The Prison–An Allegory of Life.
You wake up on a cold, stone floor. It’s a jail cell. 3 sides are solid walls. The fourth wall is a locked, cage-like door. High on one wall is a barred window. It’s night outside.
At first, you try to remember how you got there. Then you get up and call for help. No response. You scream and shout that you want out, but your voice bounces off the walls and echoes down the halls. You are completely alone.
Well, not entirely alone. At the end of the hallway is a guardsman standing in front of the door. His ever persistent gaze watches you, keeping you from acting out of line.
On his belt, you see the glint of a set of keys, the keys that will free you. You beg him to please let you out. You cry to him that you are innocent. The whole time, he’s silent, no words, just that steady gaze, reminding you that he’s in charge.
Day after day, you live in that cell. Food is delivered while you sleep. You never see anyone come or go. You pace around your cell. You feel helpless and alone.
You might try to escape–but there’s no way to get out. And with each failed attempt, your cell feels a little smaller. You start to hate the walls for keeping you trapped. You hate yourself for not being able to escape. But most of all, you hate the guard for not letting you out.
After a while, the hate turns to desperation. You are so sure that the guard is your only way out, you tell him you will do anything to release you. You make bold offers. But he continues to stare at you, no more or no less.
When the guard doesn’t succumb to your offers, you start to think that he wants you to behave a certain way. Maybe if he is convinced that you are a good person, he’ll release you. You change your behavior. You want to prove to him that you are worthy of freedom.
More time passes. You’ve started to accept your situation. It’s not so bad. The walls keep you safe. You’ve got food. And since you can’t remember what life was like before you entered the cell, you start to believe the guardsman is protecting you because you are special.
Yes! You are a king, and the cell isn’t a jail, it’s his majesty’s chambers. The guard is a royal guard. He can’t talk to you because he’s beneath you. That explains the lack of other people around you. That’s why food is delivered daily. Only a king would have servants and a guard!
But one day you have a dream. You’re in the middle of an endless field. The sun is shining. The sky is blue. In the distance is a beautiful mountain range. No limits. No walls.
When you wake up, you realize that despite all of your rationalizing delusions, you’re still trapped in jail. Remembering life before, you surge with anger. You attack the walls, punching and kicking as if your tiny blows could knock it all down. You run to the guard, screaming and shouting, you want to kill him so you can set yourself free. But the bars stop you. He just stands there, blank and unphased, holding the keys that could set you free.
Exhausted, you slink back into a dark corner. You feel completely hopeless, more trapped and alone than ever. You’ve tried everything, but nothing you do seems to lead to freedom.
What you don’t know is that this is an enchanted jail. The walls are just an illusion. The guard is just a mannequin. All the result of a spell you cast on yourself. You wanted it to protect you, but somehow it trapped you.
Once you understand this, the jail will vanish. The guard will lose his power. In their place, you’ll find a world of limitless freedom.
How is your life a prison?
[PHOTO CREDIT: Prison by : Dar. on flickr]