I know that there are chains. I can feel them and here them and at times I can taste them. There seems not another living soul but me who can notice these chains- but I will not allow their limited perception to make me mad. I know that the chains are there and not a single soul can change my mind. No spiritual guru or psychotherapist can convince me that there is no shackle wrapped around my ankles and no chains dragging behind my feet. They are there and this is an unarguable fact- but what can be done about this “condition” is certainly up for discussion.
I only confess this “condition” of mine because I have notice that I share it with my fellow human kind. Every place I go and upon every one I know I can see these shackles and chains dangling from wrists, ankles and sometimes neck. The individual who is wrapped in chains seems seldom to realize that they are walking around with a great weight. Rather they stay distracted by preoccupations that seems to anesthetize any feeling of physical bondage. Is not this the role of modern technological gadgets (television, ipods, computers, cars and on and on), to make us numb? I am uncertain what is to be done, because when I talk about my chains with colleagues over coffee- I receive nothing but a blank stare that seems to suggest that I may be crazy. The more time I spend at work or thinking about the world- the more I can feel the weight of my chains.
I am not the first to mention this “condition.” The French religious philosopher Pascal did so as well. He wrote “we live between the weight of shackles, seldom aware that they restrict not only our physical bodies but also our spiritual aspirations.” I have visited with many spiritual counselors and healers in regards to my “condition.” I have been counseled by the best and the answer is always the same. “Yes, we live in chains- but it is the physical body which is contained. We can choose to be free in our thought by not getting attached to anything, by remaining free from thought.” How can I not think? This is the question that I always ask. I love thinking and trying to understand the nature of existence is what I do for a living (unpaid). I have worked hard to develop the quality of thoughts that I have- even if they often cause me a great deal of suffering. I have refined my thoughts by reading and writing religiously. Thought is the one great enjoyment that I indulge in every day. How I am supposed to live without thoughts when thought is the one thing that makes me feel civilized?
“Do not attach to your thoughts. Do not identify with your thoughts- just let them pass away into the universe. Everything is impermanent…even your shackles and chains,” one spiritual guru told me when I went out to his farm for an hour session. I spent over a hundred dollars to be counselled in how to break free from my thoughts. “It is your thought that creates the chains and it is your thoughts that can set you free,” were his final words to me. Granted, when I left the farm I felt lighter- less inconvenienced by my chains. I was out of the city, in nature and for the first time in a while I felt as if I could breathe. I was confused by what I was told by the spiritual guru- but I ascertained a glimmer of hope that I could be free. The moment I walked through the front door of my home and saw a credit card bill, phone bill, and insurance bill awaiting me upon my table- the great weight returned. I felt the chains slowly wrapping themselves around my wrists and ankles like a serpent. They worked their way up towards my neck and threatened to cut off my oxygen. As I walked towards the bathroom I kept on telling myself “do not think about it, do not think!!”- but my attempts were futile because the loud sound of the chains dragging along on the hardwood hallway floor convinced me that they are real.