PASSPORT TO FREEDOM: WHAT IS FREEDOM?
By Robert Egby
One of the people who reviewed my book “Cracking the Glass Darkly” described it as a “passport to freedom” which prompted a query: What is freedom?
Well, first of all it has absolutely nothing to do with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights which guarantees freedoms of religion, speech, writing, publishing, peaceful assembly, etc.
The problem is much closer to home. Most people have minds that are virtual prisons, full of locks, bars and limitations. Most people do not even recognize them.
The baby, the youth, the growing adult absorb and remember everything that happens in their environment. A young child quickly learns the power of “No!” and from that follows anger, resistance, rebellion, hurt, worry, anguish and fear. As the years pass, the growing child copies criticism, judging, bitterness, tension, possession, prejudice, obsession and these become the power weapons of the human ego. Some mind researchers call them the faces of the negative ego – and some calculate the average human being has thousands of these negative faces.
The ego gains its power from memories, memories embedded deep and consciously forgotten in the subconscious mind. “If you’re not a good child, we won’t love you,” or “Don’t let kids push you around. Strike back!” or “Unless you achieve good marks you’ll never get anywhere,” or “No one will ever love you.”
The ego imprisons us with memories from the past; it keeps us in ruts. Relationships, careers, education, creative endeavors and health can suffer. Anger and possession are the key destroyers of relationships.
It’s known as suffering. Millions of people the world over are suffering from memories, conflicts, influences and do not even realize it. They live from one emotional disaster to another. In desperation they seek therapy and start to eradicate negative habits, prejudices and learn anger management, but if the source – the negative ego – still remains and is in charge, new faces will rise to take their place.
Buddha’s Four Noble Truths are based on universal suffering. Jesus, the Galilean teacher promised that if you followed his teachings you would be “saved” from suffering, and Paul of Tarsus described humankind’s suffering as “looking through a glass darkly.” Other mystical teachers throughout the ages, including Socrates and Plato pointed to the same problem afflicting humankind, but is anything done? Is anything done on a grand scale to eliminate the suffering and the prisons of human beings?
Strangely, the negative ego is an illusion but each person believes it is his or her true identity. “Anger is in my DNA” or “I can’t help being jealous, it’s in my blood,” or “Nobody ever loved me, why should I love you.”
The good news is there is a way out. There is a freedom from suffering. Like anything worth while it does take effort and it does require some patience. But each step normally produces results.
The False Self is like a criminal, it abhors the light, and here we are talking about the light of awareness. The technique is called Impartial Self Observation. It’s like a spotlight that shines on each face of the negative ego, and it is done without judging, comment or opinion. When the light of impartial observation shines on anger, bitterness, jealousy, revenge etc., these faces start to diminish, they start to recede, and eventually will never return.
Deep within you is a True Self, a self that is exactly the opposite of the False Self. It is that loving, sincere entity, the spirit within that has been trying to manifest in your life for years, but it’s been help captive behind the “glass darkly.” There is absolutely no reason – no reason at all – why a human being should not love himself or herself. The truth is that if you do not, it’s because someone, somewhere set up the parameters, the limitations that blocked your way to loving yourself.
You still don’t believe there is a True Self? Next time you cannot sleep because of so-called mind chatter, try this simple exercise. Decide you are going to watch and observe these thoughts, and decide you are going to watch them impartially, without judgment, opinion or comment. In other words will not associate yourself with the passing thoughts.
As each thought comes up, imagine you can place a number on it like “number one, “number two” etc. You’ll notice that when you get to six and seven, the thoughts will start to slow down, and by the time you get to eleven and twelve, you will be waiting for the next thought to come through…and somewhere in the waiting you’ll slip off into a deep, healthy sleep.
Next morning, ponder on what you have learned. You will discover an important truth: “If I can watch myself thinking and reacting, who or what is the Watcher, the Observer?” That power is the True Self and it is showing you the path to freedom from suffering. Go forth.
There are many descriptions on the work of Impartial Self Observation and breaking free from suffering and the False Self. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky taught it almost a century ago, and more recently Jean Klein and Vernon Howard. There is a complete and easy to follow program in my book “Cracking the Glass Darkly,” and that will get you started on your road to freedom.
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