Freedom from Mental Prison — The Conditioned Mind


The story is from “Awareness: The Courage to Be Yourself” by Osho.

A man, a fighter for freedom, was traveling in the mountains. He stayed in a caravanserai for the night. He was amazed that in the caravanserai there was a beautiful parrot in a golden cage, continually repeating “Freedom! Freedom!” It was such a place that when the parrot repeated the word “Freedom!” it would go on echoing in the valleys and the mountains.

The man thought: “I have seen many parrots and I have thought they must want to be free from those cages… but I have never seen such a parrot whose whole day, from the morning till evening, is spent in calling out for freedom.” He had an idea. In the middle of the night, when the owner was fast asleep, he got up and opened the door of the cage. He whispered to the parrot, “Now get out.”

He was very surprised that the parrot was clinging to the bars of the cage. He said to him again and again, “Have you forgotten about freedom? Just get out! The door is open and the owner is fast asleep. You just fly into the sky.”

But the parrot was clinging so deeply, so hard, that the man said, “What’s the matter? He tried to take the parrot out with his own hands, but the parrot started pecking at him, and at the same time he was shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” The valleys in the night echoed and re-echoed, but the man was also stubborn; he was a freedom fighter.

He pulled the parrot out and threw him into the sky; and he was very satisfied, although his hand was hurt. The parrot had attacked him as forcefully as he could, but the man was immensely satisfied that he had made a soul free. He went to sleep.

In the morning, as the man was waking up, he heard the parrot shouting, “Freedom! Freedom!” He thought perhaps the parrot must be sitting on a tree or on a rock. But when he came out, the parrot was sitting in the cage. The door was open.


In this story, a profound spiritual lesson unfolds — a lesson that transcends the boundaries of physical confinement and delves into the intricacies of inner freedom.

The traveler, witnessing the parrot incessantly chanting “Freedom! Freedom!” pondered upon the innate desire for the freedom inherent in all living beings. Yet, his perception shifted when faced with a paradox — the parrot, though surrounded by an open door, chose to remain captive within the gilded confines of its cage.

The essence of this tale lies not in the physicality of the cage, but in the metaphor, it represents — the cages we create in our minds, the self-imposed limitations that shackle us despite the doors of opportunity standing wide open, like the parrot in the story.

The profound spiritual lesson in this story urges us to focus within and recognize the cages we build — the mental blocks, fears, and attachments that confine us, despite the open doors of opportunity and liberation that surround us.

The parrot, in its steadfast attachment to the cage, reflects the human tendency to cling to familiarity, to the known, even when the path to freedom lies before us. It serves as a poignant reminder that true freedom transcends physical constraints — it is the liberation of the spirit, the unshackling of the mind from the confines of conditioning and limitation.

Mind alone is the cause of our bondage and liberation. All our problems originate in the mind. We carry in our minds, the fears and phobias, insecurities, anxieties, false concepts and notions; etc., according to the data that has been fed to us right from our birth. We get thoroughly conditioned by these and then find it very difficult to break out of it. Different kinds of addictions are also self-created mental blocks.

It is our mental conditioning due to which we get affected by what happens to us through events and experiences that are beyond our control. Our mind is conditioned by many factors. Each individual has a different set of mental conditioning and responds to a given situation differently. Nothing is inherently good or bad except what we judge them to be according to our own mental conditioning.

“We need to de-condition our mind and step beyond our self-imposed limitations and soar into the boundless expanse of our true potential. Only in recognizing and destroying these mental prisons can we be truly free.”

We have to examine and break free of the conditioned mind that limits our capacity to enjoy life in all its richness.

Ultimately, spirituality is all about transcending the mind itself.

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1 Comment

  1. Vimalchand Shrishrimal

    An excellent article, serves as an eye opener for us. The problem is our self-created cages and attachments which prevent us from realizing our true self.

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