Free and Not Know It

There’s a story by the Indian saint Anandamoyi Ma about a wandering shepherd who finds shelter in a barn one evening. He plans to tie his sheep up for the night to a nearby tree – so they won’t escape – but all he can find is a short piece of rope. He runs the cord around their legs and necks but at the end, finding it impossible, he gives up and goes to sleep.

The next day, he’s astonished to find the sheep in the exact same position he left them the night before. None of them had moved. Then he figured it out. They hadn’t been tied to the tree, but simply thought they were… merely because the shepherd had touched them with the rope.

What do you think it means?

To me it shows that we are all “touched” with the idea of being human, mortal and limited… so we don’t rebel, we don’t escape. In reality, there’s no rope binding us. We just imagine that, because others around us believe they’re tied, we too must come to the same conclusion.

In the 14-volume spiritual Indian epic, The Mahabharata, one of the protagonists must answer a hundred questions to save his brothers. One of the questions is very interesting: “What is the most wonderful thing in life?” The correct answer?

“The most wonderful thing is that… although every day we are surrounded by death, still each one of us thinks he is immortal.”

Why would that be? Why would we all think that?

So, the great mystery is… how long will each of us will stand here, in the same place, until we test for ourselves whether or not we’ve ever truly been bound?

Because there is no rope.

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