People who like to gather up thoughts, worries, etc., to hold onto are no different from prisoners tied down with a ball and chain. To fasten onto thoughts of the past is like having a rope around your waist tied to a post behind you. To fasten onto thoughts of the future is like having a rope around your neck tied to a door in front. To fasten onto thoughts you like is like having a rope around your right wrist tied to a post on your right. To fasten onto thoughts you don’t like is like having a rope around your left wrist tied to a wall on your left. Whichever way you try to step, you’re pulled back by the rope on the opposite side, so how can you hope to get anywhere at all?
As for people who have unshackled themselves from their thoughts, they stand tall and free like soldiers or warriors with weapons in both hands and no need to fear enemies from any direction. Any opponents who see them won’t dare come near, so they’re always sure to come out winning.
But if we’re the type tied up with ropes on all sides, nobody’s going to fear us, because there’s no way we can take any kind of stance to fight them off. If enemies approach us, all we can do is dance around in one spot.
So I ask that we all take a good look at ourselves and try to unshackle ourselves from all outside thoughts and preoccupations. Don’t let them get stuck in your heart. Your meditation will then give you results, your mind will advance to the transcendent, and you’re sure to come out winning someday.
Source: Access to Insight
Translated from the Thai by Thanissaro Bhikkhu