A Prison without Walls
To tame the most Powerful Animal
Consider how humans have devised a way to tame the most powerful land animal on the planet - the elephant. They start by securing a baby elephant firmly with a strong rope and a sturdy stake driven deep into the ground. The baby elephant struggles to break free, but struggle as it will, it cannot escape its bonds. The young elephant eventually tires and gives up trying. Thereafter, as soon as it reaches the end of its rope, it goes no further. It has been trained always to think that it cannot break free of its bounds; its spirit has been broken.
As elephant grows it becomes stronger, while the rope becomes thinner and the stake smaller. Yet every time the elephant meets resistance from the end of the rope, it stops. It thinks it can go no further because it has been trained not to try to break free. Eventually the elephant reaches full size and, having learned the behavioral lessons of infancy so well; it can be easily restrained by only a thin rope and a tiny stake. It has long given up trying to break free of its bonds of captivity.
Dismay dawns upon me when I realize that I share the same fate as the elephant restrained the thin rope and tiny stake. Having been conditioned by society, I cannot break free. Superficially, I understand that my sense of self-worth should not be dependent on my wealth, influence or position in society. And yet … why is it, I find that I cannot let it go? Who am I really, if I were to give up my qualifications, wealth and possessions? Would I cease to exist without these societal trappings?
When the Water Vessel is full
‘You’re just so full of yourself!’
Pride, ego, conceit – I have been guilty of all these unskillful thoughts and much more. If I cannot empty my vessel of all these pre-conceived notions and dogmas, how can I find the Truth? I strive to do so, in vain. For I cherish my past accomplishments too much, I am too infatuated with possessions and value the opinions of others too greatly.
The Ultimate Teacher
And yet … the specter of Death looms in front of me. It makes a mockery of my life and struggle to find meaning. For a sage once uttered to me this:
‘Ripples on the water like the passing of years. Man enters life and there is a splash. His life sends out ripples—small ripples for a little man, huge waves for a great man—waves that overwhelmed the tiny ripples, wash them away or remold them. But in the end it is all the same, for the ripples go out into the lake of life and soon die away, to leave the lake smooth for new lives or stones.’
An Unknown Sojourn
I hesitate …
I deliberate …
Minutes passes into hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades …
For over four millennia, the game of Go has been played, yet Kami no Itte has yet to be revealed. What more of Life? There can be no conclusion as to the meaning of life. Perhaps, it is the journey I take through life that will define the meaning of MY life.
If I may be so bold to ask: What is the purpose of your life?