The mind is an incredibly powerful thing. When you think about it, the mind dictates everything about our lives. The human brain sustains life, it keeps our hearts pumping and functions functioning, and it determines who we are. I think a lot of people don't really consider just how much the brain impacts our very being. It determines your personality, how you learn, who you are attracted to, and how you perceive the world.
As magnificent and awe inspiring the human brain can be, it can also be a major detriment.
A damaged brain is a terrible thing. A schizophrenic's brain is absolutely convinced that there are people and voices around the person. Just stop and think how powerful that is. Your brain can be so out of whack that you believe that you're seeing and hearing things that simply do not exist, and that's why the brain is a prison.
Many times we get caught up in our own lives, beliefs, and perception of reality. We become so convinced that we're seeing life as it is, that we forget the fact that reality doesn't always match up with the mind. When presented with an alternative point of view, a lot of times we just scoff at the person and assert that he or she just "doesn't get it," or that they're looney toons. Of course, their perception is somehow tainted by some unrealistic perception of reality.
Through our own reason, we become so convinced of the veracity of our perception that we deem ourselves to be the grand arbiters of all that is true and false in this thing we call "existence." I think we do this for one reason: because it's easier to be comfortable believing a potential lie than it is to suffer knowing the horrifying truth.
For many people--I'd even go out on a limb and say for most people--our beliefs are largely based on what makes us feel comfortable. We don't like dealing with the concomitant unpleasantries of the horrifying truth. And so, we imprison ourselves with ideology. We erect imaginary barriers that stunt our growth, keep us from leaving the prison yard. Imagine, if you will, a physical prison that has no walls, no bars, no guards, and the only thing keeping you in the prison is yourself.
Why would one stay in such a prison? Well, the prison is safer. Life is regimented, you always know exactly where you are when you wake up in the morning and where you will be when you go to bed at night. Your meals come at the same time, you have your hour in the yard every afternoon in which you wonder what's on the other side of the wall. What you don't realize is that the wall is false, and it's a construction of your own making.
The only thing holding you back is yourself, because knowing the truth is sometimes more painful than believing the lie. That's why we go to great lengths to engage in persuasive debate with people of opposing view-points. We want them to believe our reality, because their reality seems so foreign and so "wrong."
For example, I believe in my heart of hearts that abortion is morally wrong and abhorrent in most cases. However, I also believe that I don't have the right to tell a woman whether or not she can have one. Every time I admit to myself or to others that I'm pro-choice, I think a little part of me dies inside, because I know that my feeling doesn't match my belief. I wasn't always pro-choice, and in that case my imaginary walls happened to be my feelings on the nature of abortion. It wasn't until I discovered that the walls were false that I was able to intellectually move forward on the subject.
No one can truly see reality until you learn to break free from the prison of his or her own perception. Coming to the realization that you're in prison--becoming aware that there are no bars, walls, or guards except those which we place for the purpose of comfort--is the first step in breaking out. Walk outside your mind, and you discover that the outside world is more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.
What does your prison look like?