By reciting the blessed name of Avalokiteshvara three times, we will be free from fear. This practice works in all manner of situations, please use it as often as you like. OM MANE PADME HUM
In America, we value freedom. It is our highest ideal, and the founding principle of our Constitution, the basis of law for our country. Soldiers fight and die for freedom with their bodies, while civilians and lawmakers fight for freedom with their words. Yet, with all of this emphasis and desire for freedom, do we actually know what it really is?
What we usually consider ‘freedom’ is not true freedom. It is a limited type of freedom, a relative freedom. It is limited because if you try and push your freedoms as far as they will go, you will soon find that there will be a limit to what you can do and say. Some of these limits are formalized and written, while others are more social and unspoken.
Our freedom is relative because it only exists depending on certain circumstances and in certain situations. For example, the freedom that someone may have at one point in time can easily be taken away at another time. Wartime is a great example of this. During times of war, many limitations are put on an individuals’ freedom. Also, throughout American history the rights of certain groups and sometimes of everyone have been limited or taken away altogether. The Alien and Sedition acts, the internment of Japanese Americans, African-American slavery etc. Clearly, the relative freedoms we enjoy are not true freedom.
So what then, is true freedom them? True freedom is not conditional, not relative, and is not limited. It does not depend upon a particular form of government or living in a certain country. It cannot be given by anyone, and therefore cannot be taken away by anyone. True freedom is the freedom of liberation. Liberation from our limited body, and from our conditioned mind which is contaminated with ignorance and delusions.
True freedom is an experience beyond this physical world. It is an experience of the absence of limitations. It is like pure spaciousness; an inner experience of peace. Since it does not depend on controlling external things, it can never be taken away. It does not need to be fought for, because no amount of fighting or killing will ever bring it about. All that is needed is the wish to be truly free, and the wisdom to recognize what true freedom really is. Once you have this wisdom, you will no longer seek relative freedom, and true freedom will be yours.
There are many heroes and heroines in our culture. One in particular that comes in mind is Superman. Superman is a true hero. He gives up his own well being, safety, and self concern for the sake of others. He has compassion, even for the ‘enemy’ that he must fight. Yet at the same time his is still human-he has doubts at times and sometimes is confused as he tries to find his way on his path. But he never gives up, and eventually he is able to find his way and discover who he is and why he is here. And like a true hero or heroine, one of Superman’s greatest gifts is to inspire others to become like him. Other heroes and heroines are the same-Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, etc.
All of us, from all walks of life, can become true heroes. Some may be firefighters, police officers, soldiers, or doctors. Others may be teachers, parents, friends, spouses, gardeners, healers, bank tellers, or a cashier at the convenience store. But no matter what we do externally, we can all let go of our obsessive self concern and instead dedicate our lives to the service of others. Whenever we let go of ourself and are there for someone else, releasing our self concern for the benefit of others, then at that time we are a hero or heroine.
We will not always be perfect. At some moments we will be a hero, and at others we may be very deluded. We will often times make mistakes. We may have certain negative parts of ourselves that seem to keep holding us back. But we definitely can overcome our inner demons, no matter how big they are and no matter how long it may take. No matter what mistakes we have made in the past, it is still not too late to be a hero in the present. We all have the potential to be someone who is completely free of self concern, entirely unfettered by confusion and darkness. We can all go on the internal journey of facing and overcoming our inner demons.
When we sincerely embark on this path, then we are taking the hero’s journey.
Imagine what our world would be like if we all chose to go on the hero’s journey, and change our ordinary way of living into the life of a hero or heroine?
“The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done. If powerful men and women could center themselves in it, the whole world would be transformed, by itself, in its natural rhythms. People would be content with their simple every day lives, and harmony, and free of desire. When there is no desire, all things are at peace.”
Tao te Ching verse 37
Translation by Stephen Mitchell
“If you wish to see the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”
Hsin Hsin Ming
Photo CC0 Public Domain
“You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
John 12:35-36 New International Version
Those who disregard all suffering
To destroy the foes of anger and so forth
Are the true conquerors worthy of the name ‘hero’;
Other so called heroes merely slay corpses
Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
Chapter 6, verse 20
Photo©2008 by Julen
CC BY 2.0
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