Sunday, July 3, 2016

7/4/16—Contemplating Freedom

It's the Fourth of July in the US, which means we're celebrating our freedom. But I'll bet most people don't think too much about being free. It's just a given for the sense that the 4th of July is about. But how free are we really? 

I've mentioned here before about the weird experiences I had when I was 3, 4 and 5 in my creepy bedroom in a house about a mile or so from where I live now. Well, one of the things I remember contemplating there was freedom. I think I must have had a past life where I was somehow restricted, because my pre-school mind used to contemplate the notion that nobody can truly imprison you, unless you let them. What I mean by that is that freedom is a concept that resides in the mind. 

Sure, you can restrict someone physically—put them in jail or chain them to a metal stake you had installed in your basement for solicitors and Jehovah's Witnesses who don't read the unwelcoming sign clearly posted on your front door (not that I would know anything about anything like that.) But, without drugs, surgery or electrodes, nobody can touch your mind if you don't let them. As long as you maintain your mind's ability to go places without the limits of body, space and time, you're free. 

Yeah, I know. It's an odd thing for a 3, 4 or 5 year old to contemplate. What's weirder is that I felt I had to be ready to face the eventuality of being able to find my Zen under any conditions. And, with the exception of torturous pain, I probably can. I don't know for how long, but it's odd that I still think of this so many years later. I have no idea why I thought some of the things I did in that house, whether it was my age, my imagination, some sort of haunting, past-life thoughts or what. But I know I had many sleepless hours trapped inside that creepy, shoebox-sized crypt to think about all sorts of frightening things. And, for some reason, this was one of them. 

The way in which we lose the most freedom in our mind is by holding on. We grasp onto thoughts and fears and behaviors and they become our captors. Maybe we're holding on to the need to be right or the need to control something. Maybe we're holding on to past anger or regrets. Or maybe we've told ourselves some story about the way things are and we refuse to consider other options. All of these are prisons that make unable to be free.

The bad news is that we're conditioned to hold ourselves captive to thoughts and mindsets that distract us from being in the only place freedom exists—in the present moment. The good news is that we're the people most qualified to save ourselves from this conditioning and experience freedom instead. 

Freedom doesn't come from tossing tea into a harbor or slaughtering soldiers in battle. It actually comes from the opposite. It comes from surrender. It comes from giving up the fight against "what is". It comes from letting a higher power take command of the reigns that hold your life together. And it comes from giving yourself over to a world devoid of preconceived notions and filled with infinite possibility. 

While things like hunger, discomfort and torture make it difficult, if not impossible, the mind is strong enough to transcend any restriction you place on the body. There is a place within you that can't be touched by anything you don't allow it to—it's a seed of God...a chunk of the most powerful force in the universe. And you know it's always accessible, because no matter what conditions people face in this world, there are happy people everywhere, people who transcend, people who are free. As the universe expands, so do we. Freedom is about being present to enjoy the ride. 

This is a repost/refresh of a post from two years ago.