Mind, the toughest prison; Mind, the fullest freedom

Acharya Prashant
7 min readMar 19, 2020

The mind is a prison- is a correct but an incomplete statement. The mind is limited by the brain, but the mind is not merely brain. What is it beyond the brain? Intelligence.

The mind is surely a prison when intelligence is not in operation. When one is not attentive, then the mind surely becomes a prison; a prison of the past, a prison in which others have enslaved you. But the mind is not a prison when we are acting intelligently.

Somebody has said, “the mind is both- your best friend and your worst enemy.”

The mind is both- your best friend and your worst enemy.

When is it your best friend?

When the same mind is operating intelligently.

And when is it your worst enemy?

When intelligence is switched off.

And when is the intelligence switched off?

Intelligence operates only in an environment of attention. Alternatively, you could say intelligence only operates in love. When there is no attention, when there is no care or love, then intelligence does not function. And then the mind is your worst enemy. It is a prison, more difficult to break out of than the central jail.

Once in, you are always in. No windows, no escape doors, no fresh air either. Everything is stale. Everything is coming from the past and to make matters worse; the prisoners may not even know that it is a prison. When the prisoner knows that he is imprisoned, then he makes some attempt to break out, to get free. But the mind is such a prison, which is full of suffering, but which does not let you know that you are imprisoned.

You feel that ‘this is my palace; this is not a room in the jail; this is not a cell in the jail, this is my great palace. And these handcuffs are not handcuffs but they are my ornaments. I am the king over here’. The mind is such a deceptive prison. You do not even know that you are imprisoned. ‘See, I am the king. Look at my ornaments. All these walls are the walls of my mansion, my palace. All these policemen that you see are my personal bodyguards. All the policemen who are patrolling, you know what they are doing? They are securing me. They are my personal bodyguards. I am not the…