The Latin word for the Roman goddess of liberty and freedom is Liberas. She is in fact the inspiration for the statue of liberty, an effigy of the goddess Isis. I remember the trembling I felt in my body when I first laid eyes on her this summer. I was floating down the Hudson, onboard a small cruise liner aptly named, “Celestial.” It was sunset and we came as close to her as law allows. The power of her presence was overwhelming. She was the embodiment of what I value most, freedom. The protector of liberty, asylum from oppression and tyranny, and a woman!
As a direct descendent of Patrick Henry, “the give me liberty or give me death Henry”, I have all of my life been wed to the highest ideal of liberation. It is in my blood. I have dedicated my life to liberating those who suffer, to illuminating the truth, to removing that which binds. I have found that it is the mind itself that either oppresses or liberates. Even those in the most heinous and dehumanizing situations can remain internally free. How we interpret our reality, our experience, determines the quality of our lives. A worthy example follows.
I have been mired for the past several weeks in the interpretative aspect of my mind. I have been strategizing, analyzing, and in the end drawing erroneous conclusions about the state of my life. I have experienced intellectual mayhem, the result of trying to find a suitable answer to my livelihood dilemma. As if the process of mere “thinking” would be enough to resolve the issue. The more I think the less present I am. The more present I am the more relaxed I feel. In being relaxed I connect effortlessly to a timeless state of consciousness. This expansiveness lends itself to non-linear modes of cognition, to transcendental knowledge that is liberating. This is the realm where I know that I don’t need an answer. What a relief.
I have struggled this last year to exclusively support myself doing what it is that I love, writing and teaching. I have known my whole life that it was my spiritual destiny, the work that I was intended to do! I had such clarity of purpose, such a heartfelt knowing that this was the fulfilling of my dharma. The fact that it failed to be a viable living was devastating. I felt disappointed, and discouraged. Wallowing in an apathetic demise, suffering overshadowing the joy my heart tried in vain to awaken. I felt abandoned. If not this then what? Was it possible, that it wasn’t possible? Self-doubt and anger plagued my heart. Only solitude could soothe the deep pain that I felt. I needed time to crater in the ruin of my attachments. To be in that lonely, “I don’t know what else to do place,” that is painful to the touch.
There is nothing like retreating from the world, from the ravages of the mind, to restore one’s relative sanity. I became contemplative, self-reflective. Was I attached to how my work should look? Had “I” designated it as “spiritual work” to the exclusion of other forms of work I had done in my life? Did it truthfully have greater value, merit or importance? How could I ever determine that? Isn’t it about who I am, not what I do? What determined spiritual work? Did it really matter what I did? I began to see how far I had wandered from my own knowing. In the most compassionate way, I was shown that there is no greater or lesser thing that I can do in this world. It is simply a matter of awareness, of recognizing that whatever I do with love is my work!
Something truly amazing happened through this process… I felt my own small contributions to humanity. They were not epic or grand. They were in fact, simple moments in time. Those moments happened in the world, within the context of people’s lives, not necessarily within a classroom, not on a blank page. I had in my own quiet way brought truth, love, compassion, peace, healing and freedom to those in need. I didn’t create those opportunities they were given to me. They will always be given to me.
In the darkest times in my life I have discovered an inner strength and power, an ability to trust in the forces that were conspiring to make me real. At the height of fear I have felt the birth of courage. When I’ve been certain that I couldn’t endure, something within miraculously restores me to life, puts flesh on my bones, and air in my lungs. “Your not done yet, so rise.” This is how I have become authentic. I have learned how to surrender, to accept what I most ardently resist with faith. I don’t know where I will be led, how I will earn my living, where I will live or much of anything else. What I do know is that I can trust in life. I remember the truth, I hold the keys to my own freedom. Hail Libertas!
Happy New Year,