On Letting Go to Freedom

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American history might leave many of us with the idea that Freedom is something that one has to earn and acquire. On one side, there are those that believe that sinking billions of dollars into national defense is a solution to “holding onto hard-fought” freedoms; on the other side, there are those who rightfully advocate for freedom through the elimination of institutionalized oppression.

And yet, the Founding Fathers’ perspective on Freedom is what made them so revolutionary. Freedom is self-evident. It is a right endowed to us by virtue of walking on this earth.

When we fight for Freedom, it is not to get something we didn’t have, but rather to restore something that has always been ours.

Freedom, therefore, starts with us. Of what do we need to let go … What do we need to surrender in order for us to restore our Freedom?

 

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On Gaining Power Through Surrender

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Surrender is a paradox. When we surrender, we actually achieve real and authentic power. How is it possible that we are more powerful in surrendering?

The Buddha discovered that the mind enslaves us in conditioning that is reinforced through the repetition of habits. Jesus was a revolutionary precisely because he represented a break from the rigid and repetitive ways of thinking that dictated his society. Krishna counsels Arjuna on the battlefield that it is in the present moment that we must master our minds, which keep us trapped in the vicious cycle of samsara, of the past repeating itself in our present and future. Two days ago, our Muslim brethren began Ramadan, which involves fasting, a ritual break from those things that keep us apart from God in each and every moment.

We are slaves to our conditioning. Our habits define us. We don’t even realize the ways in which we are gripped by them: Our friend says something, and we already know what they are going to say. We make the same commute in traffic, and next thing we know, we have somehow guided ourselves back home without even remembering how we got there. Our partner says something with a bit of a tone, and the next thing we know, we’re fighting the same argument we’ve fought a hundred times before.

Surrender offers us freedom from this conditioning. It is a recognition that we are trapped in our conditioned ways of thinking, speaking, and doing, and saying, “I know where this is going to take me, and I don’t want to go there anymore. I choose to give up, trusting that I will be led to a place I’ve never been before.”
It is a surrender to every possibility made available by the unknown. It is in this infinitude of possibilities that we derive power, a power that can only be accessed through surrender.

Surrender = An Act of Wisdom

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There are moments in life where one wakes up, looks around, and asks oneself, “Is this all there is?” … Is this the relationship I want to continue with? Is this the job I saw myself being in? Is this how I want to spend the days of my life? … These are the critical moments of tenderness and humility when we choose between settling and leaping into the unknown, between surrender and resignation.

I was once asked, “What is the difference between surrender and resignation?” Resignation and settling means that we have given up hope. It is the limited self no longer seeing any possibility beyond what we already know.

In contract, surrender is an act of wisdom. It is a profound acceptance of Life. It is saying “I don’t know” and putting all that we are into the hands of something greater than ourselves.

In this way, surrender is not an act of capitulation, but rather one of victory for our Highest Self.

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

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Last week, I began my reflection on the power of the holy rosary by exploring the Joyful Mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at the Sorrowful Mysteries.

On the surface, the Sorrowful Mysteries refer to the last hours of Jesus before his Crucifixion. And although this is true, this set of sacred mysteries is about much more. It teaches us about resilience and the power of faith. In his example, Jesus teaches us the power of profound acceptance, of acknowledging that there are certain things that every human being, including Christ, must experience, namely suffering and death. More importantly, he teaches us what it means to surrender, to realize that, in the face of suffering and death, the only thing over which we have control is how we greet those moments that try our humanity.

WHO are we in the face of suffering and death? How can we BE with the inevitable trials of life?

In a few weeks, I will be sharing my digital mini-course on “Tapping Into the Power of the Holy Rosary.” This digital audio and e-booklet package is intended to introduce you to the basics of the rosary and how you can begin to use it as a object for meditation. Stay tuned!

On What Is Required for Freedom

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In my last meditation session, a truth came bubbling up to the surface: Freedom is about letting go. It’s not the first time that I had considered this idea. In fact, it is one of the central ideas in Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith‘s Spiritual Liberation. This time, though, it was a truth that I got to experience.

Freedom is not about getting something. It’s not getting more money, more social capital, more security. It’s about surrender. It’s about allowing the lies we tell to ourselves about ourselves to fall away. It is about who we essentially are when we strip away all those staunchly-defended aspects of our identity. It is about release, about the answer to “Who am I?” when we’ve run out of answers.

We are not free when we have more breath; rather, we feel free when we are able to exhale deeply into the truth. …

The First Requirement for Change

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Sometimes, the only way to crawl out of the hole is to fall completely into it. It’s only after the pain of having hitting the floor, hugging oneself in the darkness, that one discovers that things need to be different. It’s not because I’m a glutton for punishment or that I only learn the hard way. Rather, it is the case that sometimes, some habits and behavioral patterns are so ingrained that it almost feels like I can’t find my way out, and it takes the rough times to break down the old habits to make space for the new ones. …

As I move through one of those spaces, I am reminded of two different stories. First, there is the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that she was to conceive the baby Jesus. Despite how freaky the moment might have been for her as a Jewish virgin woman, she declared, “[B]e it done to my according to your word.” And in the garden, in the last night before his crucifixion, her son, Jesus, prayed first that the cup might pass before him. Then, he surrendered, declaring, “Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.”

For me, these moments are reminders of what is required for real change to occur. It is one thing to say that we desire change. It is a whole other thing to be completely willing and open to change, no matter the darkness through which must travel.

As Louise L. Hay affirms in You Can Heal Your Life, “I am willing to change.”

Keeping the Dark Night of the Soul in Perspective

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So I continue with my Lenten process of surrender and renewal. This intentional period of self-reflection has brought up so much stuff for me, … stuff I thought I had dealt with, … stuff I thought was forgiven, … stuff that I hadn’t expected. In yesterday’s blog entry, I mentioned that the first step towards Transformation is a profound acceptance of current reality.

Yet, at this stage of the journey –  the beginnings of what the “dark night of the soul” most closely associated with St. John of the Cross – there is a tendency to want to wipe the slate clean. Either, we seek to invalidate the past, beating ourselves up for things long done: “If I had only done this, …” or “I should have done that. …” Or, we think the only way to evolve the Self is to rid ourselves of any and everything that has the appearance of not working in the present moment: We begin to cut out relationships, purge our homes of photographs and old letters, erase contacts from our smartphones and Facebook.

Neither of these approaches is wrong per se, so long as we remember that it is all in the name of creating space. Forgiveness isn’t about rewriting the past or the present; rather, it is about letting go in the present so that there is space for a new future to be birthed.