Plato’s Cave helps explain the idea that the human being is a microcosm of the macrocosm; that to understand reality, we need to understand ourselves. We embody all levels of reality within us. This connection with infinite Freedom is what makes us partly divine – there is God in us, just as God has man in him. In Christianity, God becomes man. Not as an all-conquering master, but as a servant of low social position who permits himself to be crucified, taking on the full extent of the tragedy and suffering of human existence.
Each person, each microcosm, is unique, and unrepeatable: this Person with his own consciousness and his own connection to meonic Freedom. Plato, on the other hand, mostly posited true existence in universals; abstractions and concepts: the Form of Beauty, of Justice, of Truth. In the Symposium, the novice loves the body, then realizes he loves the beauty of all bodies, and then all minds, and then Beauty itself, aside from all concrete instantiations. The spiritual and real is identified with the universal by Plato. However, it is the concrete and particular that is most real. There might be an idea of man in the mind of God, but this universal is only discovered in the particular man. It is the individual Person who has ultimate value, not the idea of the Person. The concrete Person is eternal and can no more cease to exist than God could.
There can be mystical experiences that seem to suggest a dissolution of individual consciousness and a merger with something that might be called Pure Awareness, but this should not be posited as an ultimate metaphysical reality. Mystical experiences cannot always be used to produce good philosophy. For love to exist, for instance, there must be two. The lover and the beloved. If nondual consciousness is posited as descriptive of the way things really are then, then love has been eliminated from the picture. God cannot be Love, without human beings – people to love. God cannot be the Creator, if creation has no real existence. Prayer and meditation might be the route to communing with God, where the mind is silenced and we “listen” by paying attention to all interior experience. But, this is similar to how we communicate or commune with anyone else. It is necessary to shut up to hear what the other Person is saying. If our minds follow their usual modus operandi of free association, one thought leading to another with no real direction, then how are we to hear God, if God is trying to communicate? Were we to hear the voice of God, to feel the presence of the living God, while meditating or praying, and even to merge with it, it does not mean “nondual” consciousness is more fundamental and real than the Person.
It might seem nice to figure out exactly how the individual consciousness is related to God and ultimate reality. Is there some spiritual stuff underlying everything and connecting everything? Is everything ultimately a giant Mind? These questions are an example of rationalistic empirical metaphysics, that apes the methods of science – a science of the spirit that more or less exactly parallels the approach of science to the physical realm. It takes Spirit as a substance; as an object. It treats the Freedom and interiority of Spirit as just another thing to be analyzed. It inappropriately imports the techniques of science developed to examine physical reality – the world of objects – into subjectivity. Spirit is found in subjective experience, not in objects. To label and catalog the Kingdom of God using concepts that apply to the Kingdom of Earth is to extend scientism into the realm of spirit. Scientism is the notion that only the techniques of science are truth-revealing; and nothing else is. But really, truth and knowledge are created by the human subject. They exist in the Person, whether a particular man’s or God’s. Knowledge, if it is to exist at all, exists in the Person. Were someone to see someone else’s soul body – their eternal heavenly form – and stare at the very (spiritual) matter out of which they are formed, they are not seeing the real person or communing with ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is the I/Thou relation; not the I/It. To commune with another Person, whether it be the Person of God, or a man, is an I/Thou relationship – my subject communicating and empathizing with another subject. The I/It relationship is subject meets object. Simply replacing spiritual objects with physical objects does not fundamentally change the I/It relationship. In I/Thou, my interior communes with your interior.