This is the story of a man who was imprisoned inside a house. But, this was not always so because in the beginning of his life, he was happy and free on the outside. He explored the open fields, the forests and the mountains with joy and excitement. Then one day, someone told him, “There is danger here. You are not safe. You must protect yourself.” So into that house he went.
The house was locked tight, with bars covering dirty windows. For a while the house brought him feelings of security and normality. Eventually, however, he realized he had made a mistake. He longed to be outside again and as the years went by, this longing became more and more powerful while the memories of his life on the outside became fainter and fainter in his mind.
People would call and tell him, “There is a key to get out of that dark house.” Or others might say, “I have the key you are looking for. Follow me.” Still others would say, “There is no key. Give up now, like we have.” There were others who would demand, “If you don’t follow my religion, you’ll get stuck in an even darker house when you die.” This scared him, and for a while he decided to listen to the people that instilled such fear and brought such hope at the same time.
One day, he realized these people who claimed to have the key to freedom were stuck in their own houses the whole time. He could not trust them. They did not find their own key, so how could they lead him to his? Again, he gave up, he decided there was no key, and this was all he would know, forever.
Sometime later, someone called him and said, “You already have the key you are looking for. The key is within you.” This thrilled him and filled him with hope. “Of course!” He thought to himself. “As soon as I fix myself and get rid of all the unwanted junk, Ill find that key buried beneath!”
The next several years, the man tirelessly worked on himself. He meditated for hours every day as he tried to stop his mind from thinking. He tried to purify himself from all of the aspects of what he thought were standing in the way of the key that was deep within him. But this never brought him to what he sought. “I don’t understand!” He cried. “What am I doing wrong?” And once again he resolved to be stuck inside the dark house forever.
Each day he became more miserable. He looked through the dirty windows with hatred and jealousy and then finally he thought he understood. “This clouded world outside these windows, this utopia I see glimpses of, it is nothing but an illusion! It’s all made up in my mind. It’s just a fantasy!” Of course, by now he had completely forgotten about the beginning of his life when he lived and explored in that beautiful world. He decided to turn his back on the windows, to not trouble himself, and not take up his time gazing in earnest at the sunshine as he once used to.
People still called him sometimes but he ignored the ringing. For many years the man walked aimlessly through the house, going from room to room, looking for something to make him happy. Sometimes he found toys, games and books to read, but they would never keep him occupied for long.
Sometimes he found chemicals he could put into his body that would make him feel wonderful, but eventually they lost their effect on him and he needed more and more in order to feel anything at all in order to keep the horrible loneliness and sadness at bay. He came to a point where nothing inside the house brought him any comfort or happiness anymore. All he knew was sadness, longing and isolation.
His thoughts returned to the windows, door, lock, and key. “What a cruel joke,” he muttered. “To put those things there to fool me into thinking there was ever anything more than this. Who would do such a thing? All of those years trying to open that door.”
He stopped in his tracks, suddenly realizing that he had spent all that time looking for the key, yet never bothered to try opening the door because he was sure he had locked it. He was sure other people had locked it as well, from the outside. But he had never once tried to simply open the door. It was the simplest thing in the world. “Nothing in life is that simple,” he thought. But he felt compelled to try it.
He walked to the door, turned the knob, and it opened before him! The bright sunlight, the cool breeze, the air, the smells of freshness and beauty, all of it hit him with such vibrancy and force that he was knocked on his behind.
There he sat, the door open, the light and the fresh air streaming in. He remembered the words someone had once spoke, “There is danger here. You are not safe. You must protect yourself.” Fear gripped him. For a moment he considered closing the door and returning to his life inside the house, but the outside world was too tantalizing, too alive and vibrant to resist.
The man got up, stepped through the door and remembered. He remembered who he was. He remembered those days before, when he roamed free and happy with everyone else in the world. He remembered those childhood days of exploration and adventure, when every day was new and fresh. He looked out at the world before him, vast and beautiful.
“It was a lie,” he spoke. “There is no danger here. I am free.” He turned around to look back at the house. Yet, there was no house at all, only an open door standing on the grass. He walked back through it to see that it was the same beautiful world on both sides of the door.
“You’ve been free all along!” A voice called. It was a beautiful woman standing on the hill, one who’s face showed wisdom and vitality. “There are no houses. Only doors. There is no inside and outside. There is only here, and you choose how to see it. How you see it is how it will be.”
He looked around further and realized she was right. There were a few people free like he and the woman, but there were many more behind closed doors, most of them suffering as he had been. But there were no houses around them. They walked in the sunlight and didn’t even see it.
“What changed?” he called to the woman on the nearby hill.
“Only your thoughts,” she smiled.
“But I thought I locked the door! I thought other people locked it as well!”
“Your thoughts are your reality. Once you challenged your thoughts and decided to open the door, you found it was only your belief that it was locked that kept you from ever bothering to open it!” The woman spoke with a good-natured life.
“What about them?” He nodded at the people behind the doors. “They are suffering, like I was.”
“I know it may be hard to accept, but no one can save them but themselves. No one can make them see what they choose not to. Their world is theirs to create, and your world is yours, and yours alone. We could spend our lives screaming to them, telling them their doors are unlocked and they would not hear us. No one who really knows could ever communicate what really matters to those who need it most, because everyone’s world is their own to create.”
He looked back at the people. He saw that the doors were unlocked, as his was. He saw that no dark house surrounded them.
“Come,” the woman said, “there is so much more for you to see…!”
– Source Unknown. If you know who wrote this, please let me know. I’d love to give them the credit they deserve.
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