Digging A Way Out by Guy Finley – Story and Explanation

Prison Wall with Tower & Barbed-Wire FenceThere's a man who has been by himself in a prison cell with a dirt floor, crude stone walls, and there's two windows one of which looks out towards the ocean.

All of the sudden, he hears a scratching noise, and he looks down at the ground that is furthest away from the window facing the ocean. He sees the ground moving, and he starts to think he's losing his mind.

But soon the ground breaks, and up pops a head with long hair and a beard… it's a prisoner.

And the prisoner says “Sssh. Listen. A group of us have been tunneling for about six years, and we've finally reached your cell. We have ways to cover up my entrance into this, but now it's all on your shoulders, man. All you have to do,” he said while pointing out the window towards the ocean, “you just start digging here and go down about six feet and about 75 feet in that direction and there is freedom, and we're outta here!”

“Oh, I love that! That's great; I want to be free!”

“Okay, I'll check back with you in a few weeks.”

Two weeks later, the pops back in to check on his friend's progress, and his friend nods back with great affirmation. “Yeah, I've done it.”

So the man who was providing the instructions pops down the hole, and two seconds later pops right back up and says, “What have you done?!?!?”


“I told you to dig in the direction towards the OCEAN! This tunnel that you dug goes back under the wall and into the prison yard.”

“Well, the digging was easier in the other direction…”

Guy Finley is the best-selling author of The Secret of Letting Go and more than 30 other books and audio albums that have sold over a million copies in 16 languages worldwide.

In addition, he has presented over 4,000 unique self-realization seminars to thousands of grateful students throughout North America and Europe over the past 20 years and has been a guest on over 400 television and radio shows, including national appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, Wisdom Network, and many others.

To get your free “7 Steps to Oneness” audio program from Guy Finley, click here.

What Is the Spiritual Message / Moral of the “Digging A Way Out” Story?

This story whispers profound truths about the importance of discernment and the power of clarity in navigating life's paths. It resonates as a testament to the significance of listening attentively to the guidance life offers. The man's initial error in misinterpreting the direction to freedom mirrors our tendencies to misconstrue the signs and messages presented to us. It urges us to embrace a deeper discernment, to listen not just with our ears but with the wisdom of our hearts, ensuring that we align ourselves with the true direction of growth and liberation.

At its essence, this tale echoes the significance of resilience and adaptability in the face of unexpected circumstances. The man's decision to dig in the “easier” direction, despite the explicit instruction, reflects the human inclination to choose comfort and convenience over the perceived difficulty of the authentic path. It serves as a gentle reminder that the path to true freedom often requires us to transcend the allure of the familiar and comfortable, nudging us towards resilience and adaptability in the pursuit of our aspirations.

The story also holds a mirror to the essence of accountability and responsibility for our actions. The man's inadvertent mistake in choosing the wrong direction is a reflection of the consequences that arise from our choices. It echoes the profound truth that our decisions, whether conscious or unconscious, shape the course of our lives. It beckons us to embrace accountability for our actions, urging us to own the outcomes born from our choices and to remain vigilant in our decisions' alignment with our true desires.

Beyond the surface, this parable speaks to the importance of perspective and vision in our endeavors. The man's tunnel, though dug diligently, lacked the necessary foresight and depth of vision. His shortsightedness exemplifies the necessity of envisioning the broader context of our goals. It invites us to cultivate a deeper perspective, encouraging us to envision the end goal and consider the holistic impact of our actions, transcending mere short-term ease for the fulfillment of our greater purpose.

Moreover, this story weaves a thread that resonates with the essence of learning through experience. The man's error, though a setback, serves as a valuable lesson in his journey toward liberation. It underscores the significance of embracing failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth. Each misstep becomes a teacher, guiding us toward a deeper understanding of ourselves and the paths that lead us closer to our true aspirations.

In conclusion, this spiritual story dances with profound spiritual teachings, illuminating the intricate dance between guidance, choices, and the consequences that follow. It beckons us to embrace discernment, resilience, accountability, vision, and the wisdom that springs forth from learning through experience. Through the prism of this story, we are reminded to tread our paths mindfully, listening not just to external instructions but to the whispers of our inner wisdom, steering us towards the true freedom we seek.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflect on the imagery of the prison cell and its surroundings, including the ocean view. How does this setting evoke feelings of confinement and longing for freedom in your own life experiences?
  2. Contemplate the symbolism of the tunneling prisoners and their quest for freedom. How does their perseverance and ingenuity inspire reflection on the human spirit's capacity to overcome obstacles and pursue liberation?
  3. Explore the theme of opportunity and responsibility highlighted by the prisoner's unexpected encounter with the tunnel. How does this narrative prompt reflection on the choices we make when presented with paths to freedom or change?
  4. Reflect on the man's initial excitement at the prospect of freedom and his subsequent misunderstanding of the instructions. How does this narrative invite contemplation on the consequences of misinterpretation and the importance of clarity in communication?
  5. Consider the implications of the man's deviation from the intended direction of the tunnel. How does this narrative prompt reflection on the theme of resilience and adaptability in the face of unexpected challenges or setbacks?
  6. Contemplate the role of perspective in shaping the man's actions and decisions. How does his focus on the ease of digging in one direction overshadow the importance of following instructions and staying true to the intended path?
  7. Reflect on the significance of the prisoner's return to check on his friend's progress. How does this act of accountability and support prompt reflection on the importance of community and mutual aid in navigating life's challenges?
  8. Explore the theme of missed opportunities and the consequences of complacency highlighted by the man's failure to dig in the correct direction. How does this narrative inspire contemplation on the potential risks of taking shortcuts or neglecting careful consideration in pursuit of goals?
  9. Contemplate the emotions evoked by the prisoner's reaction to the man's mistake. How does this moment of disappointment and frustration resonate with experiences of encountering unexpected obstacles or setbacks in your own journey?
  10. Reflect on the broader implications of the story's message for personal growth and resilience. How does this narrative inspire contemplation on the importance of perseverance, clear communication, and staying true to one's intentions in the pursuit of freedom and fulfillment?



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