The great teachers always taught through parables. The best ones have survived through the ages and taken countless seekers to higher levels of consciousness.
There is one tale that is particularly powerful and there are many versions of this in various Wisdom Traditions.
Here is my version of this fable:
Harry, an accomplished horseman, decides to try riding without a saddle and bridle. He discovers that he is a natural bareback rider and loves being able to direct his horse with his arms around its neck.
He goes to his saloon after a strenuous ride and runs into a problem. There are no reins to tie his horse to the hitching post.
A grizzled old timer tells him to pretend to tie the horse in the same way he normally did.
Harry does so and goes in for a drink. He is resigned to walking back if he has to and knows the horse will come back when hungry.
To his surprise, his horse is still where he left it.
He jumps on it and nudges it to start home.
It remains where it was and looks at him inquiringly. And, despite his efforts, it does not move.
Frustrated, he goes back into the saloon and accosts the grizzled old timer. The old timer listens to his tale of we and asks him, “Did you untie it?”
“It was never tied to begin with,” Harry expostulates.
“Just go and pretend to untie it,” the veteran tells him.
Shaking his head in disbelief, Harry goes back and pretends to untie the horse before jumping on its back.
And, straightaway, the horse responds to his pressure and starts trotting home.
And that, in a brief capsule, is the tale of our spiritual journey.
We think that we are bound in this cage of flesh and blood and bone and tormented by the harpies of our untrammeled desires and the strident demands of our perennially restless mind.
And we strive to get rid of this bondage by meditation and spiritual practices of various kinds.
And we hope to ‘become free’ by these means.
Like the horse, we do not recognize that we are always free and the only thing binding us is the notion that something is binding us.
Think about it.