I was just reading the first part of the 1843 story A Christmas Carol, and found the chain metaphor an interesting one. Scrooge’s deceased partner Jacob Marley was wrapped in chains he forged for himself through earthly endeavors. He toiled ceaselessly in his business and thus wore the fruits of his labor.
As Jesus said: No man can serve two masters: for either he shall hate the one, and love the other, or else he shall lean to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and riches.
And in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says: At the end of time, he, who having abandoned his mortal frame, departeth thinking only of me, without doubt goeth unto me; or else, whatever other nature he shall call upon, at the end of life, when he shall quit his mortal shape, he shall ever go unto it. Wherefore at all times think of me alone and fight. Let thy mind and understanding be placed in me alone, and thou shalt, without doubt, go unto me.
It’s interesting to think we’re creating the chains in this realm that we’ll carry into the next. It reminds us to heed the focus of our time and energy lest we carry a burden we wish not.
At the very least, if we’re to carry chains, we should forge them from the things we adore. Yet in spiritual lore, the goal is to remove the bonds entirely. And we do that by detaching from the fruits of our labor while we endeavor.
We perform action not as a wretched creature lost to life, but as a master actor fulfilling his role on stage, aware of an ever-present audience, and joyfully performing the part we were meant to play.