not actually there. I imagined relationships – both good and bad – with the healthcare professionals around me. I had wonderful experiences, I had frightening experiences – much like life – exactly like life.
When the delusions ceased, it merely seemed that the current delusion had started to last longer than the previous delusions. It took me days to trust the final delusion that we call life. And I haven’t really come to trust it since, for now I learned that delusions can seem perfectly real.
Reality is consciousness – consciousness is reality. Yet that’s not entirely true. There is an actual truth behind our world. Behind this shadow of reality, there is an eternal truth that is not subject to distortion either in consciousness or in what we call reality. That truth is that we are one with spirit. We have always been one with spirit. We always will be one with spirit.
The Christ said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Yes, we are in heaven; we just can’t see it fully from here. We can’t comprehend or perceive correctly what is before us. Yet, spirit is right here, closer than anything – as close as breath.
There is nothing else that’s real except for the presence of spirit. Once we realize we are one with spirit, the false vision of the world and the false self can begin melt away. They already have. The delusion cannot hide the reality that our true awakening is present. That truth is not to be waited for; it is right here.
Most of us believe we have to die to reach heaven. We are already in heaven. We may have trouble seeing it, accepting it, but it’s here. The kingdom is at hand. It’s not far away; it’s not in some other world. It’s apparent now. We do not have to die. As the Christ said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Not outside you, not held away until you die, but within you. Within you always, now and forever.