The Three-Sided Cage

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For those with eyes to see, the metaphor that I’m going to share can be a portal through which we access transformative power. Without overselling it, this is perhaps the strongest power in the universe.

The caveat is that this power is packaged in simplicity. This means some will dismiss my claim as impossible. Sometimes beauty is not always obvious or complicated.

The metaphor is that of a three-sided cage. Imagine a prison that has impenetrable steel bars on only three walls and where the fourth wall should be is only open space. Of course we chuckle because a prison of three walls is anything but a prison. This is precisely the point as well as the tragedy.

A dog crate with no door defeats the point of the crate because dog seeking freedom simply walks away. If we come across such a crate and inside is a dog that is too fearful to go and be a dog, then we begin to see beyond the metaphor. Eyes to see.

The human condition is such as the fearful dog.

Sometimes the cage is not our own. We are born into families, geographies, economies, and systems that imprint upon us a particular shape despite our unique dimensions. Deep within our most sober-minded moments we intuit something of our true form. I call this proximity and in its shadow we question the tensile strength of our walls.

Throughout life we find ourselves in a cage that claims ownership and threaten us. It keeps us fearful or at least distracted. What would become of us if we turn away from our bars and face the wide-open space?

Sometimes the cage is our own creation. We’ve been warned about the non-existent wall and out of the corner of our eyes we have glimpsed its vast expanse with all of its uncertainty. There is marginal safety within the bars. We cannot cross through them, but neither can anything else cross over to us. We like life predictable. We have been pressed into an identity that we have accepted as our own. It’s good enough. Better the known in prison than unknown freedom, right?

This metaphor is powerful and universal. Every category of life retells this deeply spiritual and personal story. The cage is where we turn loose of hope and settle.

  • It’s true in small ways like our addictions and prejudices.
  • It’s true in big ways like our relationships and religion.

The three walls around us are selling a message and a tattoo gun. If we believe their pitch we will engrave our lives with their slogans that mask the truth. Their goal is to keep us small, stuck, fearful, disempowered, broken, poor and discouraged.

  • “You’re not good enough, smart enough, and talented enough.
  • You’re ugly, bad, or unworthy.
  • You’re not one of the lucky ones.
  • Better play it safe in here.
  • You’ll be alone and rejected or punished if you leave.”

There is another voice. It comes from outside. It’s still and small by comparison. Despite it’s faintness, we all hear it. It seems confident in us. It seems to know that deep down cry within us that the three walls want us to forget.

  • “Come out!
  • It’s worth the risk.
  • Taste and see.
  • You cannot be you inside there.”

“Ek-Kaleo” is the Greek transliteration that means “The Called out Ones”. It’s the scripture’s word for Church. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Kind of redefines things doesn’t it?

This big story of the universe is true down to every particle. Religion tries to control it so it can wield its power, but it’s bigger than religious containers.  Coaches, educators, legislators and leaders try to leverage its community, but none of their systems can adequately possess it.

This metaphor is made of something other. It can’t be learned through dogma. It can’t be memorized in a creed or chant. It’s inaccessible to anything but experience. We can only point to it until we take action. The Good News is that faith is not a prerequisite for entrance but rather the byproduct of THE experience.

Leaving the cage to face the open space is each time a new birth. It’s what religion calls salvation. What will we become if we follow this voice to go outside? Only the awakened heart can know.

May we trust the voice that calls us out of our many prisons! May we never break faith with its guidance! A few steps beyond the cage and we enter the exile of freedom which enlarges us to where we can never go back. Our liberation enables us to see our many cages and that deep down cry within us changes from suffering to gratitude.

Then and only then do we learn that which leads us to our true self by definition cannot be us.

3 thoughts on “The Three-Sided Cage

  1. Is there anything more terrifying for us than facing who we could actually be if we let go of systematic, fear-based confinement? I thank you for this post that I truly needed to read. Now back to my three sided cage.

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