THE INNER PRISON
Stone: Blue Sapphire
The Mantra: Om Namah Shivaya
Almost everyone is a prisoner with his inner windows closed,
and suffocates in such narrow limits.
So very few become aware that they are in a prison just because it isn’t a physical one – psychologically
the prison is INSIDE US and we carry it along
wherever we may go.
deep within us we also have the Key to emerge from the dungeon
of all our conditionings into an ocean
of ecstasy and vision.
Are you aware that you have the Key within you?
If not, how will you become aware of it?
a) Sri Aurobindo introduces the issue:
The whole world aspires to freedom, and yet every creature
is in love with his own chains. This is the first paradox
and the inextricable knot of our nature.
And of your nature as well.
Where are our chains?
His answer is that
Our thoughts are our chains,
our desires the fetters.
As Einstein noted,
Although we are part of all that is we experience ourselves as if separated from all, which is like a kind of optical delusion our consciousness,
a prison limiting us to our superficial desires and cares for a few
people and things concerning us personally.
Pema Chodron agrees:
We experience ourselves as being
separate from the whole.
This separateness becomes like a prison for us – a prison that restricts us
to our personal hopes and fears, and to caring only
for the people nearest to us.
Over two thousand years ago Plato has already said that:
Man is a prisoner that cannot open the door of his prison and escape…
he must wait; he is not free to manage his life
until a god does not call him.
When do you expect that a god will call you?
How long may you have to wait?
Wittgenstein adds that:
A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked
and opens inwards as long as it does not occur to him
to pull rather than push.
What does to pull instead of pushing implies?
As Mère said,
One is shut up in a shell, and inside it something is happening,
like the chick in the egg…
And it is only when all is ready that there comes the capacity
to pierce the shell and to be born
in the light of day.
When do you reckon that you will be ready to break you shell?
How about right now?
b) Who made up such a prison?
According to Tagore it was YOU:
Prisoner who was it that wrought
this unbreakable chain?
`It was I,’ said he, `who forged this chain very carefully.
I thought my invincible power would hold the world captive
leaving me undisturbed and free. Thus night and day
with huge fires and cruel hard strokes I worked at this chain
and when at last the work was done,
the links complete, unbreakable,
I found that it held me in its grip.
Are the chain’s links really unbreakable?
But then why does it seem so?
What holds you in its grip?
Rumi said something similar:
To high and low this prayer he keeps repeating:
“Release me, release me, release me!”
Open his eyes and ears are, free from bonds is he,
no jailer watches him and no chains bind him;
what is then the bond from which release he asks?
From which prison an escape keeps seeking?
What is the bond from which release you ask?
From which prison are you seeking an escape?
Don’t be deceived.
Nisargadatta Maharaj adds that:
The people of the world prisoners are all
awaiting death on the stake of annihilation;
except one or two rare exceptions
whose bodies are in prison
but their souls in heaven.
c) The image that Saraha gave of it is so vivid:
Like confused thirsty deer into a mirage of water leaping in their ignorance to inane outer forms deluded fools cling; with their thirst unslaked, bound up,
trapped in a prison which they even idealize
Most do not even bother to pretend it.
One would expect that at least those who realize that they are trapped in the prison of their conditionings would desperately try to get out of it, but strangely this is not always so.
The most terrible thing is that
so many seem to be quite comfortable in their prison.
As Wu Hsin rightly said,
Not one is freed from their prison.Nothing gets a person
out of their prison because the person
is the prison.
But then who can ever become free of it?
Only the one that we really are under all
our personality’s masks.
Wu Hsin goes deeper into the issue:
One wants to escape one’s prison,
but one has not discerned that
the thinking that one is in prison
is the prison.
One’s world is private,
known only to oneself.
One has become so mesmerized with it that
one has incarcerated oneself.
You have dedicated decades
to building a prison for yourself.
Can you not find a few moments
to begin to tear it down?
If not, why not?
Don’t be deceived
You are driving a vehicle to go somewhere while thinking about something or other
and find suddenly yourself there with no memory at all of the last minutes.
You have been driving as if on automatic.
Whatever they may do, the vast majority pass their whole
lives thus, on automatic, or almost.
d) The inner prison in which some live may seem quite comfortable,
especially when they are doing something which some meaning, like for example artistic expression, social and altruistic endeavors, but even chains made of gold are still chains.
Unable to bear the emptiness and inanity of their surface being
most keep escaping from themselves into all sorts of inanities
which cannot really satisfy them, or not for long.
This is their prison.
To which extent you still do more or less the same thing?
The hardest prison to escape
IS OUR MIND,
the prison of our self-image, false identifications and conditionings
and we carry it along with us wherever we go.
Which are your main false identifications and conditionings?
How do they make you feel?
What will you do to become free of them?
No, saying “I don’t know” will not do at all.
Find it out.
Gary Zukav has a warning:
What you do not see within you,
you see outside of you.
The prison that you strive to dismantle in front of your eyes
mirrors the real prison behind your eyes
that holds you captive.
What will you DO about it?
e) The main chains imprisoning us, even more than the external ones
of our external circumstances, our work, family commitments, a difficult financial situation, etc, but more subtle ones in our mind which often are not so easy to see.
And yet we could be free right here and now, for none
keeps us in our own prison
How did this come to pass?
Let us repeat it once more:
The hardest prison to escape
IS OUR MIND.
Until we have done a certain amount of work on ourselves, we cannot be free but are completely, or almost completely dominated, pushed around in all sorts of directions by our conditionings from the past,
which bring about all our beliefs, attractions and repulsions, superficial strivings and anxieties, thus determining the course of our life
from the cradle to the grave.
When the Kabuli was asked to intercede in favor of a Turkish dervish who was a true Believer who greatly suffered because he had been put in prison under false accusations the Kabuli said that He would intercede on his behalf with the Sheik, but added that:
Until he is only concerned about the external prison made of stone and mortar while ignoring the one within himself I may as well go fly a kite
for all the good that it will do to him!
What does this tell you?
Unless we have already done a lot of work on ourselves,
We remain enclosed in the prison of our mind, the total sum of all our thoughts, emotions and desires, routines and attitudes, habits and behavioral patterns, and then
most of what we do day by day covers up
and hides our true Self,
obscuring its light under a veil which in most becomes an almost impenetrable like the heavy iron armors mediaeval knights wore:
this is the prison in which we are like puppets pulled by invisible
threads, and what is secretly pulling them
are the forces of our life.
Who else did you think was pulling the threads?
Ha ha ha ha!
As Wu Hsin noted,
The one who considers himself
to be free
The one who considers himself
to be bound
The only real prison
is the mental one.
The Devil’s Advocate:
Fortunately for us, so few ever realize that they live in a psychological prison of their own making, and even most of those who are somewhat aware of it see no way out of it and therefore just ignore it, put it out of their minds.
Indeed the so called “messiahs” of our opponent have shown a way out of it, but my client, the Deceiver, makes most humans believe that it is far too arduous for them to become free, just about impossible, or that they aren’t worthy enough to!
When that doesn’t work my client has a further deception: he influences them to tell themselves that they will surely do it – but not right now, only when the time is right, when their children have grown up, when they finally retire and have more time for themselves and so forth!
But of course by then is almost always too late.
To emerge from the inner prison one must see it as it really is and no longer indulge, like most seekers do, in the illusion of being already free or anyhow they very soon will be.
Until you keep pursuing one external thing after another
how could you ever be free?
Words of Power:
In our original nature there is nothing which can limit
or constrain us in any way.
“Why do you remain in your prison when
wide open is the door?” Rumi
Please try to answer Rumi’s question before reading on.
Just reading it will not to bring you very far.
This morning I could not avoid visiting my poor uncle Angelo, a man who had always been dominated by the fat virago of his wife, worked hard all his life but never had any fun and now he had developed a tumor in the anus and everyone but him knows that will soon die.
The hospital, called the San Giovanni, is in an old building tall ceilings but small windows letting very little light in and infinitely depressing wards in the shape of a cross in whose this penumbra decrepit old nuns with sad, bored and despondent faces move slowly around slowly checking that the hospital’s many rules are strictly observed; I felt a bit ill just walking in.
Poor Angelo has recently retired and for the first time in his miserable life dared to oppose his wife, who wanted that they moved to her native town of Modena while he preferred to remain in Turin.
When I arrived his wife was shouting:
“Anyhow now you are crapping out at last, you stupid idiot, and I WILL move to Modena! So there!”
After she left in a tiff poor Angelo complained that in his ward there was no TV, didn’t say anything about his wife’s behavior and then confided to me the dream of his life: in Italy there is a game called bocce, mostly played by old men, which consists on throwing heavy balls as close as possible to a smaller one, the target, and trying to knock off your opponent balls if they are close to it. His dream was:
“Well, now I am retired, you know, so if I get better on Sundays I could go and watch people play bocce…”
Not even play it, just watch it.
If there had ever been any chance that I would have had a so called “normal” life with a regular job, well, that definitely tore it!
I barely managed not to tell him:
Look, man, if that’s all you have to live for
you’re better off dying!
From “The Quest”
Looking at the condition of those who came to our healing center, I remembered a SF novelette which read as a teenager in which an evil despot had installed a microchip in the brain of his subjects and through it controlled not only their actions and general behavior but also all their thoughts and emotions.
I then realized that
this is exactly what was done to all of us, not by an external despot
but by Maya, the Great Illusion.
Question/Ko’han 1 to 3:
To which extent are you aware of your own Inner Prison?
Are you afraid to look at it?
If yes, have you asked yourself WHY?
Every seeker is like a mighty warrior kept prisoner by a magician
who has no real power over him but tricked him
into believing himself powerless.
What about YOU?
If you keep going from an identification, a desire to another, always projected in the future or regretting the past,
you will forever remain a prisoner
of your mind.
Are you still going from an identification, a desire to another?
Nathaniel Hawthorne asked:
What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer
so inexorable as one’s self!
Shouldn’t he have said: as dark as one’s own MIND?
Franz Kafka said that it is often safer to be in chains than to be free, but it only SEEMS so.
Why does it seem so?
Eric Hoffer has the last word:
There is a totalitarian regime
inside every one of us.
We are ruled by a ruthless politburo which sets our norms and drives us from one five-year plan to another.
The autonomous individual who has to justify his existence
by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.
How did this come to pass?
What can one do about it?
1) Meditate on this passage of the Ashtavarka Ghita
Bondage is when the mind longs for something, grieves about something, rejects something, holds on to something, is pleased about something
or displeased about something.
Bondage is when the mind is tangled in one of the senses, and liberation is when the mind is not tangled in any of them.
When there is no ‘me’ that is liberation, and when
there is ‘me’ there is bondage.
Considering this earnestly, do not hold on and do not reject anything.
The essential nature of bondage is nothing other than desire, and its elimination is known as liberation.
It is simply by not being attached to changing things that
the everlasting joy of attainment is reached.
2) Meditate also on these words of Vivekananda:
We are constantly doing things against
the better side of our nature,
and afterwards we upbraid ourselves for so doing and wonder what we could have been thinking of, how we could do such a thing!
Yet again and again we do it, and again and again we suffer for it and upbraid ourselves.
At the time, perhaps, we think we desire to do it, but we only desire it
because we are forced to desire it.
We are forced onward, we are helpless! We are all slaves to our own and to everybody else’s mind; whether we are good or bad, that makes no difference.
We are led here and there because we cannot help ourselves. We say we think, we do, etc. It is not so. We think because we have to think. We act because we have to.
We are slaves to ourselves and to others.
Deep down in our subconscious mind are stored up all the thoughts
and acts of the past, not only of this life,
but of all other lives we have lived.
1) These verses from The Quest:
…so many lives, strivings, sorrows, joys and deaths,
conflicting strivings, uncontrollable cravings
in vicious circles through the labyrinth
of my days drive me still:
a prisoner am I, by old, weary nightmares haunted
I can no longer even remember,
in a mind’s vacant spaces drifting drenched with the stars’ vertigo,
the dumbness of inanimate things, a self-enclosed dimension
of flightless birds, perfume-less flowers, loveless hearts…
Alas, on far too many tangled threads
a puppet am I still as well,
by sleepwalkers surrounded in a daze
stumbling all around, loud, demanding, and I
until so recently one of them
as but empty masks see them all now,
of some hidden Design symbols and facets all
but whose meaning keeps eluding me…
2) These words of the Yoga Vashista:
The mind is entrapped in the net of its own desires
as the silk worm is entwined in the cocoon
by the thread of its own making.
The world is a prison house where everyone is a prisoner with the burden of his body.
The bones are the bars of this dungeon, the head its roof, the skin its leather; and the blood and flesh of the body are as the drink and food of the imprisoned.
The notion “I am this” is the only slavery
Bondage consists in our belief of the reality of the apparent world, therefore
our release depends on negating its appearances.
Are you negating its appearances?
To which extent?
3) These verses of Wu Hsin:
Man is the one who is insane:
His solution to his need of security is to
lock himself away in a prison.
What could be more secure
than a prison?
He passes his time in a solitary cell called “me”
believing that he is now safe and that
no other can harm him,
he has exchanged freedom
What is outside
The walls of the prison is the unknown,
possibly not secure,
at times hostile and
not at all predictable.
Yet what sane man would choose
prison over freedom?
A prisoner I used to be, a puppet by invisible wires
moved around, so unaware that all doors
forever closed only in my own mind were.
How did I find my freedom then? OoooooM!