When we strive to be free, when we try to release ourselves from the burdens that we have laid upon ourselves, we miss the point: we are already free.
We simply forget that we are free. We forget by becoming bogged down in our difficulties, by pitting ourselves against others, and fighting for what we want. Actually, we already have everything we need, but because we don't know and understand this, and because we are insecure, we try to get more.
We are already secure, completely secure, but because of our misunderstood and deluded images and perceptions of what we really are, there is the idea that we are in danger both physically, psychologically, and maybe even spiritually. We believe that the physical body is us, and once we buy into that, our problems and fears escalate exponentially. How could anyone ever feel secure trapped in a very temporary, delicate organism that is susceptible to all kinds of dangers seen and unseen, known and unknown? . . . Securing ourselves is a myth.
If we think about the final moments of life, when everything that we have strived for begins to fade into oblivion, we know that many times a peacefulness takes over our consciousness (if we have lived a good life!). So why is it okay to let go of everything then, and not while we are living?
There is a trick to both living, and letting go at the same time. Being completely at ease, yet taking care of the responsibilities of a human being is actually the only way that human beings can coexist without conflict. And this way of life is the way of letting go of learning to live in freedom.
The way we live now is in fear. We compete. We are afraid that we will not be successful, or that we will not survive, and yet those two are our destiny regardless. So instead of clearly seeing, from awareness, what needs to be done step by step and doing only that, we overact and overdo from fear. And when we act from fear, the outcome is always predictable . . . confused.
But usually we can't simply read an article and understand these things; the mind doesn't work that way. A method or training is necessary to move the mind experientially from its present state of insecurity to a state of enlightenment. This can happen spontaneously, but in the vast majority of cases, this awakening only happens after one determines to see things in a new light, and then strives to make it happen.
The striving to see things in a new light, this wanting more than we have, admittedly becomes part of the problem of our lack of freedom, but this kind of problem is a problem that will eventually end all problems. Conversely, our everyday problems only increase our problems while only creating the false illusion of solving them.
If our minds aren't the kind that can change spontaneously upon hearing that it is free, then it must use a method. If we could just put this article down and instantly see clearly, without a method, that would be wonderful. . . . Try it! . . . Did it work? If not, then you might need a method, and maybe a method that is tried and true and has shown concrete results over many centuries. But the method is only the tools, and enlightenment can never result from only using tools. Only the tradesman that knows how to use the tools is what makes a thing of beauty. Mind is what uses the tools of method to enlighten itself.
Methods are only methods, however, and since we are inherently free, we should not get caught up in methods. We use them to see what we are and have always been, which is free, but then we must even let our methods go. If we hold on to them and attach to them, then we imprisoning ourselves once more.
This is not to say that we don't respect the method, which could be Buddhism, or Christianity. Or that we don't try to insure that the method will be there for the next person, but what we do differently now is to drop any kind of psychological attachment or dependency toward the method. If we don't, then our freedom quickly reverts into the images and concepts that have bogged us down in the past. Then we live in our past, buried in our past thoughts again instead of in each moment.
Only moment to moment awareness, untainted and clear, offers freedom. Anything else offers no freedom. Looking forward, looking back, attaching to our thoughts, emotions, our problems and our selves, these only cause constant conflict and stress that can't be resolved.
Undeveloped mind will convince us that we must learn from the past and then plan the future based on that past, and all the while we are never in the moment long enough to really live. We are forever lost to the past and the future, which are all dead and conceptual. We never actually live in reality; we live in images.
And if you can't understand all of this; if it seems too abstract, heady, and impractical, then I would suggest trying a method, a good one, whereby you can actually experience this precious moment, just one time. Then you could get a glimpse of real freedom.
Possibly the easiest, fastest method to do this is meditation, a practice that can be done by anyone, anytime and doesn't require a particular belief or religious doctrine. It is simply an inward introspection that reveals your true mind, a mind that is totally free.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center, http://www.SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com
His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers. Visit http://www.AYearToEnlightenment.com