The picture above illustrates Plato's Allegory of the Cave from his most famous dialogue, The Republic. Basically, this concept was the underlying theme to the Matrix Trilogy. If you haven't seen the films or didn't realize the connection, I suggest watching them. Especially the second film, my favorite, Matrix: Reloaded. There are four amazing scenes/conversations from that movie that I credit to really opening up my mind to think in a much more philosophical manner. Anyhow, I am not here to discuss the movie, but if you have some interesting takes on the trilogy, please share.
Once I realized the connection between the theory of the cave and the films, it was natural to apply both to my own life (to our lives). In the image, the world (prisoners) is witnessing mere shadows of the truth, and the "Ascent to Sunlight" is our way to the "real truth." I feel Plato's Theory of Forms can also be applied within this illustration. The shadows on the wall can be thought of as "representations" of the "real form." For example, if you thought of a chair, you can come up with many different styles, or representations. But all versions would have certain similar characteristics that came from the true form of a chair thus qualifying each style or representation as a chair. I concede that the idea of "real" truths and forms is quite out there especially since we cannot witness this reality "here." I can just imagine what is being said by the ones that follow the "I'll believe it when I see it" approach. However, during recent years and events, I have realized certain patterns that have increased the possibility, at least in my mind, of our reality being very similar to the one in the picture. Furthermore, I think this world has within it, several realities due to the differences in the forms of the same ideas that human kind lives by.
Imagine asking the following question to individuals in any part of this world. "Can you explain how you feel when you think of joy, loss, happiness, pain, or love?" The range of answers would not vary too much from one another, therefore formulating a somewhat "universal" explanation of such feelings. Now, follow this up with the question, "Can you explain what causes you to experience these feelings?" This time, the answers you get will be quite different for a variety of reasons. Realities in this world are different due to the variations of cultures and lifestyles, and thus resulting in very different answers (means) for similar goals (ends). Now, in the specific reality (culture) that we live in, I think we are focusing too much on the differences of the means instead of focusing on the similarities of the ends that we share. And if you apply the theory of forms to those means, it would mean that no one mean is more right than another. Each mean shares a part of the "real" mean in order to accomplish the end. And if you were to analyze the different means, and learn to accept them to a certain extent, I feel you will get a better grasp of the "real" and bigger truth even though the theory says we cannot fully understand that here. And that very well may be true, but I like to believe that we can get closer and closer to the real truth while we live our lives on this earth if we just try.