THE WAY TO FREEDOM
By Valerie Stuart
The ego’s drive for self-preservation, which perhaps was necessary to establish life on this planet, is now what is destroying the planet, including its human host. If you could feel the loneliness, fear and desperation of people who appear to be happy, you would know that something is terribly wrong. We have gotten way off-course. Most of our systems do not support us to experience the true happiness of living in harmony with spirit, each other, and the earth.
The good news is, that millions of people know that they can no longer live in the tyranny of the false self’s constant cravings and fear. They feel another way calling them home. It is living from the truth of who we are and being connected with life in an ecstatic and incredible communion. This way of being is our natural birthright and is available to anyone who wants to breakout of the prison of the false self.
Underneath our self-concerns, lies a world of alive-presence and soul-nourishing communion within the web of life. The way back to this land of peace, is to put our attention on something deeper than thoughts, emotions, and preoccupation with the inner commentary about the story of "me."
Imagine a projector screen wrapped in a circle around someone’s head. Their mind is constantly projecting worries, concerns, agendas, and conditioned reality onto their screen. The person believes this projection is the world, but actually, it is a virtual-reality prison.
To escape this prison and enter into the “live communion” of actual reality, one has to let go of every idea and free-fall into the unknown. When you let go, then something outside of normal self-illusion, can finally catch you and take you on the most amazing journey of love and ongoing realization of the TRUE SELF.
It’s like all of your life, you’ve been skating on a frozen pond. You learned different steps to be good at skating, because that is what you were taught life was about – “mastering the ice.” Then one day you fall through the ice and you are in a new world where everything you learned won’t help you survive. Your feet try their usual steps, but you just sink deeper. As reality seeps into every pore, there is the realization that everything you were taught about life, was backwards.
Suddenly, you are breathing where you were told you shouldn’t be able to. And you are able to survive underwater on a delicate nectar more incredibly nourishing than anything you ever experienced on top. Your heart understands - it is you coming home to you.
it is not yours, yet you are it. You can’t keep it or control it, and yet, you are blessed by its gentle presence that in each moment brings you anew into a lush life beyond anything you could have created for yourself.
You realize that all of your life you tried to control everything and grasp onto relationships, jobs or financial security to buffer yourself from the anxiety of the unknown. However, underneath this gnawing void, is an incredible opportunity to meet THAT which you really are. The paradox is that “the only way out, is in.” One must stop trying to make something out of their life and let reality or Larger Self run the life. Peace has a hard time getting in if our programmed self blocks the entrance.
One of the first times I experienced this unlimited beingness was at the end of a retreat. I felt myself connect with my chair, the floor and then the whole city. I continued to connect until “I” was the Universe and everything that existed. After I opened my eyes, people were lining up to say goodbye to me as it had been announced my car was leaving for the airport.
As I took the first person in line into my arms, I fell into her eyes. She was the whole universe and her beauty took my breath away. I experienced this with each person I hugged. As I walked out to the car, someone asked, “are you cold?”
My mind couldn’t understand the idea of “you” and the only response was a quiet bubbling up of laughter at the idea of a “you,” as there was no one to be found. As we drove along, it seemed that every blade of grass and every part of nature was “myself” waving back at me in an ecstatic “hi there!”
In this open-hearted, vulnerability of a child, there was nowhere to hide. Being was being touched and blessed by everything. There was no “I” there to own that experience. There was just the experience of everyone and everything as one ecstatic self. When you are awake, you know that you are THAT in which everything arises in (consciousness). You also know that your nature is complete and does not truly need anything from the movie (the world) to know the fullest love and happiness.
Truly living involves continuous dying and letting go. Living as this deeper being, one has a delightful meeting of reality in each new moment. Every moment is fresh even when one does the same outer routine.
Pointers to Peace
1) Follow the little bit in you that you know is true. It might only be that you know love is important to you. You might also realize that you have great resistance to letting love take over your life. Be completely honest with yourself. Outside of your beliefs and what others have told you about life, what do you actually know without a doubt is true? Be open to what arises in you in response to this question.
Andrew Cohen from his book, Enlightenment is a Secret, writes, "There is a place in all of us that has remained innocent, uncorrupted, and untouched by the world. It is a very sensitive place where we feel love - where tenderness and compassion arise, free from self-interest. This place is the hole we have to disappear in forever."
Let go of anything that isn't true. It is the nature of the mind to constantly see what is wrong or lacking, and worry about the future. If you don’t buy the car, you’ll feel bad for missing out on a good deal. If you do buy the car, you’ll beat yourself up for spending money. If you don’t marry your beloved, you’ll feel your chance for love has passed you by. If you do marry your beloved, you’ll fear your freedom is gone and life will pass you by. Do you see how the ego keeps itself alive by creating constant dissatisfaction, lack, or something wrong with the present moment?
We are happiest when we are saying “yes” to what life brings us. It is possible to realize profound happiness that isn’t dependent on trying to control people and circumstances. And we can only “try” to control. One day you notice that you only appeared to be steering the car. In reality, the steering wheel was never connected to the wheels, and “life is what happened to you while you were making other plans.”
When we are afraid or uncomfortable, we tend to jump into thinking or forcing ourselves to make a decision. This shuts us off from a large part of our being and its natural wisdom. If you wait and hold emotions without identifying with their story of reality, there will be a natural realization of what is truly right for you. Your actions will come from a much clearer and higher place than from thinking it out.
As Einstein said, “we can’t solve a problem from the same level it was created on.” Usually, we try to force reality into one end of the polarity we are stuck in. Usually the truth will include both opposites and also transcend them, resulting in a different choice than the mind even knew existed.
If fear or contraction is surfacing, don’t jump into your head or use eating, TV or other means to distract yourself from feeling. And if you do distract, just let yourself do so, without judgment. Deep acceptance of "what is" can shift things from being stuck.
If you can, just be present with the sensation of the “energy-feeling” in your body. Just be with the sensation directly instead of listening to thought’s interpretation. Ask the emotion to reveal its true nature or any messages it has for you or you can ask it if it needs anything from you. There is innate wisdom and power in our feelings and body, which we can’t hear, if we “think” our feelings away.
These feelings are waiting to be TRULY met by you. They long to come home and they are asking you, inner Buddha, to liberate them. Just hold them like you would a frightened child and let them find sanctuary in you. As Pamela Wilson, a teacher says: “I waited for my mind and emotions to tell me who I was, and then I realized as consciousness, that I need to inform them of who they are.”
While painful, despair and depression can lead to the ego giving up on trying to get life to go a certain way. You are just a step away from free-falling out of ego’s control and into Grace’s arms.
2) When you have a persistent attachment to a desire for something like food, love, or approval, just feel it. Let the yearning be there. Don’t try to fix or repress it. Just feel its energy or sensation directly instead of following what your thoughts think about the desire.
Feelings tend to take a fairly predictable course. If one sits with anger, and asks what is underneath, often they discover fear. Under fear is sadness, then despair. Despair is actually a wonderful thing if you can be with it and meet it. Because it is the gateway to opening and tenderness, which leads to love and realization of our true nature.
So to start, meet and feel the actual energy or physical sensation and hold it within the YOU that is larger than the emotion. Stay focused on being present in the now and let the desire or feeling be there and take up all the space it needs within you. It won’t hurt for long if you truly meet it. Our emotions scream at us because we are not listening.
Do not go into your thoughts about the emotion, but stay in the body and the energy sensation of the emotion. Hold the energy as a parent would hold their child. Then ask the emotion to show you its true nature.
Let’s say you were craving over-eating and in meeting that craving, the realization came that there was a desire for love. Then when you ask that desire for love, “would you reveal your true nature?,” you might feel loneliness and then despair. Only spend a few minutes with each emotion and then ask “what is underneath this emotion?”
If you just meet each emotion without thinking about it or judging yourself for having it, receiving whatever it reveals to you, eventually you move into tenderness and an acceptance of what is happening inside. Then what arises, is the experience of love or freedom that isn’t dependent on any outer situation or person.
Now, rather than living in ideas about your true nature, you have a direct knowing (gnosis) of your being. You realize that you don’t need a lover to feel loved or secure because you ARE love! And when you do get a lover, there will be less need to manipulate them to “give you” the feeling of being loved, because you will know better. You will live in a deeper freedom. You will realize the peace that exists underneath the mind’s thoughts, cravings, projections, and the exhausting attempts to control life.
Do NOT take your mind personally! It isn’t just your mind. It is the collective mind. If you want to see the collective mind, look at TV. See the commercials that show a life is ruined because someone didn’t use the right deodorant. See that it believes, “Every Kiss begins with Kay,” and that love has to be bought with jewelry.
Satisfying desire is fine. But suffering is created when we believe we must have what we desire if we are to be happy or whole. Do not believe that something outside of yourself can give you anything that you are not already. You do not need anyone or anything to be whole or happy. People have found liberation in prison!
Sometimes, people experience it when they lose their home and all their possessions. In that moment of shock, they live in the present moment because they have nothing left to cling to or be afraid of losing. They come to realize that who they really are isn't dependent on what they own.
3) If you find yourself thinking about the past or rehearsing the future (beyond the need to plan actual events), bring your consciousness back to being right here, right now. If you think a thought more than once, it’s probably a waste of time. Notice how often you entertain the same thought over and over. Just notice when it isn’t serving you and put attention on your heart or better yet, yourself as energy or presence, which is the “true you” that your physical body lives within.
That fullness and presence of being isn’t out in some future event, it can only be realized by meeting this moment now. Go deeper than thoughts, grasping and trying to control life.
4) Don't do things to make other people comfortable or O.K. if it is in disharmony with being in realization of your true being. You have to be willing to "lose the whole world to gain me," (God awareness). Be still and realize your I AM which is God.
Andrew Cohen writes, "Grace cannot function uninhibitedly unless in your heart of hearts, realization is all that you want. That longing will surely lead you home, but not necessarily in the way that you have in mind. Most people accumulate too many ideas about what is going to happen. They are following only their mind, lost in imagination. Force yourself to be obedient to that longing. If you cannot, then you will surely start looking in other places, because you will want to hang onto some security in this very miserable world. Go to the absolute limit. If you want it all to change, you simply have to realize it is only has to do with you. You are the solution."
5) Be open to the Divine or higher flow, which can be different from ego's concerns and plans. One day, I got a clear impulse to leave home right away and return some items I had on the counter for a refund to the store. I protested because I didn’t need anything from the store. Still I followed the impulse.
While in the checkout line, the women's energy behind me pulled at me. I felt a desire to put my hands on her heart, but let the impulse go because my ego feared scaring people. The impulse returned several times, urging me to go ahead. So, I asked her how she was doing and she said she was very sick. I told her I had felt an urge to give her some healing energy. She hesitated and told me she was very sick and would be willing to try anything.
Afterwards, she said she felt at peace and she was surprised how much better she felt. It was that force which created the universe that restored her to her rightful peace. We were “one self” ministering to itself.
We have all experienced that kind of magic in our everyday lives when we let ourselves be guided by something larger than ego’s self-concern. When we relinquish control, every day can be full of delightful synchronicities of joyful communion. If we are open to possibilities, from falling into a flower or a conversation with a "stranger," life can be an amazing adventure like a young child experiences it.
6) Expect all of your self-images of being a nice, caring person to be blown apart. Often our “loving” comes from our desire to get something for ourselves, versus an authentic impulse from our true nature.
Many people help others so they can feel like they are a good person. Some people help because they “should” and their giving reeks of superiority. In the busyness to fix someone, we miss an opportunity to receive their gifts and experience their perfection just as they are. Many of us have judgments that others would be better off if they lived life as we think is best. One of the largest reasons people help others, is that it distracts them from their own inner pain.
In relationships, inappropriate sacrificing of our needs for others often happens not because we are “so nice,” but because we are afraid of people’s anger or of losing them from our life.
We can get credit for being polite or caring, when really we are trying to control other people’s reactions, instead of allowing people and life to be what they are while we quietly live the truth of who we are.
7) Stay open and soft inside. This doesn't mean that you hang out with everyone or are a doormat, it just means you realize that others are on a journey to self-realization as you are. Each of us makes mistakes in life. You never know when another person is going to leapfrog ahead of you into a greater reflection of truth. People are often not what they appear. Years ago, I found myself feeling sorry for someone in a wheelchair only to find out they were happier than I was!
I also had a lot of judgments about a politician who I thought was ruining American. But what if his actions were awakening us out of sleeping complacency and our abdication of being responsible for our world? What if he was a gift in disguise? Things are often not what they appear. Stay open, don’t allow perceptions to crystallize and encase you from seeing a higher truth.
8) "Being" not "doing" is the way home. Don't be fooled into thinking that you have no time to devote to what is really important. Even sitting in presence for five minutes, rather than being lost in thought is powerfully transforming. Devote time to being in contact with the true eternal beingness, which you truly are, beneath thoughts, urgencies, desires and duties. Inquire within, “who am I?” Then let Being answer. Ask yourself, “If I had total financial and emotional support to be my true self, what would really be important to me?” Then see how you can find ways to start living that way right now.
Neale Walsch, from Conversations With God, Book 3, quotes God as saying to him, "You cannot ‘do’ your way to ‘being.’ Whether you are trying to be happy, be wise, be love or be God - you cannot ‘get there’ by doing. When you come from happiness, you do things because you are happy - as opposed to the old paradigm in which you did things that you hoped would make you happy. Everything changes when you come from "being.” The way to ‘get there’ is to ‘be there’.
9) Usually, a necessary part of awakening is doing what seems inappropriate or inconsiderate. This causes one to break free ego’s hold. The ego doesn't seek union with God and will fight the true you every step of the way, because it knows union will be the death of it running the show. It will use your concerns about what others think to save itself. Sometimes connecting with truth is more important than other people approving of us. This doesn’t mean we are rude or callous toward others, it just means we stop acting like somebody else instead of who we really are.
10) Know that love and multitudes of assistance are all around you in every moment. A flower, book, person, or song can awaken you. The universe is constantly giving us messages and support. Only we ourselves, block clear guidance on how to live in a happy flow. The more you ask or pray for help to live in truth, the more support you will receive to live in your true nature. This infinite being loves us so much, that it will not intrude upon our process or force itself on us. You have to continually open to truth, and as you do, your world will transform to reflect it. Higher intelligence told me, that as it sustains us through sunshine, air and food, it is asking us to sustain its love, beauty and truth in all our human affairs and creations.
Be compassionate and understanding with yourself when you realize you are acting out of false programs or fearful limitations. Remember we have all had decades of conditioning to present a false front and to believe there isn’t enough love, money, or freedom for everyone. We are waking up from that lie and each of us is doing the best we can.
Start giving over all that you can to your true being and don't worry about the aspects that you can't let go of yet. Maybe this means you will spend 30 minutes a day, letting your real self guide your life. Maybe you will be more honest with your friends about how you really want to spend your time with them.
I spent most of my life looking for the secret to happiness and this is what I found. The secret of happiness, is to follow that place in you that is already at peace. No matter what is going on in your life, you can find that peace, right now, by turning inside and meeting your true self. Go deeper than emotions and thoughts and meet that inside of you that is the same as a baby, just pure BEING. Put your focus there (or on your heart which may help get you in touch), instead of on the ruminations and fearful thoughts of the mind.
It is imperative that we support each other to live in the love and truth of Being. The template for right living is inside each one of us. We can’t be completely happy until living in truth, caring for each other, the earth and all her creatures is our highest priority.
~ There is another way to live. It is living from the truth, love and joy of our true nature
while being connected with life in an ecstatic and incredible communion. ~