Mental Slavery, as the name implies, states the condition where we become the slaves of our own minds. So often we must have found ourselves in situations where we feel that we are not in control. We do things we don’t want to, we feel what we shouldn’t, and we lose control over our own thoughts. It simply feels like though we are in the body, someone else is controlling it.
All the more reasons to work in the direction of emancipate yourself from mental slavery once and for all.
What is Mind?
Mind here comprises of our memories, thoughts, the information that has been swallowed by us, consciously or subconsciously. We see, think, interpret, and act based on the information, which is stored in our minds right from our childhood until now.
Basically, this information is mind. When I say ‘Mind’, it is not some mystical power, but plain simple knowledge and facts which we have acquired over the years.
It is crucial to understand the basic terminology to actually fight back this ‘mental slavery.’ Now there’s another thing, which we can label as ‘nature’s intelligence’. Other animals—take birth, eat, sleep, rest, hunt, and continue the cycle.
Most of the animals don’t actually need a ‘thought’, to do the above-mentioned activities—they breathe, digest food, circulate blood without any interferences. That’s nature’s intelligence which is performing all the work for them.
They have a pretty simple language which is still at a rudimentary level to perform activities like hunting, or to keep themselves from being hunted. But in the case of HUMANS, our wide array of thoughts is interfering with the intelligence of nature, which is why ‘mental slavery’ has become so prominent and serious today.
This is causing a series of endless conflicts within us, tangling us like anything. Confusion, dilemma, uncertainty, mayhem, chaos, anarchy, turmoil, instability, tumult; all are the consequences of “Mental Slavery”.
When we are thirsty, then there we don’t think about whether to drink water or not, what color should the bottle look like, or what angle should I drink water from; you just drink it. Our ancestors too didn’t think as much as we do. They had a much simpler and straightforward lifestyle. Hunting, feeding, sleeping, agriculture, reproducing—that’s what they mostly did. But since humankind has evolved so freaking much, our lives have become as complex as it gets.
Physical Slavery VS Mental Slavery
The basic difference between physical slavery and mental slavery is that one is real, the other isn’t.
Physical slavery is when you are tied up from top to bottom through heavy metal chains that are curtailing your bodily movements in one kind or another and forcing you to do what your master wants. That’s a real restriction.
In today’s world, physical slavery of this kind is almost non-existent. To combat physical slavery, needless to say, one needs physical powers to fight back and free oneself.
But when it comes to mental slavery, we are slaves to our very own thoughts. There are no actual metal chains, straps, or leashes holding us back. What’s really holding us back is our own imaginative mental chains where no physical power is effective to combat this mental slavery.
Your attaching yourself to someone or something in your own mental world is mental slavery.
Reel VS Real
Whenever you are morose, then that means you have become something you are actually not.
You see before you are a daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend; you are first a body who is playing all these roles. The moment you consider yourself as one of those roles solely, then that’s how you fall into this enormous trap of mental slavery.
But if you are crystal clear about who you are, and you have also acknowledged the fact that you are playing different roles, then that will be a big boost in emancipating mental slavery. You won’t get all gloomy and dismal if you can understand the difference between being in a role and becoming a role.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Even Shakespeare was pretty clear about not confusing the role you are playing with who you actually are. Can an actor actually be sad playing numerous characters? They are portraying a role where they might cry from the outside, but from the inside, they are calm.
Just like that, you will also continue to play your role in the game of life, but it doesn’t necessarily have to involve you becoming a target of mental slavery. But now I am not implying that you become emotionless, or impervious to everything.
The real actors who show real emotion forget that they are playing a role, which is why their acts look realistic and appealing. But it doesn’t last long. An actor can be in the role only for as long as he is on the sets/stage. Similarly, whatever role you are playing in life, you need to be completely engrossed at the moment, or else it won’t look real.
But instead of understanding the whole game going on here, what do we? We get so immersed into the role, that we totally forget who we actually are—we forget that we are playing a role in the first place, which makes us a target of, yeah you guessed it, mental slavery.
So, now comes the million-dollar question. How to get out of this “Mental slavery”?
The first step to combating this is to believe that mental slavery can be fought off. If you keep believing that, “slavery is inevitable”, or “I can’t possibly escape it”, then my friend no matter how many articles you read, or how many books you go through, you will always be a slave.
So, after you believe, and not just for show, but actually, that mental slavery is a war that can be won, then comes the second step.
You need to understand the game you are playing. This is the only way. No amount of power, money, name, or fame can free or emancipate you from mental slavery, but your own understanding. Understanding develops from questioning. Questioning your own believes your outlook, your thoughts, your desires, your everything.
Our life is an alternating current. We keep on juggling between the two states of ‘elation’ and ‘depression’. First, we become super happy with someone or something, and the very next moment we turn all blue. It’s like a merry-go-round that doesn’t stop and keeps on going forever and ever. It’s about time we question what sorrow actually is. We never tend to stay with it patiently and instead we keep running from it all our lives which is why it keeps on disturbing us.
Whenever sadness strikes, we run towards the state of euphoria, but it ultimately runs out and doesn’t last as long as we want. The goal of this article isn’t to make sadness vanish into a puff of smoke, it’s rather to understand what it actually is.
The next time you become sad or gloomy, say to yourself, “Alright! Give it your best shot. I am not afraid of you. Bring it on, let me see who you are and what can you do?”
All the problems arise because we are afraid of being in a state of ‘sadness’ and wallow in the pool of emotions we are not particularly fond of. We need to calmly understand what this state actually is. This state of despair of gloominess is actually associated with a sense of attachment.
Whenever we get attached to something, be it an object, or name, fame, money, or a person, or a phase, or even a thought; and suddenly someone pries it right from our bare hands, then we experience pain and that pain brings misery.
Why do we experience pain? Because we think we struggled hard to deserve what we had (it can be anything), and now that it has gone we are back to square one. This is the sense of depression.
Coming back to the UNDERSTANDING Part
We actually don’t get attached to anything in reality, but only at the level of the mind. So how to come out of this cage?
One option is to come out of it hastily just because you read it here, or somewhere else, or someone told you something. This is risky because you haven’t truly understood what you are doing. The other option is the road less traveled. This road demands patience to accurately understand what’s being said.
If I am saying we all are playing different roles, then you gotta ask yourselves, “What are these roles actually?”, “What is he even talking about?” If you go in-depth of this, slowly and steadily, grasping all the variables, then you may have a winning shot of coming out of mental slavery for good.
You should be absolutely clear about concepts like “Who am I?”, the universe, meaning of life, God, birth & death; beyond a shadow of a doubt because until then your mind can never be totally free of “mental slavery.”
You can spout up your own believes and imaginations to cover up your doubts and dilemmas, but it will only work for as long as things go according to you, which, we all very well know, doesn’t happen all the time. You will believe in your own notions of GOD until he is acting according to you. The minute he does something unanticipated and unforeseen, you will start cursing him.
Let’s go one step deeper into the root cause of ‘mental slavery’.
The Perfect Example
I have given this example before, it’s my favorite analogy.
When you see an ocean, you say there are numerous waves there. Now, it’s okay to say that for conversational purposes, but in reality, you should be clear that there is actually no wave.
Wave is water; and we are trying to impose an allegation upon the water, saying that wave is something distinct from the water. All the suffering arises when we start seeing ‘wave’ and ‘water’ as two unique entities. Wave is just a name for a particular form of water. Similarly, the roles you play are just ‘waves’, and you actually are the ‘water.’
The minute the wave understands that “though I am being called a wave, I am water in reality”, all kinds of fear and suffering go out the window.
And the wave, when it meets with the other waves, will love them wholeheartedly instead of getting attached to it and pretending to love them. This is how you get free and emancipate from mental slavery once and for all. Right now, people are attached to an image they have formed in their own minds, and label that attachment as love.
Love VS Attachment
Let’s consider a couple here, Jack and Luna. Long story short, they met, things clicked, and they are in ‘love’ with each other. Now let’s go to the behind-the-scenes of this movie.
What actually happens in most of the cases is that Jack, didn’t actually fall in love with Luna, but his own image he created of a perfect girl in his mind.
And how did he create this image? By consciously or subconsciously feeding information through society, movies, books, friends, and so on. So, when he meets a girl, resembling that ‘image’, he falls head over heels in love, but this is not true love. He is just attached to his own mind; another instance of ‘mental slavery’.
He thinks he loves her, but in reality, he is just trying to find his own image he created in Luna. He is trying to superimpose them together. Now just imagine how complicated that image actually is. All the worldly things a girl should be is encompassed in that image.
So, if one opts to choose this path, which most people do, they will be all happy and singing initially, because, in the beginning, they are trying to see only those qualities of their partner which matches with the image they have in the minds. This leads to infinite expectations on the basis of that image, which is the perfect recipe for the clashes and conflicts to happen in the foreseeable future. And if you look closely, this is what’s happening all around us.
Memory Can be Deceiving
Here, they both are trying to see the other person through their memory, and not as it is, which can be deceiving. Both of them can have different memories of the same situation. It’s not necessary that what Jack experienced was the same as what Luna experienced.
Initially, Jack overlooks all the drawbacks of Luna, to relish that image he mystically formed, hoping to make his dreams come true. The minute he starts seeing the drawbacks of Luna, his dream will implode into a million pieces, and he will have to go through pain, and nobody wants to intentionally put oneself on the path of pain.
But the foundation here is so shaky that it is bound to collapse one way or the other. So, at the start, they both are very happy, both of them portraying the best versions of themselves, only showing what the person wants to see. And as time passes, the fake layers start shedding off, and the real thing starts coming into the picture, which is nowhere close to what either of them expected and dreamt about. Let the conflicts and clashes begin now.
Now, this either leads to compromises or the chapter getting closed altogether. Both of which have got nothing to do with real love. Calling that compromise as ‘love’ is again, ‘mental slavery’.
As long as Jack doesn’t discover who he truly is, he can never really love Luna, and vice versa. They can showcase their love, but from the inside, they both will be just trying to satisfy themselves.
The only way to come out of mental slavery is when Jack looks inside him and discovers that he is not the wave he thought he was, but he is actually water.
Similarly, when he looks inside Luna, he will again find out that even she is not what she thinks she is. Now, when he will look at her, he will be actually looking at a reflection of his own self, because they both are water.
This will lead to a sense of fulfillment, the feeling of true love. When Luna becomes a part of Jack himself, then that is when you are actually in love. Now there will be no more clashes or fights because you are actually in a relationship with a part of your own self. And you don’t break your teeth when they bite your own tongue.
This is the ultimate way to beat ‘mental slavery’, and one can only reach here through UNDERSTANDING.
“Mental Slavery is Mental Death and every man who has given up his intellectual freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul.”
-Robert Green Ingersoll