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Actually, we’ve been putting ourselves in chains since beginning of human existence. In Hindu philosophy (and many would agree that Hinduism and Buddhism are more like philosophies than religions), there are many allusions to illusion. My favorite is story of Narada and maya, or “illusion” (although I personally prefer alternate definition of maya as “creative power”).
Narada was a great sage who came to Vishnu. In Hinduism, there are three aspects of Brahma, or godhead: Brahma is creator, Vishnu is preserver, and Shiva is destroyer of evil. So, one day, Narada asks Vishnu, “What is secret of maya?” Vishnu promptly throws him in a pool.
As soon as he enters water, Narada becomes a princess born to a wealthy family, and as such, he experiences entire life of little girl. She ends up marrying a prince and going to live with him in his kingdom. They become fabulously wealthy, but then their kingdom is attacked and everything is destroyed. The prince is killed, and princess, as a dutiful mourning wife, throws herself on funeral pyre of her cremated husband. This is considered ultimate act of self-sacrifice. Suddenly, Narada wakes up to find that he is being pulled out of pool by Vishnu. At that moment, Vishnu asks him, “For whom are you weeping?”
This is whole concept of illusion in a nutshell. We are caught up in a story that seems so skillful and perfect that we can’t help but believe that it is real.
Young children start asking questions about things like color of sky or shapes between branches, and we direct their attention to whatever we feel is more significant. They quickly learn what is expected, what is important, what is common in our understanding of world. After a while, we each forget perspective we’d had when everything was a wonder. And before we know it, we’ve got a life full of ideas, habits, beliefs and stories that we share with countless others.
Of course, then we wake up one morning around age 40 and start questioning everything. Well, there’s no sense sticking to that time-honored schedule. You can start questioning anytime!
In fact, your best bet is to recognize right off that this whole thing is one big fantastic charade. Recognize it, laugh at it, celebrate it, and keep an eye on that cave exit. Better yet, sneak out there whenever you get a chance. You can always come back inside and hang out with your cavemates and watch those shadows on cave walls. It's safe. It'll always be there.
Prepare now to tiptoe outside. Break your chains. Shake your head enough times to loosen some of those stories that have been filling your mind for most of your life. And head for light outside cave.
What's out there? Plenty of philosophers just like you--those who have broken free and see world and reality in a whole new way. Life is rich, full, and more meaningful. Come join thinkers. There are plenty of us waiting to greet you!
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind masseuse. As a teacher, facilitator and mediator, she has been helping others engage their formidable frontal lobes since 1983. Her popular course, "Massage Your Mind!: Defining Your Life Philosophy", has inspired thinkers in over 60 countries around the world. Her free weekly e-zine, the Friday Mind Massage, is designed to ease you into a thoughtful weekend. To subscribe, visit http://www.massageyourmind.com today!