No, this is not an article about dissolving a third marriage! This is about untying the knots that we make in our minds. Whenever we tie ourselves to someone or something, we make a knot. Over time, these knots accumulate, and our minds become nothing but large balls of tangled twine.

A mind full of knots has little room to grow. If we want to grow, and we should want to grow (otherwise we are dead), we have to do one of two things; either untie all the knots, which is tedious and painful, or throw out the entire ball of twine so that no more knots can form.

Let’s say that we decide to untie all the knots. Hoo boy, this is not good; now we must investigate every knot that we have made in the past, little ones, large ones, and find out how to untie them. The fact is, however, we don’t really want to untie any of them, even the little ones, because we depend upon them for our pleasure and security. There is a downside, however, always a down side, and the down side is that for every knot we make and refuse to untie, we give up a little bit of our freedom, and our soul, because knots are formed in existence, and keep us from God.

Okay, let’s agree that we don’t have the gumption to untie any knots. Well then, maybe we can keep from tying more! But that doesn’t work either, because we make knots when we attach ourselves to something or someone, and it’s just too easy to do, as easy as falling in love. We can fall in love with a pair of shoes, a breakfast cereal, or a Ferrari; there are millions of things to fall in love with every day. So how are we ever going to free our minds from all the knots that we are creating, because the more knots we form, the further we find ourselves alienated from reality; from God.

Attachments are like snares; easy to slip into and almost impossible to escape from. As long as there is no need for escape, no problem, it is only when we decide to move on that the snare cuts in. So why in the world would we ever want to untie a knot anyway?

When we are caught a snare, we no longer have the freedom to do as we choose. It’s like an animal that is caught in a trap; they can’t get free, and they eventually thirst to death. We don’t thirst to death, but we die in other ways, because our attachments always become our prisons.

The wonderful house comes with a mortgage, insurance, maintenance, and taxes. The wonderful spouse comes with, well . . . maintenance! Everything we attach to and love pulls us out of our freedom. Sure, it’s nice to say that we live for others, but do we really? That might be a delusion. Our living for others could be no more than a trick of the ego to make us feel important. We might only live for ourselves. This would be evident if we become disappointed when others don’t appreciate what sacrifices we have made for them, or if we are angry all the time, of if we never laugh at ourselves. If we were completely selfless, what others thought would matter not at all, and there would be no anger whatsoever.

Let’s face it, that huge ball of twine that finds itself all knotted up is none other than the image we have formed in our minds of ourselves. We use the same image-forming process with everything else in the world, as we form images rather than look at the reality of things, and we do this because our minds are all knotted up.

This is a classic Catch 22, where we see life in images rather than how life actually is because our minds are tied up in knots, and our minds are tied up in knots as a result of living life in images! Can you see the incongruity in all of this?

Therefore, the only way to escape the snares and stop living life in images is to see clearly. There; now your problems are solved! Just see clearly. This would be like telling a novice tennis player to show up at Wimbledon and not worry about it. Just hit the ball!

Okay, so how do we go about seeing clearly? First of all, when we don’t see clearly, we become confused about life. We deem things important that are not, such as opinions and ambition based on nothing but images that appear concrete. We disregard truly important things such as unconditional love and compassion based on life as it really is, which is tenuous and uncertain. One way leads to war, the other to purity.

So how can we see clearly? That is for you to discover for yourself, no one can teach you that, just as no one can teach you how to be courageous. As a suggestion, you might want to begin by simply watching your thoughts every evening just before retiring. That’s where you will eventually find the ball of string . . . and the knots.


Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center,
His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit