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The Four Jailers

There are four major entrapping forces that you, meaning any human being in western culture, encounter in your adult life.

  1. Your landlord
  2. Your boss
  3. Your mate
  4. Yourself

Actually, in order of importance or depth of entrapment, this is the reverse order. But in terms of making escape, it is much easier to start with the least pervasive, therefore, this order.

The landlord
Why is your landlord your jailer?
Calculate what percentage of your working time is spent working just to pay the rent. This time is in reality spent working not for yourself, but for your landlord. You may think, I am working for myself, because it pays for my essential need for shelter. But consider the fact that that shelter will never belong to you, even if you should actually pay its worth many times over. You are paying the mortgage, the taxes, the upkeep, and yet you can be asked to leave at any time. (Oh, you have a lease, OK, what about when the lease runs out? Suppose you have paid all these expenses on a place for even 25 or 30 years, when the lease comes up for renewal, you can be kicked out. Your landlord can decide to turn your home into a commercial establishment, condominiums, or even tear it down.) Imagine you made payments on a car for years, including all the upkeep and insurance, and yet all the time the car still belonged to the car dealer. Absurd.
     If, on the other hand, you buy a house and are paying back a loan, to the bank or the previous owner, once that loan is paid off, that house is yours and no one can take it away. You are not working for someone else's benefit.
     There are other ways to escape the landlord jailer - living in a mobile living space is one possibility, such as a raft, boat, or even a truck.

Your boss
Ask yourself this question, and try to give a truly honest answer: If you were not gettiing paid, would you show up at your job? If the answer is no, then your boss is one of your jailers.
     What is keeping you there, other than the rent? Is it the lure of consumerism, the acquisition of objects? One reason consumerism is so pervasive and continuing to grow is that in western society most people have lost touch with their emotional and spiritual parts and therefore feel a deep emptiness, which they try to fill with things, not knowing the source of that emptiness.
     Of course, everyone has needs – food, clothing, shelter, books and so on- but there are many many ways to fill our basic needs that do not require becoming a slave to a job that brings only the reward of money.
     Another reason the a boss is your jailer is that you must turn over your timing to the boss. You cannot work when and where you please, at your own scheldule and speed. As a result, you must ignore all the inner signals that come from your various different parts crying out for expression and fulfillment. All must be subordinated to the timing of the job, then you try to cram in the satisfaction of all your other needs on the weekends and vacations.
     How do you escape this jailer? "Do what you love, and the money will follow." Be creative and daring. Start something totally new. There are innumerable possibilities for ways to acquire your daily bread and other basic needs, and if you do so on your own timing, you have the possibility of being able to pay deep inner attention to yourself on all levels, and arranging your life so that all your needs can be satisfied.

Your mate
     Your mate is your partner, your helper, your lover, your comfort, and much more. How can s/he be your jailer? As soon as two people become committed to a mate relationship, they unconsciously and automatically begin to restrict and control one another. They each carry unstated assumptions and expectations of how the other should behave, which lead to never – verbalized, but insidious agreements about what each will or will not do, in and out of the relationship. Much of it comes from unconscious conditioning and patterning that has gone into you from your own childhood and all the cultural input of society. Some of it comes from your fears – fears of being left or abandoned, fear of not being loved enough, fear of becoming less important in your mates' eyes, and so on. Some of it comes just from inertia – routines set up which become habits, and life begins to lose its freshness and spontaneity.
     Without prolonged and conscious efforts to overcome these tendencies, all mate relationships inevitably fall into these patterns. Our own approach to escaping this jailer is three- fold:

-to know your own and your mates three deepest desires in life
-to give one another total freedom and mutual support to pursue those dreams
-and total honesty and exposure.

     I remember a scene in the movie "Don Juan de Marcos" in which the psychiatrist character, played by Marlon Brando, turns to his wife as he is about to retire from his successful career and says to her, " I need to know you, I want to know what your dreams are, what you long for." And she begins to weep, whispering, "I thought you'd never ask."

4. Yourself
     You are your own best friend and your own worst enemy. Ultimately, you have only your own weaknesses and negative behavior patterns standing between you and total self-fulfillment.
     To truly know yourself and to learn how to overcome all of your own faults and lacks is a life-long study and struggle. As Gurdjieff said, "Man's redemption entails his wholehearted and lifelong struggle against egoism, habit, lying, chattering, fantasy, negative emotions, and hypnotic sleep; and a complementary struggle for attention, presence, unity, being and understanding."
     The tools and processes with which to tackle the path of self-knowledge and self-fulfillment are myriad, and in our age, new and better techniques and information are being developed and expounded all the time. It is a long and difficult struggle, but for those willing to tackle these four jailers, the rewards are grand.

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Last revised: May 30, 2006