On Escaping from Prison

Posted on December 28, 2016 by Robert Ringer


In his book In Search of the Miraculous, the great 20th century thinker, philosopher, and writer, Russian-born P.D. Ouspensky, shares the following insight by his mentor, G.I. Gurdjieff:

If a man in prison was at any time to have a chance to escape, then he must first of all realize that he IS in prison. So long as he fails to realize this, so long as he thinks he is free, he has no chance whatever. No one can help or liberate him by force, against his will, in opposition to his wishes. If liberation is possible, it is possible only as a result of great labor and great efforts, and, above all, of conscious efforts, towards a definite aim.

Think about Gurdjieff’s observation as it applies to many modern-day imprisonments. People are imprisoned by unhappy marriages, unfulfilling jobs, or cities they live in but intensely dislike. Others are imprisoned by crusades, slogans, or dogmas, and still others by guilt, hatred, or envy.

Though few ever recognize it, the majority of people, certainly in the Western world, have the power to escape most of the conditions that imprison them. That’s because most people’s imprisonments are usually caused by their belief systems or, quite often, nothing more than lethargy.

Which is why a person’s freedom begins with his realization that he himself possesses the mental key to his prison door. Once he acknowledges this reality and makes a commitment to do something about it, all he needs to add to the equation to bring about his complete escape is action.

The next time you’re feeling down, search your mind for signs of imprisonment. If you find that the source of your imprisonment is hiding there, recognize that it is within your power to turn your mental key and open the door — then be sure to take action.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

21 responses to “On Escaping from Prison”

  1. TheLookOut says:

    Robert, Thanks again for the reminder that our own personal freedom
    is usually between our own two ears. I'm constantly amazed at how
    many souls choose to be imprisoned. There are many things beyond our
    control, but choosing to be a victim is not one of them.

  2. Jurgy says:

    Thank you Robert, you are exactly right – decide what you want, and take action – it is an incredibly simple formula, but there is work involved … those that do the work are the people we admire – the leaders, the innovators, the celebrities, and the wealthy …

  3. kunle says:

    This is true but not an easy option in many cases. An example of this is a woman who finds herself in an unhappy marriage but bcos many young children whose future matter to her most, may continue to endure hardship for them to grow up a little bit. Also the fear of the unknown makes it difficult for most of us to leave our comfort zones eg s well paying job from which no job satisfaction is derived.

  4. Val vfinnell says:

    I read Winning Through Intimidation when I was 12 years old quickly followed by Looking Out for Number One. This was in the early 1980s. I've been a fan ever since.

    I see mental imprisonment being being a form of the "tend to" theory. If people tend to believe their own BS, then it's easy to see how we all can be self-deceived and put ourselves into prisons of our own making.

    Thanks, Robert.

  5. earl says:

    dang Robert you did it again made me go out and but another book …Happy New Year

  6. Rick Harmon says:

    Reminds me of how young elephants are trained with heavy ropes as young calves and graduated to smaller roles as they grow larger. They are restrained by small ropes which they do not resist, due to their mental conditioning.

  7. Richard Head says:

    HE'S BAAAAACK. This is the Robert Ringer I respect and admire!

    Excellent piece sir!

    Happy New Year!


    Richard "D.I.C.K"* Head
    @politicalfolks.com http://www.politicalfolks.com/

    *Declarant of Independence from the Capital (D.C.) Karma

  8. larajf says:

    I'm working on teaching this to my daughter. When she fails, she is not the failure. And she failed because of things within her control. Therefore it's also within her control to make course corrections to success.

  9. Michael Ponzani says:

    Shades of Vernon Howard.

  10. Lana says:

    Great reminder, especially for starting a new year. Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

  11. Rocketman says:

    Excellent article Robert and something that just about everyone to some degree can relate to.

  12. Guido says:

    The Tortoise has done it again: another retread post, this time from December 3, 2013. At least he changed the first sentence this time.

    Tortoise, from now on, how about a little truth in post titling?

    • Daniel says:

      Dang, Guido. Get a grip. Who cares if something has been posted before? If it's of good quality and relevant to today; post it! Does the fact that The Bible has been quoted perhaps more than any other tome in history make its content, its lessons, its relevance of any less value? Nay! If it hasn't been read by someone, prior to posting, it's new to him; he benefits from its value; he's edified. Take solace in the notion that the old is forever new – to someone. Peace, bro.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      Our webmaster was supposed to remove you from our mailing list. Sorry you were subjected to a free rerun once again. We'll will repeat our instructions to have you removed so you won't be burdened with this kind free stuff in the future – but the easiest thing is for you just to unsubscribe in case you are using multiple email addresses.

  13. Robby Bonfire says:

    This is an excellent premise. I believe that this planet is, figuratively, on fire, because good people everywhere are enslaved by ~militants.~ Any time I cross, and I recommend that anytime you cross paths with someone who is militant as regards politics, social issues – starting with the N.O.W. radicals and environmentalist freakazoids who are always in your face; mushroom cloud nationalism (your basic Hitler syndrome), racial venom toward differing people; religious fanatics (such as the zombies in the Middle East who buy into the teachings of some book that tells them to kill non-believers), and so on.

    Also I submit the list of extremely dangerous militants should include money-grubbing militants, given that virtually everyone in the world will do ~anything~ for money, including contract killers who will take you or me out for a fat payday. Essentially neither you nor I have any real friends given that a so-called friend will sell out you and me in a heartbeat, if the price is right, or under oversight authority agency pressure to do so, so that your friend will walk in exchange for incriminating testimony, while YOU serve the 20-year rap.

    Cull all the militants you can from your life, they are all around you. And they are totalitarian control freaks trucking no opposition to anyone espousing a contrarian point of view.

    What kind of world would this be if there were no militancy? Well, scratch all the wars, scratch all the crimes of passion connected with militant causes, scratch all the hypocrisy, just for starters. Of course this will never happen, so the best we can do is be aware of the demonic hordes on a mission that are all around us, and behave prudently, accordingly. After all, your reasoned temperament is no match for their sadistic and suicidal passions.

    • Jose Jackson says:

      Or maybe some of the militants will get an attack of conscience and go away on their own and stop being a dirty bird of a turd. Unlikely if they were college educated since they got brain washed to believe there special and act elite.

  14. Jose Jackson says:

    There will always be politics. I mentioned to a relative that another relative called them a bitch. Well that person had a teacher sister that made sure I got grades that were rather low when I went to that school, and most of the teachers were rather hostile to me. Even got another relative who is a psycho that works in the sheriffs office continuing the same thing. Fine works of human beings. Total trash.

    • Jean says:

      One question – what would motivate you to notify the one relative that another had called her a bitch? Wasn't that a wee bit malicious on your part? And did you not consider the possibility of repercussions? It still comes down to controlling your own actions, doesn't it? It sounds like you relish stirring up trouble and then playing the victim when it bites you in the butt. And without being the least bit psychic, I'll bet you are surrounded by a lot of hostile people all of the time. We reap what we sow, don't we?

      • Jose Jackson says:

        Only people hostile to me are folks that are buttinski that don't mind their own business and think they are special for being a buttinski. Beyond rude.

Leave a Reply