Once upon a time, there lived a cowherd who took the cows to the meadows every morning and brought them back to the cow shed in the evening. Before he left for the night, he made sure that all the cowswere properly tied to their posts so that they would not wander away in the night.
One evening, he found that one of the cows was missing its rope.The boy was in a fix. He couldn't leave the cow untied as she would probably runaway and get lost. It was important to make sure the cow would be safe and secure through the night. It was already dark and too late to go and buy a new rope from town which was quite far away.
There lived a monk nearby. The cowherd approached him, thinking he may have some spare rope with which he could tie up the cow. When he narrated his dilemma to the monk, he just smiled and said to him, "Don't worry my child. Just go back to the cow, stand next to her and pretend that you are tying her. Make sure that the cow sees you doing it, and that will be enough. The cow will stay where she is.'' That sounded funny, but the wisdom which of the monk made the boy follow what he said.
"The boy went back to the cow shed and did as the monk had told him. He pretended that he was tying the cow to the post. When the boy returned the next morning, he found to his amazement that the cow had remained absolutely still throughout the night. The boy untied all the cows as usual and was about to go to the meadows,when he noticed that the cow with the missing rope was still lying down next to the post. He tried to coax her back to the herd, but she wouldn't budge. The boy thought the monk had cast some magic on his cow which had made her stay put there without moving.
The boy was perplexed, so he went back to the monk to ask him remove the magic and let his cow move. The monk listened to the boy and smiled. ''Look, my child", he said, "the cow still thinksthat she is bound to the post. Yesterday when the rope was missing, you pretended that you were tying her. This morning you untied all the cows except this particular one. You thought it wasn't necessary as she wasn't actually tied up.But because of your little act last night,the cow still believes that she is tied to the post. So now you have to go back and pretend that you are setting her free. It is all in the mind of the cow and there is no magic in this.'' The boy returned to the cow and pretended to untie her. The cow immediately got up and ran off to join the herd.
Due to our ignorance, we believe that we are bound just like the cow, when, in fact, we are completely free. We are not bound. Most of our bondage are imaginary. We all know it so well.. We know we are free souls and always have been free.. but like the cow, we see the imaginary ties being tied and somewhere deep in our souls we feel we are bound to so many relationships, nations, caste, society etc. We can run and join the herd or can wait for some one to come over and untie the imaginary bond we have created in our lives.... The choice is always left to us. I know I have a choice.