Tag Archives: Freedom

Happiness and the Ever Allusive Boyfriend

Once again, I’m not strictly speaking of finding a boyfriend, but happiness, the ever allusive happiness that we all seek.

Last night at a coffee shop I began reading a book called The Way to Love:  The Last Meditations of Anthony de Mello.  Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and spiritual guide who, in his many books and conferences, brought together Eastern and Western spirituality.  He himself was raised in India so was familiar with Eastern concepts.  If you have not read anything by him or about him I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT!  It’s amazing how very much in line he is with the thinking of Tolle, Dyer, Jung, Frankl and many others who speak of being free of ego attachments and realizing the grace of living happiness in this moment no matter what is happening around us.  These people, I believe, like the Christ, have keys that can make a tremendous difference in living a happy, more peaceful life.  The Way to Love is a very small volume, something you could carry in your pocket, but is packed with lots of insight and practical wisdom that can change the way you go about life!  It’s published by Image Books, Doubleday.

Last night, on the heals of yesterday’s meditation, I read De Mello’s take on ever allusive happiness.  He says we are programmed from birth to believe that we cannot be happy without things, that happiness lay somewhere in the future when I get this person, thing or place.  Or we are programmed to believe that if we just change the situation and the people around us, then we’ll be happy, or when all our desires are fulfilled we’ll be happy.  All of these are FALSE.  It is only when we stop clinging to these things that we begin to experience what peace and happiness is.  It is only when we let go of these things and simply live this moment and accept what is here and now that we can begin to live in a greater state of peace and happiness.  For then we won’t waste a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get this or that or to change this or that circumstance in our lives (See pp.5-12 The Way to Love) It’s difficult for me to put this in words, but I know what it feels like when I stop looking to the future for happiness, or some person, place of thing.  I know what it is to experience peace and happiness when I accept interruptions to my day, or when my day hasn’t gone as I had planned, or when something seemingly bad happens.  I know what it feels like when I simply accept that and stop resisting it.

I want to continue exploring this.  I find myself being lead to read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles his experiences when he was in a concentration camp in World War II and how he found that even in such horrible and unspeakably inhumane circumstances, one could still be happy.  Imagine the freedom!

Awareness – First Step to Healing – Detachment III

A couple of days ago I had two moments of awareness that connected my past with how and why I was reacting to events in the present.  I was having a difficult time understanding why, at times, I suddenly feel very lethargic and lacking in self esteem.  I also was grappling with why I react to and withdraw from drama with such vehemence.  I became very aware that these two reactions are directly connected to messages that I received as a child from my father and mother.  These points of awareness were all I needed to begin moving beyond or above the way I was reacting to a greater place of peace and joy.

Oftentimes we walk through life asleep, unaware of how our past if affecting our present.  Many people walk their entire lives blindly replaying messages from their past in their present circumstances.  It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day.”  We live the same reality over and over and over and over – until one day we wake up and we get the message.  Only then can we move on in life!  Watch the movie sometime and be aware of this message of waking up.

Eckhart Tolle describes what he calls the “emotional pain body.”  He describes it as if it had an existence unto its own.  It is that entity which carries the memory of past pain and hurt.  In order to survive -as all entities are want to do – it needs to feed on more pain and so it is activated by things that people say or do that suddenly tap those memories.  Most of us are unaware of this and so we react and create more pain, reliving the messages from our past and feeding the “pain body” within us.  The key to freedom is becoming aware of the “emotional pain body,” aware of why we are reacting so.  Once we are able to step outside of our reaction and simply observe the pain body, the connection is broken and we are able to detach (See Eckhart Tolle,  The Power of Now:  A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment.  Namaste Publishing; New World Library, copyright 1999, pp. 36-39).

Perhaps the next time we find ourselves welling up with some emotional response which takes us from a place of peace within, we need to ask why we are reacting.  This point of awareness will lead to a greater place of freedom where we can then rise above the emotional response, detach from feeding the “pain body” and get on with living!

Like A Duck – Detachment

When I grow up I wanna be like a duck!  I want things to slide off of me like water off a duck’s feathers.  The pause that I spoke of yesterday can be like the feathers of a duck, that shield me from allowing people’s words or actions to affect my day.  Do you know anyone who is like this?  Such people are able to simply role with the punches, not allow themselves to get ruffled and are able to separate themselves from the affects of other people’s behavior.  They help where they can, but they do not get all emotionally caught up in people’s stuff.  They walk through life with a sense of detachment that allows them to be loving and helpful, while not being dragged down by someone’s behavior.  I am one who sometimes has difficulty detaching emotionally.  At other times, when I practice pausing, breathing and looking at this upsetting event in light of eternity – I am able to detach and not be ruled by emotion.  The good news is, we can all learn to detach.

The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” recommends that we pause when we are agitated.  This gives some psychic distance between the stimulus and the response.  Chances are, when we pause, we can then respond in an appropriate way.  In that pause, we have the opportunity to acknowledge what it is we’re feeling, but also realize that we’re bigger than that and that we don’t have to be ruled by that emotion.

It is indeed very difficult to not to react sometmes.  But the reaction often leads to a further emotional escalation.  We can’t do anything about how we have reacted in the past and some of the damage this has caused.  But fear not, we CAN do something about today by pausing and slowing changing reactive behavior.

You Want To Be Free?

Matthew 10: 16-23

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.”

When we choose to live in freedom, forces will inevitably conspire to crush this movement.  We see this throughout history when a people begins to rise up in freedom and that freedom is opposed by the powers that be.  We see this very same drama played out today when people who live under repressive regimes begin to rise up.  Sometimes they are quickly put in their place.

When we choose to live free of an addiction, forces will conspire to crush this movement of freedom within.  It’s like that other person inside us, the addict, begins to rear its head.

When we choose to step out in speaking freely the truth within us there will be those who oppose that truth. There will be those who make us feel we are wrong and they will threaten and frighten and sow seeds of doubt.  We will feel like David up against the giant Goliath.

Sometimes though, the wolves are within our own mind.  We dream a dream, we have a vision, . . . and then negative voices within begin to tear it apart, saying it’s unrealistic, unattainable, impossible!

Truth and beauty and goodness and love and dreams and freedom will sometimes be opposed, whether that opposition comes from people around us or voices within us.  But truth, beauty, goodness, love, dreams and freedom will prevail!  Against all odds the human spirit rises up.  It is a like a shoot of a tree that pushes it’s way through the charred earth after a blaze of destruction.  Freedom finds its way!  What one of us, having drunk in messages since we were children that we were sick, flawed, sinful disordered or an abomination – what one of us would ever have dreamed that we would break free of all that and emerge half way sane, let alone thriving and a light of love and compassion in the world!  We are a testament to the resilience and fortitude of the human spirit!

And regarding those voices of opposition?  We are told:  “Do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it.  When the hour comes, you will be given what to say.”  There’s going to be opposition, but don’t worry about it.  Just do what you need to do to keep walking in freedom!

Is there something within you that cries out to be free?  Let us keep rising up and attempting to walk in freedom, despite the opposition around us or within our own minds.  And as we attempt to walk in freedom, perhaps we could remember all those around the world who cry out to be free and walk with them in solidarity.

Lifting Up Gay Spirits

Matthew 11: 25-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”

I will never forget the absolute relief that I felt the day I realized in my heart and in my bone marrow that I was created and loved by God as I was! That moment, sitting in a small chapel in St. Louis, praying Psalm 139 in the darkness, will be forever etched on my memory. “It was you who knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . I thank you for the wonder of my being.”

I didn’t even realize how heavy the burden was. I didn’t realize the weight of fear that I carried on my back, having taken in messages that I was sick, sinful, an abomination and the like since childhood. What a horrible thing to do to a child! And that is what we all are, children. My burden was indeed heavy. And it saddens me that the same messages are still out there and that there continues to be many gay people walking around burdened, fearful and in terror of going to hell!

If you are one such person, know that you are not alone and that you are loved by God as you are. Look around. There are many people like you that are gay, happy and faith filled people. You CAN be gay AND have God in your life! After all, you are in God’s image. You are God’s Word spoken in time, as you are, with a mission. You are “fearfully, wonderfully made!”(Psalm 139)

I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful spiritual director when I was coming out, who walked me through a process that lead me to that day in the chapel in St. Louis. Many don’t have that good fortune. And if there’s any passion that I have in this life, it is to be a help in the same way to gay people that struggle today. If you are one such person I hope that you find my blog, as well as other resources that are available, a help in lifting the burden of fear from your shoulders and gift that gives you a new lease on life.

Whoever you are, gay or straight, we all carry heavy burdens in life at times. A Power Greater Than Ourselves CAN lift those burdens. And that Power works in many different ways. The Power works through the internet crossing boundaries of language and country to bring people together. That Power works through the silence, whispering a word of hope to our hearts. And that Power works through flesh and blood, through the comfort of a human being that can help lift our burdens and free us from our fear.

I pray that all those who visit this site – whoever you are and whatever your state in life – find here a word that lifts your hearts and helps you to know . . . you are not alone.

A Declaration of Independence

Today in the United States it is Independence Day.

I am struck by the courage it took, first for the early settlers to get in a ship and sail across this vast ocean, leaving the security of their homeland to go to this new, strange wilderness!  With no guarantees they left their homeland, compelled only by the lack of freedom in their own homeland and a vision a freer life.  I am struck by the courage it took for the founding members of this country to separate from their country of origin, to separate from all that security and to create something new, having NO idea if it would fly or not.  They had no guarantees.  When you look at it, the whole foundation of this country was very precarious; but, moved by the desire for freedom, they courageously took action.  They walked into the future carrying only a vision, a dream of what could be, but they had no guarantees.  My only grief about this process is in how the Native Americans and Africans were treated.  Ironic and sad how the very same people that were seeking freedom, enslaved others.  We must be careful that the oppressed, when gaining freedom, don’t become the oppressors.

What strikes me today though, is the courage it takes to declare independence.  No guarantees.   No security.  Only a deep desire for freedom and a vision of what could be, after a long time of feeling abused, silenced and held in place.  Any of us that strike out in independence must have great courage.  I pray for such courage!  Some of us experience this in our jobs, our relationships, our marriages and our addictive processes.  We sometimes find ourselves abused, silenced and held in place, or caught in negative patterns of behavior or thinking.  After a while we get to the point where we can no longer take it and just the desire for freedom gives us courage to step outside of this familiar, secure place into unfamiliar territory, but a “land” that holds the promise of freedom.  Any of us who have stopped smoking, drinking, gambling or addictively eating, who have left abusive, constraining relationships, who have moved on from unwelcoming churches or unjust places in our society, . . . Any who have done such things know full well how frightening a declaration of independence can be and what courage it takes.  Ah, but the wondrous freedom that we begin to experience!!

Are there areas in our lives that call out for freedom?  I feel myself at a crossroads.  And, to be honest, I don’t know what to do.  I am frightened.  Damn frightened!  How much longer can I stay in the unjust system in which I find myself?  How much longer can I support and be supported by something that I so do not believe in?

Years ago I used to drink a lot as a way of negatively coping with a situation in my life.  I didn’t drink to the point of passing out or anything like that, but I drank everyday and, at the time, I could not imagine what life would be like without having a few drinks everyday to take off the edge.  I remember thinking the same thing when I would think about quitting smoking.  But what began to shift those patterns of behavior was this:  when I stopped being afraid of living without it and began to get excited about the vision of being free I finally made steps in the direction of freedom!

Are there areas in our lives that call out for freedom?  Can we replace the fear with excitement about what life would be like to be free?  Perhaps then we will have the courage to declare our own independence day!

The Tyranny of Freedom and the Freedom of Discipline

I wish I could take credit for the title of today’ post, but I can’t.  This was the title of a talk given by the Dean of Students when I was a Freshman in College.  Here we were, a bunch of Freshman in College bursting at the seems to be free of our parents, free of the constraints of High School and free to party hardy, just waiting to dive into every experience that our new found freedom could possibly give us!  And then he gives us a talk about the tyranny of freedom and the freedom of discipline.  Even if I forgot the truth of what he spoke over various times in my life, I never forgot the title – and it’s truth comes back to me again and again.

Discipline is not a dirty word.  And complete freedom, with no boundaries, can lead to tyranny and lots of unfocused, dispersed energy running all over the place!  Look at the children of parents who give them free reign.  Look at society and the world when the common good is displaced for the comfort and convenience of a few.  Look within.

Discipline is that which leads us to freedom.  Look at any musician, athlete, artist, writer, parent, therapist or business person.  Look at anyone who is good at what they do and chances are, behind all of that we will see hours and hours, days, weeks and years of practice honing their craft which lead them to the freedom of expression they now enjoy and from which others benefit.  If I am not disciplined in body, mind and spirit, my energy is dispersed and my living unfocused.  When I am disciplined in body, mind and spirit – this investment of time leads to a stream of physical and spiritual energy that is focused and a love that is outreaching.

Of course discipline can become a tyranny if it is not balanced with the freedom of relaxation and play.  All work, no play makes us dull people indeed!  But if we’re all play and little work, we will also find our energies dissipated and our body/spirits lifeless.  Get the spiritual and physical endorphins going with a little discipline today!