The conquest of freedom
“Listen to your being. It is continuously giving you hints; it is a still, small voice. It does not shout at you, that is true. And if you are a little silent you will start feeling your way. Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself, whatsoever the cost. Risking all to be oneself, that’s what maturity is all about.” ― Osho
We can debate the meaning of freedom but for me it means to be who you are. Not the dualistic, badge-of-success person but the person you were born to be, fully present in each and every moment.
But it’s hard.
For a start, society, family and school informs you that to be something you have to become something, and off you go, chasing down one faux dream after another. (We’ve all been there.)
In the end, it’s tiring. For many, it’s the death of them — at least psychologically.
If you’ve read any of my blogs or listened to my podcasts, you’ll understand a number of themes: (1) drop everything, apply beginner’s mind and accept this moment as if you’d chosen it; and (2) wake up from your narcissistic torpor.
Now, of course, these are hardly new messages, and, in fact, they’re a compendium of a number of very eminent teachers. In case it’s not clear, all I’m doing is pointing to one irrefutable truth, namely: you are not your thoughts.
If you think I’ve seriously lost the plot, think of it this way: you can’t stop your thoughts; you can’t alter them, even by great gobs of willpower; and, on a fundamental level, there’s an awareness — a witnessing presence if you will — of those thoughts. (There has to be, or how would you even know of them?) If you’re willing to explore this aspect of life via mindfulness, testing each thought — good or bad — by asking is it true and/or letting the thought pass without holding on to it, then you’ll quickly discover life becomes easier. A lot easier. (You can see why Eckhart Tolle has established such a large following by writing about one, eternal truth: the ‘power’ is in the Now.) In fact, it’s like a weight’s lifted; and without feeling any loss of self-control, life takes on new meaning.
So there you have it.
Freedom from self (or moving towards true Self as Thomas Merton would have said.)
Just to be clear, freedom does not come about when we have everything — you can fill as many bucket lists as you like. No it starts and ends within. In a nutshell, if you can disidentify from your thoughts, you’re free.
And in case you think this a five-minute job (or even less — I’m not big on enlightenment), dream on. Even allowing for the fact you might accept the premise of what I’m saying, it’s a lot harder to accept the moment as if you’d chosen it, and not get distracted by the Lizard Brain (i.e. our egoic identity) who’s a past master/mistress at giving you another faux path to follow. What do I mean? Be careful that you don’t think by understanding this point, you give the ego something else to hold on to that then occupies you for the rest of your life. (I’ve met many people who think they’ve cracked the code but dig a little deeper and you realise, much like myself, that chasing liberation can become just as seductive as the next trinket, the next title or the next experience.)