A friend told me last October the myth of Addictus, and it accompanied me ever since. The story goes that Addictus has been a slave, who one day was set free by his master. But being so accustomed to his chains, he did not take them off, even after he left his former master and went into what was supposed to be freedom.
This story invited me to think about the many different things that are binding us in life: roles, desires, what we want to be and think we ought to be. Possessions, cravings and aversions. They can dictate our decision making and the degree to which we experience feelings of freedom or imprisonment. And all the while I asked myself: What do we need in order to let got? What haven’t I found yet, that would give me the security and backup to leave behind what is binding me?
Lately I realized, that these questions are unhelpful themselves – whatever it is one would find, whatever substitute it would be – it would just be that: a substitute, another addiction. Even if it is the most blissful, most peaceful state – it must sooner or later, tremble, change, vanish. Absorption in meditation, silence on a retreat, the company of the most insightful, lovely people – it is bound to time and thus bound to inconstancy. All the substitutes are only temporary and can become themselves a new ball and chain. To subsituted slavery with slavery is not the way out of the dilemma!
So what to do? What is it, that Addictus does not see?
Well, what actually does he see, when he is looking at his chains? He will see something positive, something that soothes him, gives him pleasure in a distorted kind of way. He interprets something into the chains, that makes them worthwhile carrying around.
And thus he is adding something to the chains, that is not there. If he would be able to see his chains without layers of assumptions, memories and views, they would be just that: heavy, burdensome pieces of iron that take a lot of effort to carry around. And feeling their rough edges and how they hurt and tire the body, he would put them down in the blink of an eye.
Can we be with the unpleasantness of whatever we hold on to, in order to experience the suffering it inflicts on us fully? Only then, I suppose, are we ready and willing to let go. Can we look into of layers and layers of interpretation and views and see their deformation? It might be frightening to look at what is supposed to be dear to us and important and question its validity. So lets keep in mind that this heart and mind are bound by unnecessary chains, and that it will be an act of compassion to unbind them. And that it is not done immediately or alone – it will take time and good friends and teachers along the way to learn to see and know what makes life free and unbound.
Can we experience the unpleasantness of unhelpful views, cravings, strivings fully?
Are we finally done with binding ourselves to ideas, behaviors, possessions that are hurting us?
Am I ready to take a leap into the unknown, accepting that I used to live in a Self made cage?