Question: How can I be liberated from bondage?
Acharya Prashant: Let me start with the story of a monkey. There was a monkey who had been chained since birth. Some people even say that the monkey was born with a chain. We don’t know about that. But what we know is, that the monkey had been chained since birth.
The monkey now says, “I want to get rid of the chain.” But because the monkey had been chained since birth, it had developed a strong attachment to the chain. So strong is the attachment that he had started thinking that the chain is one of his hands. So he would say, “I have two hands, two legs, and I also have a third hand here, the one which is tied to my neck.”
Now the monkey asks, “Why can’t I go beyond this limited area?”
The monkey has grown young. The monkey says, “The world looks wide and big. I must be able to go everywhere. There are these trees, and there are these juicy fruits, and I can have them. Why must I be limited?” The monkey now says, “I must be free of bondage.”
What is the monkey now trying to do? He says, “I must be free.” and ‘I’ means ‘me,’ which is my body . . .
Listener: And the chain . . .
AP: And my three hands. There is no chain. What chain are you talking about? There are only three hands. There is no chain. He says, ‘I’ have to be free of bondage. And what is this ‘I’? The face, the abdomen, the legs, the tail, and the three hands.” All the three hands must be free of bondage. “Wherever I go, I must carry all my three hands.” And the monkey says, “‘I’ must be free of bondage.”
What is the definition of ‘I’? The body which comprises of the three hands.
The monkey is trying to be free even today. The monkey is trying to be free till this day. It’s a very ancient monkey. Since millions of years, it is trying to be free. It is not succeeding. And now, because it is struggling since eons, it has become desperate. It is weeping all the time. This tragedy is unbearable for the monkey. It’s even prepared to die, with all its three hands.
What is the mistake that the monkey is making?
L1: He is considering that chain as his hand.
AP: He is considering the chain as his hand. His definition of ‘I’ includes the chain which he is thinking of as his hand.
Can this ‘I’ ever be liberated? Is there any way this ‘I’ can be free of bondage? This ‘I’ itself is the bondage. And you are asking, “How can ‘I’ be liberated from bondage?”
Look closely at what you consider yourself as.
What does the monkey consider himself? An animal with three hands. You ask yourself, “What do I consider myself as?” Till the time you are a budding engineer, a family member, a young man, or whatever, there is no way you can be free of bondage. Because this ‘I’ itself is the bondage.
Someone had said, “You are not the diseased, you are the disease. You are not sick, you are the sickness.”
What’s your own self-concept? Look at that. That self-concept itself is your bondage.
Usually when a young man like you says, “I want to be free,” by this what you imply is, that you want freedom from parental authority, you want freedom from the authority of the college, the institution, and you want freedom from the authority of the society. Right? That is what you usually mean.
L2: I want freedom from tensions and worries.
AP: Yes, but you do not realize that all these tensions come to somebody. You are holding on to that identity very dearly. Who is tense? The son is tense. Who is tense? The class topper is tense. You want to retain that identity, but you want to get rid of the tension, without realizing that the identity itself is the tension.
Who is tense? The class topper is tense. Now if you are the class topper, you are under pressure to maintain your position. That is the reason why you are so tense. But you want to remain a class topper, and yet not be tense. Impossible!
The monkey wants to have all the three hands, and yet be free. He will have to give up the third hand. The third hand is not him.
The monkey had only three; you have thirty thousand. How can you be free?
On one hand you say, “I want to be a wonderful friend and have a good reputation in college.” You want people to say, “He’s the one who can do anything for his friends,” and on the other hand you also don’t want to take tension. How is it possible? Is it possible to protect both your reputation and also be tension free?
You want to be the ideal boyfriend. “I gift two bottles of deodorants to my girlfriend every week.” (I don’t know how much she stinks.) Now, you want to gift two expensive bottles of deodorant to your girlfriend every week, and yet don’t want to take the worry of earning. Is it possible? If you want to gift two bottles worth rupees two thousand, then you will also have to earn those two thousand rupees. So there will be tension! Or you may have to steal, or borrow, or beg.
All identities come at the cost of your freedom.
“I want to be a wonderful son.” And what does that mean? Fulfill all the expectations. You want to be called a wonderful son; you want to be called Raja Ramchandra, the son of Dhashrath, and yet you do not want to take the pressure of meeting expectations. Is that possible? To be called a wonderful son implies that you’ll have to do all that the parents’ wish.
So go to the jungle for fourteen years. And there are no resorts there. So you can’t go to hotel booking websites and do a booking for fourteen years!
“Jungle resort . . . coming with my wife, and one kid brother, who can be given a separate room. And because it’s a long-term stay, so give us a lot of discount.”
That’s not possible. You have taken it upon yourself that you will protect your identity of being a wonderful son. Now do then, what they want you to do.
You are the monkey who is holding on to the third hand.
You are asking for the impossible. You are saying, “I want to be free, and yet I want to retain my identities.”
“I am the ideal father.” Now go and deposit twenty thousand rupees per month for your daughter’s dowry. Because in our mind, that is what being an ideal father mean. You want to be the ideal father and yet you don’t want to earn or deposit anything. Impossible!
Who is the ideal father? The one who has three fixed deposits in the bank, in the name of his daughter. And that is the expression we use for the daughter’s wedding, “I will marry her off.”
Such a degrading expression, ‘marry-her-off’ or ‘marry her away’. And you say, “I love my daughter.” Seriously?
“I am relentlessly searching for the Truth,” and then you don’t want to be tense. Is that possible?
“Who am I? A seeker of joy.” Now, joy is not to be found. If you are a seeker of joy, the only thing that you will get is tension, because joy is very evasive. Here and there it hides. So there is only tension. Third hand, fourth hand, fifth hand, everywhere there is only tension.
You will get rid of tension only when you get rid of everything that you are not.
Till the time you have attachment to ‘this and that,’ you are attached not to ‘this and that’, but to tension.
Do you think that you are attached to the deodorant? No you are not attached to the deodorant, you are attached to the tension.
What are you attached to? Tell us about your third and fourth hands.
L2: (Stays mum)
See. The ancient monkey, he will not admit that he is attached. He will say, “I am not attached. They are just my three hands! Why are you saying that I am attached? I am not attached. I was born with three hands!”
– Excerpts from a Clarity session held at Advait Sthal.
Watch the session at: You are not diseased, you are the disease
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 1: Can one be related without attachment?
Article 3: It is deep bondage to live in differences