Once a man took his donkeys to sell in the market. On the way he had to stay overnight in an inn. So, he decided to tie his donkeys to a nearby tree and rest for the night in the inn.
To his dismay he discovered that he had one rope short which would leave one donkey free. Meanwhile the inn-keeper was observing the man’s predicament.
The innkeeper suggested to the man to pretend that he has a rope and go through the motions of tying the free donkey. Having done that the man retired for the night.
In the morning the man was surprised and happy to find the free donkey very much in the company of the tied ones. He proceeded to untie the tied donkeys and take them to the market. To his astonishment he found that the free donkey didn’t move at all.
Again, the inn-keeper suggested the man to pretend as if the donkey is tied and go through the motions of untying it. To his amazement, the man saw the donkey get up and move!!
Due to the ignorance of our Real Self, we tend to identify with the finite and limited entities like the body, sense organs, mind and its contents called the emotions, feeling and sentiments and intellect and its contents called the thoughts and take these as “I”. Since these entities are limited by space, time and causation, there is an illusion that we are finite and bound by these limitations.
When the fictitious ego, which appears in its own absence like mirage water, is dissolved through knowledge of the Self and along with it all the false identities are destroyed, the awareness dawns that the Real Self has always been free beyond all limitations. The realization is that the Self was never ever in any kind of bondage, like the untied donkey.