The reality is that none of us is neither imprisoned nor trapped. Even when the cage surrounds us and the key is cast away the illuminated reality is that we are only confined as long as we allow ourselves to be. It is the hardest lesson to learn and the hardest lesson to live. Daily we confine ourselves and it is only through our choices that this is so.
The physical manifestation of this lesson comes with jail time. This is also the manifestation of the lesson that would most easily be used to counter the thesis I have presented. A man commits a crime. He is caught. He is arrested, tried, and sent to prison. He is now both imprisoned and trapped. Or is he? How did he get to the point of imprisonment? He made a choice, took an action, and the action had consequences. This is known as cause and effect. In physics this is represented by Newton’s Law that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
The case, as presented by our criminal, is an interesting one as we define his imprisonment by his inability to leave the prison grounds. What if we changed our perception of the definition of imprisonment and redefined it by stating that imprisonment removes the individual’s right to self-determination? In my experience the individual challenged with this new definition will continue to argue several cases, including jail time, where the individual has had his right to self-determination removed. I would argue that this right can never properly be removed under any circumstances and this has been proven time and again.
People born without limbs become super models. Others scarred in horrific accidents end up making major contributions to society. Scientists with debilitating diseases that limit both mobility and speech end up making phenomenal discoveries. Had they believed in the confines placed upon them they could not have made these huge leaps. In this way the prison becomes the very tool to the freedom so longed for!
Again we look at the criminal placed in prison. He has had certain limits placed upon him. In many ways these are very similar to limits we place on ourselves. He is limited to a specific area in which he can travel within and often we limit ourselves to a certain area due simply to our own perceived levels of comfort. If you travel from home to work and back to home only to play video games, read, listen to music then how are you any different from the prisoner? The difference is that the prisoner knows where his walls are. Regardless our prisoner has an opportunity set forth before him. He can wallow away his time until release where he will likely choose cause and effect placing him right back in prison or he can transcend his prison by utilizing his new circumstances to affect real internal growth. He chooses to read, to write, to learn a new trade or skill. His walls no longer represent imprisonment but rather opportunity. He chose imprisonment and, once their, chose freedom.
On a spiritual level this is represented through the gnostic myth of the Christos (the sacred masculine) and the Sophia (the sacred feminine). The Sophia descends from the spiritual world into the material in order to learn what it is like to experience the world in physical form. She forgets her divine nature and thus begins to feel trapped. The Christos descends and reminds Her of Her divine nature. Thus the two return to the upper realms and return fullness and completion to Heaven.
We, as humans, often forget our divinity and place artificial constructs around us limiting our very own freedoms. Occasionally we place blame either on ourselves or others. We suggest that because we put ourselves in this situation of entrapment that we are either stuck or deserve to be stuck. We can subtly blame others by stating that freedom means someone else has to suffer in order for us to be free. In this way we suggest that our freedom imprisons another. Again I reiterate the thesis that we are never truly imprisoned. Your choice for freedom most certainly produces a cause and effect moment for those around you. However every action produces those moments. In the case of our interpersonal relationships we are simply providing the other with an opportunity to seek out their own freedom. It is up to them to choose the the method of their cause and effect — suffer and create a new prison or learn, grow, and accept freedom.
Another artificial construct we create for ourselves is trauma and illness. The cause and effect nature of trauma may look something like this — an abuse occurs, distrust is learned, life events moving forward are limited by that distrust, happiness dissipates, life ends. Many people who feel trapped in this cycle create a vicious cycle of blame wherein the abuse is to blame for their disorder, their disorder is to blame for their actions, and their actions are to blame for their abandonment. This is a prison as much as the criminal’s jail cell is. This must be broken, though with great difficulty, by recognizing that we are limiting ourselves and creating our own prison and that we are worth more than this regardless of what our abusers and detractors suggest.
We are the only ones who have the ability to free ourselves. The key lies not in the destruction of artificial constructs but rather in the recognition that we have always been free. Once we recognize our true freedom we must act upon that freedom in a manner befitting our true purpose. To do otherwise is to continue the cycle of self-imprisonment. Recognize your own freedom, honor yourself, express gratitude, live free.