The Instincts Are Prison
The next prison to consider is that we live under the influence of the instincts. We are under the instincts' power. All living things, whether people, animals, or plants, have instincts. These instincts constantly force us to follow their concerns and needs. This is especially true for the sexual or reproductive instinct. How much does it control, hassle, activate, and complicate us? Sexual feelings and reproductive urges squeeze us, oppress us, disturb us so profoundly; they force us through all kinds of difficulties. But we can't stop. Sometimes we prefer it this way. Our children grow and mature to the stage where the sexual instinct ripens completely and then the child is caught in the prison of this sexual instinct.
Finally, even the instinct of showing off can run our lives. Many people wouldn't think of this as an instinct, but all animals have it. The need to show off, to brag, to display oneself is an instinct. Even animals have the condition of wanting to show off that they are beautiful, or strong, or agile, or whatever. Even this craziest, most ridiculous instinct is a prison. We want to show off and boast. If it wasn't a prison, it wouldn't force and oppress us in the least. Now, however, it forces us to buy beautiful clothing, beautiful jewelry, beautiful shoes even, and lots of them, too!
Why must we have many beautiful shirts and many pairs of beautiful shoes? Why do we need them all? (And forgive me, we must mention the women in particular here.) There is this instinct to show off and it is one kind of prison. Because people can't endure it, they are forced to follow this instinct, spending all kinds of money on all kinds of things. The instinct to show off is the funniest, most ridiculous of them all. Still it truly is a prison. People never have enough money because of this prison. Please consider and reflect carefully about these examples of instincts which we have raised. They are prisons too.
If we think about this, if we make an account of all our expenses, we'll discover that some people spend more money on clothing, jewelry, and keeping themselves always beautiful than they spend on food. Further, they insist on decorating and prettying up their houses, which piles up their expenses. Taken together, the two are more than they spend on food, which is necessary for life. We put more money into things which are unnecessary in life than we put into the necessities of life, like food. This is one more way of getting caught in the instinctual prison.