I recently watched a documentary where a popular singer gave a rousing performance of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” at a religious gathering. By the time he brought the song to a climactic end, thousands of people were caught up in a frenzy — crying out in a unison of heated passion over love and its possibility for bringing peace to a weary world. But, as should be well-evidenced by now, spiritual “fires” such as these last only as long as conditions conspire to create them, and any sudden downpour of dark moments serves to douse them, quickly extinguishing one’s hope for heaven on earth.
What we need, if we are to succeed with our spiritual task of changing ourselves and the world in which we live, is to stir ourselves up in the right way, in the right moment, and then act in accordance with what we know is true.
What good is the love of truth without standing up for the freedom it promises to those who love it? This means that we must find this passion for what is right and true while in the midst of all that seems wrong within and around us. We must dare to bring its flame into the midst of our storms, carrying it with us into the darkness that attends all times of trial. For only then and there will we see — as we stand in its light — that nothing dark is greater than the light of our God in whom we trust.
Question: Following the path you speak of gives me only temporary freedom from pain. This is actually my fault because after getting freedom, I forget to continue meditation, which gives past pain some time to regain strength to attack me at other times. How do I get permanent freedom?
Answer: I know it’s challenging, especially when one is working seemingly so all alone in the world as it must feel to you where you are at present, but try to understand the following. Freedom — real spiritual freedom — is not something that one possesses in the sense of an object, or the ideal. True freedom is the moment to moment flowering of one’s relationship with three elements: the unfolding event, the parts of us that reflect and resonate accordingly to that event, and the awareness we have of this one whole movement at the same time. Seeing properly, there is that which touches us, that which is touched, and the part of us that is capable of being, at once, something that is not only aware of this relationship, but changed by it and through it at the same time.
Your original Self doesn’t come loaded with worry, regret, fear, resentment, or, for that matter, any other self-limiting states that can grow where darkness gathers.
Self-limiting thoughts or feelings have power over us only when we are tricked into believing that we need something we don’t. When we let this happen, we begin to look at familiar negative thoughts and feelings as old friends; and though we want to be free of them, we still call on their powers to help us. We look to them to guide us, as when we walk and talk with worried thoughts, or when we embrace angry emotions for their short-term strength. But truth tells otherwise.
In and of themselves, negative states provide us with nothing of value. Instead, they make victims of all those who seek their counsel. A short example will help prove this last important point and reveal how we are deceived into acting against our own best interests.
When life falls apart, or threatens to come unglued, it seems almost natural to carry around some desperate, stressed, or depressed emotional state. But why cling to something that makes us ache? The answer is surprising, but evident, once we’re aware of what’s actually taking place within us.
Negative states tell us that we must feel as we do.
In some strange and unseen way, the weight of a dark worry serves as proof that we have “no option” other than to buckle beneath it . . . to fall down, feel betrayed, or prepare for a fight.
To awaken, reclaim, and possess the courage we need to be free, we must remember this great and timeless truth: Real life can no more act to pull us down than the rising sun can burden the spring flowers that wait to bathe in its nourishing light.