Thursday, January 26, 2012


Desi Arnaz Jr
Who Also Knows

Do you live in bondage? Are you a slave? To yourself?

I 'lived' a big part of my life in bondage to addictions of various kinds. I have known the loss of freedom---indeed, the horrible self-slavery, self-loathing and suffering---that is always the result of unhealthy, life-destroying attachments, cravings and obsessions. I am free now, and I intend to stay that way. I choose to live differently now---and I am very much alive!

It is said that we are born free. Well, never entirely free. However, part of the ‘price’ we pay for Spirit descending into matter, for the Word becoming flesh, so to speak, is that we invariably find ourselves caught up, indeed trapped, in a time-bound, self-centred prison which is not entirely of our own making but which becomes more and more escape-proof as we choose, hundreds and thousands of times, to identify with our false sense of ‘self.’

Yet, as the great spiritual leader and author Norman Vincent Peale (pictured left) once wrote, ‘There is a spiritual giant within us, which is always struggling to burst its way out of the prison we have made for it.’ How I love those words! The words are themselves bursting with life-changing power. Even if what Peale said were not the case, I think those words of his are nevertheless so powerful that they still could move mountains---perhaps even literally! Yes, the word goes forth from the mouth, and shall not return empty, but shall accomplish its purpose (cf Is 55:11).

Even though we tend to cling to our attachments, cravings and obsessions, deep down we know we are not free. Deep down inside ourselves, we know we were not meant to live that way. We know---or at least suspect---that things might perhaps be different---if only … . Well, listen to these oft-cited words from author and ‘disciple’ P D Ouspensky (In Search of the Miraculous) as he quotes his ‘master’, the sometimes questionable ‘guru’ George Gurdjieff (pictured below right):

Freedom, liberation, this must be the aim of man. To become free, to be liberated from slavery: this is what a man ought to strive for when he becomes even a little conscious of his position. There is nothing else for him, and nothing else is possible so long as he remains a slave both inwardly and outwardly. But he cannot cease to be a slave outwardly while he remains a slave inwardly. Therefore in order to become free, man must gain inner freedom.

The first reason for man's inner slavery is his ignorance, and above all, his ignorance of himself. Without self-knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave, and the plaything of the forces acting upon him.

This is why in all ancient teachings the first demand at the beginning of the way to liberation was: ‘Know thyself.’

Know thyself. That has always been the message of the great teachers, mystics, saints and holy ones. In the words of Dr Peale, 'Self-knowledge leads to a cure. Self-knowledge is the beginning of self-correction. The first step toward being what you can be is to know what you are.' Yes, until we know we are in bondage---and until we acknowledge that fact---there is really no hope for us. However, as soon as we admit to ourselves that we are in bondage, that there is something seriously 'wrong' with us, there is hope for us. Further, when we say to ourselves, ‘I want to be free, more than anything else in the world,’ then our walk to freedom begins, but we must be prepared to go to any length to get it.

Do you really want to be free? Well, then, ask yourself this question, ‘Who has bound me?’ No voice answers back … except perhaps your own … and if you are in touch with the truth of your being---the truth that can and will set you free if you let it---you will come to realize that, in truth, you, the person that you are, have always been free and unlimited. In the words of a song I like:

I Am free, I Am unlimited,
There are no chains that bind me.
I Am free, I Am unlimited, Right now! Right now!

True, you may have attached your ‘self’ to all kinds of things and persons---for it is a fact that the 'self' always wants opportunities for gratification of various kinds---but once you lose the illusion of self your mental states will no longer revert to negativity. Know this: you are not a 'self,' but a person among persons in the All-in-All of Life. (If you have trouble accepting the fact that there is no 'self,' I suspect the reason for that is this---your attachment to 'self' is very strong. If so, get rid of your 'self.' Drop it---now! You don't need it, and it only gets in the way of your true Being.)

Yes, the person that you are is part of Life’s Self-Expression, and the life of you is always free and unlimited. Life, which is forever engaged in a timeless renewal of itself from one moment to the next, is never in bondage or slavery, but we can and so often do make a veritable prison for ourselves … out of our ‘selves’. Never forget that. But we can still assert our innate spiritual freedom---at any time! Indeed, right now! Listen to what the spiritual teacher Vernon Howard, whose writings and tapes on the subject of spiritual psychology have meant so much to me over the years, has to say about how to be free---right now!

Howard wrote, 'To change what we get we must change who we are.' We need to start living from and in that centre of life-consciousness which is the very ground of your being---the very livingness of your life---right now! You see, this ground of your being is nothing less than the individualised, personalised, condensed totality of Being Itself, and this ‘energy-base’ is closer to you than breathing and nearer than hands and feet.  Yes, Being indwells, infuses, animates and expresses all persons and all material creation – indeed, all life! Nothing, absolutely nothing, exists which is outside the orbit and presence of pure Being, and you are at all times immersed, indeed saturated, in that Being---that All-in-All---as It forever lives out Its livingness in and as you, the person that you are. Once you fully awaken to that fact, and start living that fact, you are---free! Yes, really!

Mystics refer to this awakening as a movement from the ‘false self’ to one’s ‘true self’ (or ‘Self’). Actually, there is nothing mystical at all about this awakening. It can happen to anyone and everyone---if they awaken to the truth of their Being, and if they really want change in their lives for the better. In the words of Vernon Howard (pictured left), 'Reflect often on the interesting idea of getting out of your own way. Healing finally comes to the sincere seeker, like a sick man who awakens in the morning to find himself cured.’ But first you must come, in the words of the actor, producer, musician and wellness spokesperson Desi Arnaz Jr, to the ‘realization that nothing out there is going to make you happy,' for there is only freedom when 'you are not dependent on people, places or things' for your happiness.

Those who are free are those who are not in trouble with themselves. They no longer react mechanically, that is, from conditioned thought. They live in awareness. They are not obsessed with the need to be happy. They do not care how others should treat them or behave toward them. They know that the answer to every problem lies within themselves. Further, they know that, for each of us, the only real problem is---ourself, that is, our 'self.' By the world's 'values,' 'standards' and 'ideals,' these people could be said to be out-of-step with the world---even failures. So be it, they have seen through all worldly values, standards and ideals, and they have concluded that it is really not all that worthwhile to be in step with the world. These people would rather be 'in tune with the infinite.' These people have heeded the good advice of Francis of Assisi, who said, 'Don't change the world, change worlds.' Yes, these people are---free!

Do you want to be free? Really? How greatly? Are you prepared to go to any length? Well, know this: you are free, you are unlimited. There are no chains that bind you. So, come alive! Now.

NOTE. For those who are interested in the writings and ideas of Dr Peale, I have compiled and edited a book entitled The Norman Vincent Peale Book of Quotations.

Vernon Howard Audio Clip
Courtesy New Life Foundation, Pine AZ.
All rights reserved.




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