May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings remember who they are. The kingdom of heaven is within you. The doorway to the kingdom of heaven is the heart of a child. The power of being in the kingdom of heaven, not the power to control or to create the power, to create differently than what we might've created before, because that's what freedom is about. Freedom is the act of creation and the act of creation different than what I might've had before. Those are your words around our Sunday morning class. I was paraphrasing. We said years ago, "If you don't like the scene, get the heck off the stage."
Metaphysically speaking what we could say is "If you don't like the scene, you have the power to create another one." You have the power to create because you created the one you didn't like the first place. That's not something that you'd like to listen to so much, but you know, one of the things that I keep learning all the time, time, and time and time again is as it shows up, guess what, I created it. And if I created it, I can create something different. That is my true power. And that is for free.
There are all sorts of ways of describing the spiritual path, feeling good, letting go of this, letting go of that, following this particular pathway, being joyful, being compassionate, being loving, being forgiving, all of those things are obviously tremendously viable. But if you sit all the way through all of those, there is one common denominator. The spiritual path is all about compassion, loving one another. The spiritual path is all about freedom. If you have freedom, you have everything else. If you don't have freedom, it's going to be very difficult to have any of those other attributes you're looking for. I still fall into this trap, I find a new book or a new workshop or a new song that I have to try out. Maybe it's here. Maybe I continually realize when I'm awake enough or aware enough is it's not about this. It's not about that. It's not even about loving the passion. It's about getting free because once you have gotten yourself free, everything else falls, love falls, compassion. When I am free, I have the choice of loving, of being compassionate, of being joyful, being all of those things that I'm looking for. Freedom is the ability to respond with love for goodness, gentleness, kindness, openness. They're always doing this. It's the realization that I have choices in all of those areas of my life. But there's so many times when I don't even realize it. I'm not free.
I'm locked into a pattern of thought or behavior. That's just sort of automatic for me. One of my favorite book titles is by Sheldon Compass, it's called "Here I Am, Wasn't I." Every time I think about that, I go back in my mind, I went through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Where was I in all of this? Where's my choice in all of this? I started going around on autopilot following exactly the same format that I followed yesterday, the day before, the day before. Where am I in all of this? It's not until I have a wake up call, a moment of awareness that I feel like I realized, am I free today? How free of my day?
Sunday morning, I go to Unity. How free is that? A mystic once said something wonderful. He said, "You have to realize you were in prison before you get out." You have to realize the areas of your life that you're not free in order to make them free. I have to be aware of the things I am giving my power away to, the people, places. How often does that happen during a day without even realizing? How often am I giving my power away to someone that I can't stand? That's a really interesting conundrum. Giving your power away to someone you can't stand. And yet how many times did we wind up doing that? All I gotta do is flip on the news. Where's my power go? I have a choice. I didn't even recognize I have a choice cause I'm on automatic pilot.
Where's the freedom is not what we think it is from the ego's perspective. Freedom isn't doing everything I want to do whenever I want to do with no consequences. We only recognize what that's like. But if we sit with that, just even for a moment there we realize how ridiculous that is. And I'm childish because it's not possible unless I'm the only free person on planet earth. Then I can keep doing whatever I want to doing. And you're going to have to suffer the consequence. But you know, if that's my idea of freedom, you and you have the same idea of freedom. It's not going to be terribly long before my idea of your freedom and your idea of freedom start clashing with one another. And then we're going to have to find that I was wrong. So freedom from the perspective of the soul is very, very different from freedom from the perspective of the ego consciousness.
When I realize the truth is within me and I'm not giving up anything in order to be free, then I really am free. When I first heard the title of this talk, my immediate thought was to go back to that wonderful spiritual master, Kris Kristofferson, one of the most classic one-liners is "Freedom is just another word." I thought that was so horrendous and so negative when I first heard it. And the longer I sat with it, I got this image of Buddha dancing around singing this song to himself, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," because that's exactly what it is. Freedom is being free of all the tension. There's nothing that's tying me down. Nothing is holding me, not even my own thoughts about myself. Not my thoughts about you or your thoughts about me. Freedom is I've got nothing to lose because, because I didn't have anything to begin with. This is my body. This is my church. This is my song. This is my moment. Of course not ridiculous. It's ours. And it's not even just ours. It's a whole, all those spiritual beings. We're yearning for exactly the same thing you're yearning for, even though the outside might look different. How free are you today?
How much stuff am I carrying with me? You know, it's interesting that the Latin word for baggage is impedimenta. I remembered that from freshman Latin class, very few things I remembered from that. But yeah, that was one that stuck with me. That's exactly what the baggage is. Is impediments, how much baggage are you carrying with? Have you let go of any of it or are you collecting more? I don't know about you, but I'm getting older every minute. I'm getting a little bit more tired of carrying so much baggage around with me. Can I let go of somebody? Can I even begin to think of starting to let go of stuff that no longer serves me? Patterns of thought and behavior that might've served me one time in my life, but they just don't work anymore. Can I let them go? Can I be free of those things that I need to be free of? When I reach this particular time in my life, can I begin to let go of those things that I no longer need? Or am I just collecting more stuff? I'm not going to wind up like Thoreau at the end of his life who said, "Oh God, who have reached the point of death. And realized that I'd never lived," that all I've done is collected more baggage.
How free am I? Thomas Berger translated this from the Chinese years and years ago, it was a poem called the Archer. When the archer is shooting for nothing, he has all of his skill. If he shoots for a brass buckle he is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets. He's out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting and the need to win drains. I came across something like that personally, a couple of weeks ago, Phil asked if I would do some music for Sunday service. And I became so attached to my performance that I lost. I became so attached to what I thought other people might want I lost. I was shooting for a brass buckle or prize or goal. And I went nuts. I started to get targets. I'm over here looking for the answer and the answer is happening over there, I'm attached to the way I think it should be. It's only my ego consciousness attached to that. It's not my true self freedom.
When Margo and I bought our first home being the rather compulsive person. I am. I made up a schedule about how, how we were going to clean the house and who was going to do wrong. The first time when I pulled out this list, I said, well, Margo, you can clean the living room and I'll do the kitchen and we're living in a tri-level house. So I look over this balcony railing to look from the kitchen down into the living room. I'm polishing this and doing this and doing that and cleaning the refrigerator just about getting ready to clean the floor. And I said, I think to myself, well, Margo is good. I look over the railing and she's sitting on the couch reading time magazine. And I said, "What are you doing?"
She said, "I'm pausing." I said, "You can't pause until you finish." That's my rule right? Can't pause. Pausing is freedom. Not pausing was going along with the rules I had invented for myself in my head that I thought you had to go back. Margo is a great one for this. You don't, that's just a rule you made up. I didn't know why we even made it up. I didn't know it wasn't free. Sometimes I don't know that I'm not free until I'm faced with it. Serenity or God grabbing the surrender, that's freedom asking for help. That's freedom. What situations in my life do I experience myself as being the most free? That would be a really great direction. Instead of analyzing and saying, where am I not free? Am I experiencing myself as being the most free? Where is God? Where is love the most obvious to me? And then take a moment just to listen to the answers. When you get some answers to those questions or those observations ask, "How can I begin to apply that the rest of my life? What are some things areas in my life that sort of sucked the life out of me, suck me dry? How can I bring that love of freedom?" That sense of openness, that sense of awareness. How can I bring that into the picture for me?
This is those answers to those questions. That's freedom. Albert Schweitzer once said, if ever there is a man or a woman who's lost alone, afraid or hungry, he is my responsibility. That's freedom. Doesn't sound like freedom to the ego, but that is freedom to the soul. Whoever needs me. Am I giving up anything? Only on my ego consciousness level, my personality. So am I giving something that I think is important? How many times have we done that of giving up something we thought was important to allow something, something loving or something passionate or something forgiving to come into our life and realize why was I holding onto that? And I could see love instead of this. I could see pieces that I could experience joy.
How free am I? Wonderful Lady Nightbird ended her session by saying this: You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore before you decide to be happy. You can't wait until life isn't hard anymore until you decide what freedom isfor you today? What's it going to be like, what's it going to be like, if you could paint a picture of freedom for yourself? Is it going to look any different from what you plan for when your thinking is shifted? How open am I to freedom? How open are my degrees? How open am I to the truth? How often am I seeing the truth and that freedom in you?
My grandson has started calling me Gerry instead of Grandpa. At first I was a little bit insulted by that. And then I realized he was changing the rules. He was changing the roles we have. He was saying, I want to be your friend, I want to look you in the eye and say, I love you. How am I going to honor somebody else's feeding today? When it gets in the way of my ego consciousness, can I be free enough to allow you to be free. Can I be free enough to allow myself to be free?
May all beings be at peace and all beings be free of suffering. May all beings remember who they are.