Steve Farrell is a member of the Continuing Students Program.
He has about as much zeal for living as Awakeness as anyone you’re ever going to meet.
That zeal induces humility, and Steve teaches me about that slippery attribute on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, I’m a lousy student.
But I sure love meeting with him every month, as he’s always a breath of that clean, fresh, Maine air.
Many thanks to both Steve and Kathleen.♥
For many of us, religious exposure starts at a young age. Christians are taught they are born in sin and must confess their sins to be saved. Similarly, Hindus are taught that if they are bad in this lifetime, they might be reincarnated as a pig, goat, or even a cockroach in the next. Beliefs like these start us on a lifelong journey of not feeling good enough and trying to better ourselves.
Along with religion, our families and culture also indoctrinate us into thinking we need to be more than we are. You know the drill. We’re told we need to go to college to make something of ourselves. Then we’re told we need to get a master’s degree and, in some cases, a Ph.D. Even earning a doctorate isn’t enough by itself. To prove their worth, those with a Ph.D. need to write articles and books. Whether we’re just a high school graduate or a doctor with multiple degrees, no matter how much money we earn or accolades we receive, it’s never enough.
Psychologists and other therapists add to this pressure, imploring us to keep working on ourselves. They encourage us to improve our relationship with our parents, our wives, our children, our friends and our coworkers. We are told to be a better person, a more organized person, a more productive person, a happier person.
It never ends.
Of course, some of us don’t listen to all these people. Rather than falling into the worldly materialism trap, we fall into the spiritual materialism trap. Instead of yearning for more money and material things to complete us, we seek deeper meditations, more profound realizations and cosmic spiritual experiences. We act humble and holy, bowing and chanting and performing rituals. Due to our conditioning, however, we still feel we’re not enough. We’ve accepted the precepts that enslave us, merely substituting spiritual goals for worldly ones.
Here’s a question to contemplate: What do you REALLY want? What is your heart’s desire? Do you want to be enslaved or free?
This is where all the conditioning of family, religion and culture goes out the window. To be free we must STOP—stop seeking, stop striving, stop buying into the stories we’ve been told about ourselves. In the material world, knowledge equals respect. In awakening, freedom means being comfortable not knowing; it means having the heart of a child.
Who doesn’t love being in the company of an infant, to be in the presence of such purity, such innocence, such natural awe? An infant is a mirror to our true selves—empty, aware, awake and peaceful. In the presence of a child, do we ever feel the need to improve ourselves? No. Awakening is not about moving forward; it’s about going back to who we are.
Does freedom matter? Absolutely. To be free is to be comfortable with yourself in any situation, comfortable with emptiness. Life is what it is. No manipulations, judgments or criticisms are necessary. If an inspiration arises to improve something—well, that’s all part of the dance. Everything is included.
Being comfortable with emptiness is freedom. Being comfortable with not knowing is freedom. There is no school, family, culture or religion that supports this method. The world teaches us how to be a slave. Awakening reveals our innate emancipation.
Now is the time to step off the wheel of good and bad, light and dark, birth and death. Now is the time to be aware.