Plato’s ‘The Allegory of the Cave’ and music

Plato’s ‘The Allegory of the Cave’ and music

What have the writings of a 420 BCE philosopher got to do with how we all hear, feel and relate to music today?

As a musician of over 40 years professional experience who has had the extreme good fortune to meet Serge Benhayon, and to benefit from his extraordinary depth of wisdom and perception pertaining to all things relevant to humanity, its evolution and beyond, I am reminded of Plato’s ‘The Allegory of the Cave’, a parable that also shines the light of truth onto humanity’s relationship with music, even in this current time.

Most people’s relationship with music is a reflection of the experience of the inhabitants of Plato’s cave. In the allegory, people are chained in a cave so that they can only see the shadows that are cast on the walls of the cave by a fire that is behind them. To these people, the shadows represent the totality of their existence – it is impossible for them to imagine a reality that consists of anything other than these fuzzy shadows on the wall.

The analogy implies that all the drama and emotion that people feel in music, how it ignites memories and passion, nostalgia and anger, how musicians play and learn, work so hard for recognition for their craft, the competitions, the eisteddfods, the TV shows where ONE person ‘wins’, are all the fuzzy shadows on the wall.

What is being proposed is that within this ‘reality’ we cannot make the connection to what music truly is and can be. When this illusion is revealed and we step into the light of day, we realise how music can serve humanity rather than keep us entertained in our prison.

My experience of music has been radically changed and deepened directly due to my connection with Serge Benhayon. What I once considered to be my vast palette of perception and listening awareness, has now, with the re-awakening of the reality of the energetics of music, been revealed as a two-dimensional stilted narrow field of perception which could be likened to the true definition of ‘tunnel vision’, or . . . the shadows on the wall in Plato’s cave.

All the emotion, arrangements, compositions, harmonies, complexities, studying and practice inherent in music are merely a shadow on a wall if there is not an awareness of the energetic composition of music and performance. Whether we are aware of it or not, music has an energetic quality, a vibration that is tangible, that we feel regardless of the melody, harmony, composition and performance.

Then the second half of Plato’s allegory comes into play. He said that some prisoners may escape from the cave and go out into the light of the sun and behold true reality: when they return to the cave and try to tell the other captives the truth, they are mocked as lunatics. And this is indeed what it is like when one shines a light of awareness on ‘the shadows’ of any collective construct of illusion that serves to keep people from having full awareness of the interplay of the energy all around them … “The world is flat . . . and that is that!” And heaven help anyone who disagrees!

Furthermore, the mass delusion we suffer that the shadow world is the only possible reality, has given rise to a global state of play that can now only be described as grand scale chaos… a slow-motion train wreck. Diseases of affluence (obesity, diabetes, cancer) combined with rampant substance abuse (pharmaceutical, coffee, alcohol and banned drugs), threaten to bankrupt the treasuries of developed nations as all the while the poverty stricken countries are systematically looted of their resources – as if their inability to provide even the basics of life to their inhabitants were not already an intolerable burden. All this is glossed over with cheap and rampant nationalism in many guises.

Apart from the more obvious state chauvinism and war making, a constant parade of ‘World Cups’, Olympic Games and national competitions provide ‘bread and circus’ distractions that paper over the grim reality we face; a reality that we absurdly cling to when confronted by those who have ventured out of the cave, so we reject and drown out their voices that speak of another way of being and living.

We have lived in ‘Plato’s Cave’ for far too long, suppressing and silencing the voices of wisdom that seek to alert us to our plight. It is high time to consider, indeed as science is confirming now, that there is vastly more to the energetics of sound than meets the ear, just as there is far more to the energetics of life than meets the eye.

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WisdomIllusionAwarenessHumanityPhilosophyMusicEnergy in musicMusicians

  • By Chris James, Musician, Singer, Voice & Expression Teacher

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.