Jim Dreaver on Freedom

At the level that most people relate to the notion of freedom, it means the freedom to express ourselves however wish: to choose our work or career, our friends, our politics, our religion, to choose where we live. Yet there is another way to understand freedom. At its most vital level, it means the freedom to be, to be the beautiful, conscious person you are. It is to be inwardly free, not restricted or bound by any sense of personal limitation, not subject to emotional reactivity. You always feel relaxed, at peace, and open to life in each and every moment.

As you begin to master the art of being free in this way, your life becomes more and more a harmonious, deeply satisfying flow. Out of your relaxed state of contentment in the present, you do what you feel called to do, what you love to do, or, simply, whatever needs to be done. Authentic action, or doing, flows out naturally of being. As Lao Tzu said, in the Tao Te Ching: The way to do is to be.

As a result of what you do, you will have certain results, the fruits of your actions, whether in your relationships, work, health, recreation, money situation, or whatever. You will be able to enjoy these results fully because you are not depending upon them for your inner peace and well-being. Because you know how to be, you already are at peace within. The outer gifts in life are like a bonus, icing on the cake.

So, how do you get to this state of inner freedom, the freedom simply to be? The quickest and simplest path I know of, and the subject of this book, is to undergo the shift in perception that leads directly to inner freedom.

What is that shift? Essentially, it is seeing that are not your story. You are not any story. You are not your psychological and emotional history, nor are you your self-image. You are not your cultural, ethnic, national, social, or religious story.

All your stories, memories, experiences, have shaped your personality but they are still only that: your stories. They may have been real once, but are definitely not real now. They are an illusory world existing between your ears, in the form of fleeting thoughts, beliefs, pictures, and ideas of self, with corresponding feelings and emotions in your body.

When conflict or suffering arises, or when your buttons get pushed, it is because a person or an event, real or imagined, contradicts your view or expectation, your story, about the way things should be, or ought to be. The conflict is experienced as a disturbing feeling or emotion, whether of anxiety, fear, or something else, in your body.

However, the upsetting feelings and emotions only exist because of the stories that fuel them, that keep them alive. When you are not holding onto any story in your mind, but are simply very aware and relaxed in the present, your emotional state is always one of ease, harmony, and flow. This is a very important point to understand if you are at all interested in finding true inner peace.

What can be said to be real right now is the fact that you are alive, present, and reading this book. What is real now is that you exist. You are conscious of existing, of being alive. In fact, your true nature, the one thing that is always present, whether you are asleep or awake, whether you are aware of it or not, is consciousness itself.

What you are in your essence is the lucid, unchanging consciousness that gives birth to everything in the world of senses, including all your stories, memories, and to your body, mind, and this unique personality called you.

To understand this is to grasp the literal meaning of St. Francis’s words: What we are looking for is what is looking. You become aware of yourself as consciousness, or awareness, or presence, itself. Or, to use the language of St. Francis, you become aware of yourself as God. We are all, each one of us, individualized expressions of the divine. There is no God separate from us. We are It.

To know this, to find your identity not in stories but in the moment by moment flow of being, is true freedom. It is the perceptual shift that results in genuine self-knowing, in what in the language of the East is called awakening, enlightenment, or self-realization. Then each day becomes rich in love, and full of meaning and purpose. We are inspired to write a new, conscious story for ourselves, a story that works for us, that supports our own and others well-being.

We begin, literally, to infuse our lives, our relationships, and our work with this ever-new consciousness, and the positive, creative stories that flow out of it. As a result, our power to manifest what we truly need and want is greatly magnified.

Let me give you an example, a story, which will illustrate what I am saying: I was teaching a workshop at Esalen Institute in September of this year. Esalen is an alternative education center devoted to the exploration of human potential, situated on California’s rugged Big Sur coast.

On the third morning of a five-day workshop, one of the women participants came in and reported how she had been to Esalen many times during the past few years, and there was one man on the staff there with whom she had some personal issues. Well, she saw the man that morning and was figuring out how to avoid him, when she suddenly remembered the practice I had presented in the workshop.

She stopped, turned her attention inward, and looked at the story she was telling herself around this man. Then she realized it was just that: a story. She saw, almost in the same breath, that she was not the story, not any story. Rather, she was what looked at the story. She was the consciousness, the lucid, ever-present awareness behind the story.

When she saw that, the story dissolved, the emotional tension created by being attached to the story and wanting to avoid a confrontation, dissipated, and she felt freer, clearer, more present. She then went up to the man and had a totally fresh, new interaction with him.

Of course, that woman did not become completely free from that one insight, but it was a beginning. It cracked an opening in her ego, and all the stories that hold it together, and she had a glimpse of the freedom that is her true nature.

© Jim Dreaver, 2006

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About Lisa

I live in South Africa with my husband and two small children, doing things, thinking about things and sometimes writing about them.
This entry was posted in awareness, inspiring words and images, meditation, observations, relationships, society and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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