The Key Hangs On The Door Unguarded


It scares them.

The thought of other people gaining Awareness of themselves scares them.


They think it’s dangerous if people think freely. They see this as a bad thing for society.

They are afraid that unchained minds and unchained souls will topple the structures of stability.


To them we say, ‘Don’t worry my friends — when the guard tower falls and the cell doors open, when the young people walk free from the penitentiary of stability, there will be nothing forcing you to follow…’


‘You can stay in your cell if you so wish…

And if it makes you feel better, we can have someone close your cell door at night.

That way it will feel like nothing has changed.’


I wonder comrade, what is it you really fear?


Is it that you’re pining and climbing to get to the highest cell in this place? Have you realised you can only get there on the backs of others?


Why be in the highest cell, if no one gazes longingly up at you? Or if none grow up wanting to be you, or seek your advice?


Have you come to love imprisonment?


When you look at the levels above, when you examine that climb to the top, you say to yourself, ‘this is a game I can win.’

Because in here you can be powerful. But in a free world, your gifts are not so glorious.


And that terrifies you.


Look at that parent there…


Look at that parent there — they wrap their child in swaddling clothes and lay them in a golden cot. They’ll give them everything the prison has to offer, they’ll fight for it — every scrap of food, every cigarette butt, all the shiniest utensils. They’ll trade and bargain to get them to the top floor.


They’ll do everything for them but let them leave the prison. They wish for them ‘to be free’, but only on the levels they can see. That is, freedom within these sacred walls.


They’ll live out a tragedy, but they’ll never see it. If I was born into this hell, then you’ll stay here too.


And it can’t be helped. You can see it, but there’s nothing you can do. If we try to intervene, we’ll only replace the parent and confuse the poor child more.


How many parents, how many teachers, how many politicians, how many scientists, how many clergymen, how many thinkers… how many think they’re free?


And though you criticise these figures, you fear other people gaining their own Awareness.


The prospect of a generation of monks is terrifying, is it?


Why? No monk ever imprisoned me, hurt me, cheated me, tried to control me. Why don’t you fear those who have committed violence already? They are the ones who violated me.


No, I don’t hate them. They weren’t being themselves — they were playing a character, they were bribed and held at gunpoint. But the food vanished in their mouths, the gold weighed them down, and the guns were just shadows.


Dear friends — it is the biggest fool of all who hates the actor, when the actor was just playing a part.


Don’t pity the free. Don’t fear Awareness.


Don’t pity the free. Pity those who were, as children, instructed to build and decorate their own cell — when you build the iron bars yourself, you don’t see it as a cage.


What a marvelous deception, what a contrite confusion, to call this process education. And they ask children not only to love it, but to pay for it, to compete for it, to starve for it, and to desperately want it for their own children.


Don’t fear Awareness my friends — Awareness has no painful sacrifice. Nothing is given up or gone without. There is no compromise or pain. To be Aware is not to live in caves, feed on locusts, or go without luxuries or pleasures.


To be Aware is to be free from addiction. To be Aware is to enjoy others without being chained to them. To enjoy hamburgers without being chained to them. To enjoy improvement without being chained to it.


To enjoy wine without being chained to it. To enjoy one’s house without being chained to it. To enjoy religion without being chained to it. To enjoy non-religion without being chained to it.


To enjoy creating without being chained to it. To enjoy gold without being chained to it. To enjoy stillness without being chained to it. To enjoy meditation without being chained to it.


To enjoy life without being chained to it. To enjoy Awareness… without being chained to it.


Where do the Aware live?


They live in big mansions and small houses. They don’t own cars but they sometimes drive Porsches. They’re starving writers and they’re rich real estate agents. All the while they’re Aware of what they have, and they’re not burdened by what seems lacking.


So don’t fear your Awareness. It’s about as painful as diving into a pool or resisting a cigarette, and as pleasant as waking up.


But when you dive in, where is the agony? No, it was only a shock, and the shock is fleeting. And when it passes you don’t fear or feel the cold on your skin. You’re just swimming, and it feels glorious.


And all your poverty, and hardship, and self-judgement, and insecurity, and worry is washed away. Now there is only these soothing waters, and though nothing holds you, you’re floating in something like air. And you’re wondering how you ever made things out to be so hard in your mind, and how you ever contemplated a way other than this.


Though you once feared dying, you now wish you’d done it sooner. Because the pain of the knife or the years of cancer was nothing compared to the joy of waking up from this 80-year dream. And even if you fear going to bed, you will not fear waking up.


So don’t fear Awareness.


So don’t fear your Awareness. Instead, fear those who fear the Awareness of others.


For they are terrified of confronting what they know is inside them.


They cling desperately to a story and will hide anywhere to maintain it.


They’ll hide as the High Sparrow or Head Priest, as the beggar or the banker, as the loving mother or the dutiful father, as the missionary or the revolutionary, as the politician or the philanthropist, as the entertainer or the enlightening educator.


Fear them, for they prefer not only that they remain imprisoned, but that others remain imprisoned alongside them. Because nothing terrifies them more than aloneness, of sitting in that cell alone long enough to finally see it for what it is.


The reason is so tragic, so heartbreaking, so baseless it’s terrifying. The pain they refuse to see in themselves writes a story, a story they need in order to distract themselves from Reality. And to them, you are nothing more than an actor who won’t play the role they wrote for you.


And so you come to see that the prison exists for no reason at all. It is built entirely on smoke, but they call it stone. It is to survive an image built on false promises and vanishing gold.


The Key Hangs on the Wall Unguarded.


Friends, the key hangs on the wall unguarded. At any time you can pick it up and leave this place. But each of us gives ourselves a different excuse to stay. There is a voice in your head, but this voice is not you. It is little more than a story shaped by the walls around you. And what does it say?


I can’t leave, I don’t have enough money yet. But I will one day. I’ll be back soon.

I can’t leave, I have childhood pain. I need to heal, and all this drama is real.

I can’t leave, I’m not worthy. But I will return once I’ve scaled these walls with my soul intact.

I can’t leave, I’m afraid of what’s out there.


But yours is not that voice. Yours is not that story.


Yours is the eye that reads the story.


And if you choose to see it, that eye has a hand, and that hand holds a pen, and with that pen you can write a new story.


Why, you ask, don’t people free themselves, if the key hangs on the wall?


It’s the story they recite, the story that’s not theirs. It’s the story they tell themselves that this is not a prison.


For as long as it’s not a prison, it’s not a key hanging on the wall, but just a piece of metal.


And so they pick it up and say, ‘what the hell is this for?’


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