Free yourself from bondage

Baba says, ‘become free from all bondage‘. Only then can you serve yourself and others.

After coming to Baba, I have let go of a number of gross bondages such as eating certain kinds of food or other changes to my lifestyle such as staying out late etc. But just as for a runner, it is usually the pebbles that trip them over, here too, it is the subtle bondages that hold me back.

For some of us, it is the attachment to a certain routine. I wake up in the morning for my meditation, then I like my coffee a certain way, then I like my breakfast at a certain time, need to be at work by a certain time etc. etc. If that routine were to change a bit, it throws me off. I get irritable, I can’t stop thinking about it, wishing my day had gone differently…according to routine. We can be pretty rigid. I lose out on opportunities to serve when I am attached to routine, when I can’t let go and be flexible. I am so caught up in my own little world that I have no more mental space to think about others.

Then for some of us, we have the ‘if, then…’ criteria for anything we do. I get a call to attend a workshop and contribute my ideas and my first question is, ‘who is leading it?’. Then, I assess if it is worth my time – ‘she is a newbie…I’m not going to waste my time in that workshop…’. Or if I get asked to lead something, I ask, ‘how many people are you expecting at this session?’. If it’s not as much as say the number that was at that other session that so and so ran, then I’m going to look bad…better to not do it. I get caught up in appearances and they hold me back from true service.

I get a call from a friend or colleague asking for help with a project. I immediately start thinking if the timing suits me, if it will inconvenience me etc, etc. Then, if I end up helping, I do it reluctantly like I was fulfilling an obligation. Doing something without meaning it i.e. dishonestly deprives me of blessings. Instead, the other person receives the indifferent or forced vibe and feels badly. Then, I’ve just done a disservice…Baba says, it’s better to not serve in such cases.

Sometimes, I am caught up in what others think of me. My boss praises me or criticizes me in front of others, I feel elated or insulted and get busy in thinking about what others might be thinking of me- ‘so and so must be so jealous right now…’ or ‘I’ll never find another position after this…’. If someone criticizes me, let me examine if there was any truth to it, is there something I need to change? If yes, let me make a note of that and move on. I don’t have to accept or internalize the tone or the negative energy that accompanied the delivery of the message. That has more to do with their sanskar, not mine. But I instead spend time thinking more about why they were rude to me and what others might be thinking. Same goes for praise…how long do I spend rewinding the scene in my mind to feel good?

Baba says, ‘check if you have any subtle bondages‘. Am I still stuck with preferences? do I still measure my worth by what I do or accomplish? do I still crave feedback, approval, likes and badges? If I have any kind of bondage, then I am not light, I am not free. When I am not free, I cannot serve myself or others because I am too entangled in my own web. The world will box me and label me. It will dictate how I should measure myself and I will find myself chasing an ever moving target.

Release yourself from your own cage, He says. It just takes a second, a single thought to realize true from false. Simply remember who you are, He says. You are a soul, a free spirit, a child of God. Your place in not in the cage of this old, impure world but rather in the unlimited sky where your flight not just brings you happiness but reminds others that they are meant to fly too. Your very existence becomes a service.

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