The Thinking Poet


The Childhood State Page 2


 My thesis concerning our two modes of awareness is as old as thought itself.

I was reminded of this fact this morning when reading my lent book. Reverend Gerard W. Hughes writes about Plato’s cave analogy:

 “Plato, in his “Republic,  has a wonderful description of our human state. He imagines a cave, and we are all facing the wall. Behind us is a fire. And between us and the fire someone is throwing shadows on the cave wall. We see only the shadows, and consider them to be the whole of reality. The philosopher’s task, Plato believed, was to deliver human beings from the shadows and lead them out into the real world.

Jesus came to deliver us from darkness into the light.”

 My thesis parallels this. We live in the cave of our “neural map”. We see and think only the consequences of our ego (“someone throwing shadows”) reviving symbolic traces of what has been embedded in the cortex. We take the effect of this excitation as “the whole reality”.

 What then is the equivalent of being led out into the real world? In contrast to the darkness of the cave, which metaphorically is the darkness of symbolic neural play, there is the light of “intuitive knowing”, that ecstatic experience that does not involve the mediation of  word or thought.

 But how are we to escape the “imprisoning power of symbolic awareness”? How are we to be rescued from our fixed posture, facing the wall and resisting any effort to tear us away from the complacency of an avowed “reality”? We cannot rescue ourselves from our plight. We require to be delivered from our darkness. For Christians Jesus Christ is the deliverer, but the crucial fact remains that the captive must wish to be rescued. We must be tired of shadows, of symbols that mock, and of the ego that mocks. We must long for the artist’s sensibility and the innocence of the infant. We must feel without thought again. We must love.

 We are not left in a passive vacuum; we are left with an urgent invitation to be creative in whatever ways are given to us:

 “Unless you become like little children you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.

 This is not a prohibition – no one is barred from the Kingdom of Heaven - it is an indication to us of the state in which the Kingdom of Heaven is experienced.



I note that yesterday I managed to make a connection between my “The map is not the territory explored”, and Plato’s cave analogy. This morning, when reading 1 Cor.13, that lovely hymn to agape I noticed yet another connection.

Now I see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; Then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  NIV translation.

The Childhood State Page 3