I shared the following quote on Facebook yesterday and asked people to leave a comment with their intpretation of its meaning:
“If a thief is shackled by iron handcuffs
and a king by golden handcuffs,
does that mean that the king is not bound?”
—Shri Sadguru Siddharameshwar Maharaj
If you read the comments, you’ll notice how every person perceived the teaching quite differently.
The world is no different. We only see our own reflection.
Every one of our perceptions is filtered through our life’s unique conditioning and circumstances, which the mind then projects onto the world.
But… I digress, that’s a bonus teaching.
In the above quote’s metaphor, both the thief and king are shackled and bound. Neither man is free.
Both men are handcuffed by chains they have unknowingly placed upon themselves.
They are imprisoned by their desires. They are victim to their own ignorance.
The thief’s ignorance is obvious. He has taken what wasn’t his, and for this, his freedom has been taken away.
The king’s ignorance is no different. He surrounded himself with opulence, wealth, power, and prestige, and unknowingly bound himself by the very same thing as the thief—by attaching his happiness onto something external, to things that were outside of him, and that weren’t truly his.
If someone offered to unlock the thief’s iron chains, he would gladly accept, and he would be free. But, if someone offered to unlock the king’s golden chains, he would certainly resist. He would refuse to let go of the perceived wealth that he finds himself chained to.