Deeply within, every human being yearns for the FREE and ENJOYABLE life. Vernon Howard
Picture the word FREEDOM on a blank screen.
Now, describe your feelings as you think of your Freedom.
Within our current sociopolitical context, Freedom has been expressed by some as having free will, come hell or high water. In other words, it means I’ll do what I jolly well decide – no matter how it might affect anyone else.
On the other hand, for some, Freedom means having a safe zone in which one makes personal choices that are just that, personal. They are not considered as impactful upon others beyond one’s own personal space. It’s a “don’t fence me in” kind of mindset.
And, then there is a third, perhaps lesser known and lesser practiced meaning of Freedom. That is what I want to write about here. It is the kind of freedom that is available to every person on our planet. The means to this kind of freedom has been known, written about, and modeled throughout the ages. Yet, when we see it being practiced, we often stand back in awe, perhaps even doubting that it can be real. But real freedom always carves a path of evidences so energizing that we cannot help but notice and often cannot forget.
So, what is this third way to experience Freedom?
Think former U.S. representative, John Lewis, social activist and iconic leader. Or Senator John McCain who spent almost a decade in prison, to later become known throughout the world for his generosity, authenticity, and statesmanship.
Think Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for 27 years later to become President of South Africa.
Think Mother Teresa, tiny, humble Polish woman who cared for the lowliest of low in India and transformed the consciousness of millions who marveled at her compassion.
Think Victor Frankel, Jewish psychiatrist imprisoned in Nazi prison camp, who wrote MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING. Frankel stands among the most prominent co-creators of the Existential model for psychotherapy. Frankel, wrote that when one thought the Nazi’s had taken everything, they shaved the hair from their bodies but there was one invincible part of being human that they could not take and that was their Human Spirit!
Think Henry Ford, with less than a sixth-grade education, approaching Thomas Edison to ask his opinion about his dream of creating a system that would make it possible for everyday people to own an automobile. With Edison’s blessing, Ford proceeded to live from his dream.
Think yourself. Who is it within you, right this very moment, as you read these words? Some ideas. Some feelings, Perhaps a rising energy within your physical body. This inner you! This you that can notice what you are noticing. Who is this?
This you is free, meaning freedom is within you. It has the power to take you beyond the bounds of your physical body. Or, beyond the bounds of anything you have ever imagined. When you think about it, you know it is so. Think of the times when you’ve risked being rejected but you stood up for your principles and beliefs. Or think of a time when you’ve had a burst of insight and you just knew something without having any physical evidence that it was so. But you just knew it from somewhere deep within. This is the you that is free. This is the you that has been there all along. In the overwhelming midst of multiple external cues that tell you who you are, there is a you that knows that’s not so or if so not all of who you are.
Let’s think of freedom as a seed that when planted in fertile soil and is nurtured, pruned, and allowed to mature produces fruits or nuts or flowers that may be harvested for one or many purposes. Included within the harvest will be even more seeds that can be saved and planted to continue many more cycles.
So, think of us humans as freedom seeds. We have been planted here, some in fertile soil, some in rather harsh terrains, some with tough weather patterns, some spread by wind or birds, or ingested by animals and transported through their metabolism (pooped elsewhere to grow). So, again like seeds, we come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and intensities (among other qualities). But we are all part of one humanity, each of us yearning to be free to be fully who we are. Knowing this, resting in this truth allows us to treat one another with profound respect. It’s like we are mirrors for one another. Together, we are here to help one another grow into full maturity and to keep the process moving forward.
There is one other important piece about us humans having freedom that I want to discuss. This piece is the one that puzzles me still while it excites and enriches me every day. Freedom like this is not something that we rationally develop. It is not something reduced to a formula or that is prescribed in nice, neat steps. It’s more like a mature oak tree just being what it is without questioning how it got to maturity. It just is! It can be no other way. So, it’s freedom to be an oak tree was “baked in” to the acorn that it once was. The essence of oakness was held within the acorn and transformed through a completely dependable, predictable, repeatable process. It took time, many seasons, a whole ecosystem of support. This is how we humans are. There is a transcendent source of life, an intention, a pattern set for us as humans. It is dependable, predictable, repeatable, transcendent to us and yet intimately inherent to us. Once we see and accept this truth, we no longer have to toil and try to be something that we are not. We can show up, be who we are, and allow our essence, the inner core wisdom code, to manifest through our human form which we call our body and personality. The core of our being is our Essence. Well known author, Wayne Dyer called this being spiritual beings (essence/energy) having a human form (body/personality) experience.
Because we are not the authors but are the recipients of our lives, the beginning point is gratitude. This frees us to live from a place of humility. It also behooves us to ask of our Source/Creator, “So why have you sent me here? I need to know my purpose.”
Experience teaches us that as we listen to the still small voice within (it goes by many names) we come to know that we are powered from a source within and that every choice we make has consequences or implications. Each of our lives count. As someone said to me long ago, “Each of us is the most important person in someone else’s life.” We are all influential links in one very long chain of humanity. Any link missing is noticed somewhere. We literally cannot hide from our personal power to influence others. Our connectedness requires that we learn to co-create if we are to not only survive but to thrive.
Freedom means that we choose the way of power, wisdom, and love over fear, shame, and judgement.
Storms will come. Be sure of it. But, living our authentic identity, possessing inner resources, and demonstrating learned and practiced competencies, we buffet the storms, stay focused on true north, and arrive home to be welcomed by fellow travelers who have gone before us.
Vernon Howard in THE MYSTIC PATH TO COSMIC POWER, quotes Thomas R. Kelly, A TESTAMENT OF DEVOTION, who says that the awakened life is one in which we see through new eyes. We experience a life of peace and serene competence both inner and outer. In Kelly’s words, “It is a life that is freed from strain and anxiety and hurry, for something of the Cosmic Patience of God becomes ours.” In this awakened state we acknowledge infinite potential within that enables us to live from our dreams, having faith that the source of our dreams is faithful to empower us to fulfill them. We co-create a future of synergies and synchronicities. It is what Henry David Thoreau discovered while working as a handyman/landscape artist for Ralph Waldo Emerson. I’ve taken the liberty of personalizing Thoreau’s Code for us. Take a look and know this is your potentiality as well as Thoreau’s.
If I advance confidently in the direction of my dream, endeavoring to live the life I am imagining, I pass an invisible boundary and meet with a success unexpected in common hours. All sorts of things begin to occur that never otherwise would have occurred. New, more universal, liberal laws begin to establish themselves around me or the old laws are rearranged in my favor. Nevertheless, I begin to live with the license of a higher order of being.
To me, this is freedom at its best – living beyond the bounds of past sufferings or constraints while realizing my full life purpose.
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