In the “Allegory of the Cave”, we see an example of people seeing “through the glass dimly.” Plato describes a group of people in a cave since their childhood, chained so that they cannot move their heads. I could not picture this until I saw the illustration, but imagine a fire behind the people, casting shadows on the wall in front of them. There is also a walkway and animals, people and things are carried along between the fire and the wall in front of the prisoners.
All these people know of the world are the shadows on the wall in front of them. In fact, they may not even know that there is a world outside of those shadows. All they can see – all they can know – are the flickering shadows on the wall in front of them.
Imagine that one of these prisoners is set free. He stands up and turns around, seeing the fire for the first time. This is the first time he sees the direct flame and he is blinded. At first, before his eyes grow accustomed to the light, the objects that cast the shadows seem unreal – less real than the shadows. He rebels – this is not what he is used to!