A person does not have to be behind bars to be a prisoner. People can be prisoners or “slaves” of their own concepts and ideas. – Maharaji (Prem Rawat)
What does that mean?
This quote, to me, is about being slaves of convention. A slave to a habit or regular action. A slave to a concept, be it our own idea, a family belief or value, or one of a society.
While the words may seem a bit inflammatory, I find it hard to imagine a more accurate description of the phenomenon. Normally, people who said to be in prison are in an actual physical structure which limits their ability to move or do as they would want to do.
This quote simply points out that by one’s own attitude, one can become a prisoner to convention, a slave to a belief or a habit. Look at professional athletes who won’t shave before big games, or have a ritual that they believe they must do in order to perform at their best? What else can we call such an odd devotion?
Why is challenging yourself important?
Here, I mean specifically to challenge your beliefs, concepts, and ideas. What serves you, and what harms you? Some of them may only make you appear quirky, but might take things beyond the quaint and quirky into downright strange. And the worst might well make you a prisoner of your odd concepts and ideas.
As usual, this issue has an ideal path, which will be unique for each person and the moment in which they live. There is just as much difficulty in too much conformity as there is in mindless rebellion. The proper path will take an examination of what your attitudes and beliefs are, and how you value them.
If there are things in your life that help you, great, that’s what we’re trying to do, right? But what about the things that slow you down? Have you ever asked if these concepts, ideas, or other thoughts and behaviors might be your jailer?
Where can I apply this in my life?
Again, I find myself as an example of the quote. I have already cracked open a can of caffeinated beverage, and am getting ready to partake in a small amount of chocolate. I have a belief that this helps me think and to concentrate.
As both these items have a measurable impact on brain chemistry, and I have a slightly imbalanced brain chemistry, I consider this to be a form of self-medication. Am I a slave to caffeine and chocolate? Not quite, but I know that I can function without them. Just not as quickly, or as well.
The quote infers the question “Are you free if the door to your jail cell is open, but you refuse to step outside?” If your beliefs, concepts, and ideas say the door is still closed, you are still a prisoner, even if you stand in an open field, right?
Take a moment and consider what concepts, ideas, habits, thoughts, or beliefs in your life are slowing you down or holding you back? Grab some paper and write down a half dozen or so things that you think are holding you back.
Select three of the ones which are most in need of adjusting, either because the damage they do by being in place, or the potential for what you could do if it was no longer there. Take a moment to imagine how different your life could be, if you would allow it to no longer be your jailer.
Select one of the three to be the first one you work on, and write down some of the things you just felt, saw, or experienced. Were you happier, were you able to do more things you enjoyed? Were you able to help yourself or other people? How did it feel? What did it look like, feel like, or seem like?
Now take a moment and consider what would happen if you didn’t do something to change your concepts, ideas, habits, thoughts, or beliefs in your life. How different is that from what you came up with in the prior paragraph? Take a moment and write down a few of the low-lights of what life would be like if you don’t change this self-imposed limit.
There are just two steps left. The first is to replace the concepts, ideas, habits, thoughts, or beliefs that are limiting you with something that empowers you. Nature abhors a vacuum, so fill it, or the old one will sneak back in.
Finally, consider what you will have to do to actually replace the old with the new. Can you do it on your own? Can this be changed by the force of willpower and keen observation, or will you need assistance? Will a book, a teacher, or a mentor help?
Are there places where others with your challenge meet? Is there a club or social organization for people with a similar challenge? There are many resources, and many possibilities. It’s up to you to get motivated, to find them, and to get busy making it happen.
It’s your life, throw open the door and walk out of your self-imposed prison. The grass really is greener on the other side of the bars.
From: Twitter, @tonyrobbins
confirmed at : http://www.bestspirituality.com/quotes-1/nf/Maharaji.htm
Photo by donebythehandsofabrokenartist