Fetters

The things that hold a person back from attaining fulfilment.

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Fetters

Introduction

The search for Truth, for realisation, emancipation, enlightenment, assumes in most people the form of a positive quest. They even personify the object of their search, which becomes a pursuit of God. Though great spiritual men have declared that “the kingdom of God is within thee”, the search becomes a pursuit of an objectified imagination. But a pursuit is also a running-away, an escape. In this mad run however, and not before, man feels that he is fettered; and his desire to be free in order to become united with the object of his spiritual longing, becomes stronger. Feeling his impotency to break those chains; which have been imposed upon him—whence he knows not—he tries to obtain help from outside. But by relying upon outside help he goes away further and further from the kingdom within, and he merely makes fresh bonds which tie him down more firmly than before.

It is only the man who searches, that feels the weight of his fetters. There are millions who do not perceive these bonds and feel themselves free in their lustful lives. Still their very search for even greater satisfaction of the senses prove the emptiness of their lives, which are bound by the gross chains of the flesh.

True freedom, real emancipation cannot be had by running away with our fetters, nor by amusing ourselves within the prison walls, nor by clinging to them, but by breaking, those fetters and walls, which have been forged by tradition, convention, society and religion. To break those fetters we must know them, realise that they are fetters and not supports. When this is understood, it produces pure action (kriya), i.e. not action (kamma) which produces reaction (vipaka), as such action itself is a reaction to an environment which we have not understood. And this pure action, action without purposeful striving, will break the spell of delusion—the fetters which keep us bound.

Delusion is intensified by the misuse of language. Satirically it has been said, that words are used to hide our thoughts. If when we mean one thing, we say something else, it can only lead to greater confusion. In the following pages therefore, words like “mind” and “cause” have not been used, except in connection with the views of others, because there is nothing corresponding to these sounds. “Mind” is the act of thinking, which may be more or less perfect in awareness, but remains action nevertheless. Mind in the sense of something which can think is non-existent. Similarly “cause” in the ultimate sense does not exist outside the faith of the pious believer in God. Hence preference is given to expressions like “condition”. It would have been good, if words like “I” and “self” could have been omitted, for they too represent a non-existing entity; but their avoidance would cripple the language so much that speaking and writing would become impossible. And perhaps that would have been for the good of all.

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