Yoga or religion is intended to break down the ego which is the prison of the soul. It demands unwinking vigilance to ensure that the sadhana or a virtuous life itself does not become a prison-house, reinforcing the ego! Virtue, created and maintained by a wrong motive or egoistical attitude, is prison.
This does not mean that we ever sanction vice; if a seeker exposes himself to sin, he will never be able to reach the goal. What is needed is virtue as a fortress. But the difference is this: the key of the fortress is in your keeping; the key of the prison-house is in another’s.
The spiritual hero dares to be virtuous. The coward is scared to err, though he would very much like to! The hero can go beyond the walls of the fortress, but remains within it because the glitter of the external world does not delude him.
The impotent man imagines he is free in his dark prison-cell.
Swami Venkatesananda – The Song of God – jan 15th