10. Steling freedom for your soul

The prerequisite to true freedom is to decide that you do not want to suffer anymore. You must decide that you want to enjoy your life and that there is no reason for stress, inner pain, or fear.
Every day we bear a burden that we should not be bearing. We fear that we are not good enough or that we will fail. We experience insecurity, anxiety, and self-consciousness.
We fear that people will turn on us, take advantage of us, or stop loving us. All of these things burden us tremendously.
This weight is the fear of experiencing pain, anguish, or sorrow.
Every day we are either feeling it, or we are protecting ourselves from feeling it. It is such a core influence that we don’t even realize how prevalent it is.

When Buddha said that all of life is suffering, this is what he was referring to.
People do not understand how much they are suffering because they have never experienced what it is like to not suffer.

Your inner sensitivities expose you to a minute-to-minute, constant situation in which you are suffering to one degree or another.
This state of affairs is so prevalent that you don’t see it, just as a fish doesn’t see the water.
You only notice that you’re suffering when it gets worse than usual. You admit you have a problem when it gets so bad that it actually begins to affect your everyday behavior.

You only think about your body when there is a problem. In contrast, you think about your psychological well-being all the time.
That constant, anxious inner talk is a form of suffering.
That is the pain of having to think about yourself all the time.

Why are so many thoughts about I, me, and mine? Look how often you think about how you’re doing, whether you like things or not, and how to rearrange the world to please yourself. You think like this because you’re not okay inside, and you’re constantly trying to make yourself feel better.

To end suffering, you must first realize that your psyche is not okay. You must then acknowledge that it does not have to be that way.
It is truly a gift just to realize that you don’t have to put up with, or protect, your psyche. You don’t have to constantly be mulling over what you said or what this person thinks of you.
Inner sensitivity is a symptom of non-well-being. It’s the same as when the body sends pain or displays other symptoms when it’s not well. Pain is not bad; it’s how the body talks to you.
When you overeat, you get a stomachache.
The body is communicating through its universal language: pain.
Your psyche is communicating through its universal language: fear. Self-consciousness, jealousy, insecurity, anxiety—they are all fear.

If you mistreat an animal, it becomes afraid. This is what has happened to your psyche.
You said to your mind, “I want everyone to like me. I don’t want anyone to speak badly of me. I want everything I say and do to be acceptable and pleasing to everyone. I don’t want anyone to hurt me. I don’t want anything to happen that I don’t like. And I want everything to happen that I do like.”
“Now, mind, figure out how to make every one of these things a reality, even if you have to think about it day and night.”
your mind said, “I’m on the job. I will work on it constantly.”

The mind has to try to make it so that everything you say is said the right way. It has to make sure that everything you do is interpreted and seen the right way. It has to make sure that you get everything you want, and that you don’t ever get what you don’t want.
That is why the mind is so active; you gave it an impossible task to do.
It’s equivalent to expecting your body to lift trees and scale mountains in a single jump.
The signs of the body breaking are pain and weakness. The signs of the psyche breaking are underlying fear and incessant neurotic thought.

At some point, you have to wake up and acknowledge that you have a problem inside.
Just watch and you’ll see that your mind is constantly telling you what to do.
This act of constantly worrying about yourself is a form of suffering. But how do you fix this? How do you get it to stop?
If you don’t do something about this, it will go on for the rest of your life.

if you are wise, you won’t play this game. You’ll realize that the advice your mind is giving you is psychologically damaged advice. Your mind’s thoughts are disturbed by its fears.
Of all the advice in the world that you do not want to listen to, it is the advice of a disturbed mind. Your mind actually misleads you.

Success regarding your psyche is comparable to health regarding your physical body.
Success means you never have to think about your psyche again.
you should never have to figure out how to be okay, or how not to be scared, or how to feel loved. You should not have to devote your life to your psyche.

Imagine what fun life would be if you didn’t have those neurotic, personal thoughts going on within you. You could enjoy things, and you could actually get to know people instead of needing them.
You could just live and experience your life, instead of trying to use life to fix what’s wrong inside of you.

Your current relationship with your psyche is like an addiction. It is constantly making demands of you, and you have devoted your life to serving these demands.
You are capable of ceasing the absurdity of listening to the perpetual problems of your psyche. You can put an end to it. You can wake up in the morning, look forward to the day, and not worry about what will happen.
Your daily life can be like a vacation.
That does not mean you don’t do your best; you just have fun doing your best. Then, at night when you go to sleep, you let it all go. You just live your life without getting uptight and worrying about it. You actually live life instead of fearing or fighting it.

The way you stop smoking is to stop putting cigarettes in your mouth.
to get out of your psychological mess. You just stop telling your mind that its job is to fix your personal problems.
Your mind has very little control over this world. It is neither omniscient nor omnipotent. It cannot control the weather and other natural forces. Nor can it control all people, places, and things around you.
You have given your mind an impossible task by asking it to manipulate the world in order to fix your personal inner problems.
stop asking your mind to do this.
Just relieve your mind of the job of making sure that everyone and everything will be the way you need them to be so that you can feel better inside. Your mind is not qualified for that job. Fire it, and let go of your inner problems instead.

Whenever it starts up telling you what you should or shouldn’t do in order to get the world to match your preconceived concepts, don’t listen. It’s just like when you try to stop smoking. Regardless of what your mind says, you don’t pick up a cigarette and put it in your mouth.
when your mind starts telling you what you have to do to make everything inside okay, don’t buy into what it’s telling you. The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything.

All you have to do is stop expecting the mind to fix what’s wrong inside of you. That is the core, the root of it all.
The mind is simply a computer, a tool.
It can be used to ponder great thoughts, solve scientific problems, and serve humanity.
But you, in your lost state, told it to spend its time conjuring up outer solutions for your very personal inner problems.
You are the one who is trying to use the analytical mind to protect yourself from the natural unfolding of life.

By watching your mind, you will notice that it is engaged in the process of trying to make everything okay. Consciously remember that this is not what you want to do.
Do not ever fight your mind. You will never win. It will either beat you now, or you will suppress it and it will come back and beat you later.
Instead of fighting the mind, just don’t participate in it. When you see the mind telling you how to fix the world and everyone in it in order to suit yourself, just don’t listen.

The key is to be quiet. It’s not that your mind has to be quiet. You be quiet. You, the one inside watching the neurotic mind, just relax.
ou are not the thinking mind; you are aware of the thinking mind. You are the consciousness that is behind the mind and is aware of the thoughts.
The minute you stop putting your whole heart and soul into the mind as if it were your savior and protector, you will find yourself behind the mind watching it.

Thinking is something you watch the mind do.
It is not something that you have to think about.
You can watch the mind being neurotic and not get involved.
The mind runs because you are giving it the power of your attention.

Begin with the little things. For example, somebody says something to you that you don’t like.
You are walking along and you see a friend. You say hello to them but they just keep walking by.
You don’t know if they didn’t hear you or if they actually ignored you. You aren’t sure if they’re mad at you or what’s going on. Your mind starts going a mile a minute.

Use these little things that happen in daily life to free yourself. In the above example, you simply choose not to get involved in the psyche.
you are ready, willing, and able to watch your mind create its little melodrama. Watch all of its noise about how hurt you are, and how could anybody do that. Watch the mind try to figure out what to do about it. Just marvel at the fact that all of this is going on inside simply because someone didn’t say hello to you. It’s truly unbelievable.
Just watch the mind talk, and keep relaxing and releasing. Fall behind the noise.

Just keep doing this with all those little things that come up each day. It is a very private thing you do inside yourself.
You will soon see that your mind is constantly driving you crazy over nothing.
If you don’t want to be like that, then stop putting energy into your psyche.
Do not get involved in it. And do not try to stop it. Simply be aware that you are seeing it. That’s how you get out. You just let it go.

Begin this journey to freedom by regularly reminding yourself to watch the psyche. This will keep you from getting lost in it.
you must set up a method to remind yourself to watch.

Every time you get into your car, as you’re settling into the seat, just stop. Take a moment to remember that you’re spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space. Then remind yourself that you’re not going to get involved in your own melodrama.
remind yourself that you don’t want to play the mind game.
you can also do this before you pick up the phone or open a door.
Just be there, noticing that you notice. It’s like taking inventory. Just check out what’s going on—heart, mind, shoulders, etc.
Set up trigger points in everyday life that help you remember who you are and what’s going on inside.

Eventually, you will have persistently centered consciousness.
In this state, you are always ­conscious of being conscious.
There is never a time when you’re not totally aware. There is no effort. There is no doing anything. You’re just there, aware that thoughts and emotions are being created around you, while the world unfolds before your senses.

Now what used to hold you down becomes what wakes you up. But first you have to get quiet enough so that it’s not so reactive in there.
Eventually it will become quiet enough so that you can simply watch the heart begin to react, and let go before the mind starts.
At some point in the journey it all becomes heart, not mind. You will see that the mind follows the heart. The heart reacts way before the mind starts talking.
The mind doesn’t even get a chance to start up because you let go at the heart level.

The very thing that was holding you in is now helping you out. You have to use all energies to your advantage.
Right in the midst of your daily life, by untethering yourself from the bondage of your psyche, you actually have the ability to steal freedom for your soul. This freedom is so great it has been given a special name—liberation.


11 - Pain, the price of freedom

One of the essential requirements for true spiritual growth and deep personal transformation is coming to peace with pain. No expansion or evolution can take place without change, and periods of change are not always comfortable.
Change involves challenging what is familiar to us and daring to question our traditional needs for safety, comfort, and control.

Becoming familiar with this pain is part of your growth. Even though you may not actually like the feelings of inner disturbance, you must be able to sit quietly inside and face them if you want to see where they come from.
Once you can face your disturbances, you will realize that there is a layer of pain seated deep in the core of your heart. This pain is so uncomfortable, so challenging, and so destructive to the individual self, that your entire life is spent avoiding it. Your entire personality is built upon ways of being, thinking, acting, and believing that were developed to avoid this pain.

Since avoiding the pain prohibits you from exploring the part of your being that is beyond that layer, real growth takes place when you finally decide to deal with the pain.
Because the pain is at the core of the heart, it radiates out and affects everything you do.
But this pain is not the physical pain that you receive as messages from your body. Inner pain is always there, underneath, hidden by the layers of our thoughts and emotions. We feel it most when our hearts go into turmoil, like when the world does not meet our expectations. This is an inner, psychological pain.

Your personality traits and behavior patterns are all about avoiding this pain. You avoid it by keeping your weight a certain way, wearing certain clothes, talking a certain way, and choosing a certain hairstyle.
Everything you do is about the avoidance of this pain. If you want to validate this, just see what happens if someone mentions your weight or criticizes your clothes: you feel pain. Every time you do something in the name of avoiding pain, that something becomes a link that holds the potential for the pain you’re avoiding.
You cannot even interact with people or do other normal daily activities without events affecting your heart.

To get some distance from this, you first need to get some perspective. Walk outside on a clear night and just look up into the sky. You are sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Though you can only see a few thousand stars, there are hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone. In fact, it is estimated that there are over a trillion stars in the Spiral Galaxy. And that galaxy would look like one star to us, if we could even see it. You’re just standing on one little ball of dirt and spinning around one of the stars. From that perspective, do you really care what people think about your clothes or your car? Do you really need to feel embarrassed if you forget someone’s name? How can you let these meaningless things cause pain?

One choice is to leave the pain inside and continue to struggle with the outside. The other choice is to decide that you don’t want to spend your entire life avoiding the inner pain.
Few people ever dare to turn the process inside.
Most people don’t even realize that they are running around with pockets of pain inside that need to be worked out.
Do you really want to carry that inside and have to manipulate the world to avoid feeling it?
What would your life be like if it wasn’t run by that pain? You would be free. You could walk around this world completely free, just having fun, just being comfortable with whatever happens.
you can simply live your life and experience what it’s like to be on a planet that is spinning around in the middle of nowhere, until you die.

If you want to be free, simply view inner pain as a temporary shift in your energy flow.
There is no reason to fear this experience.
You must not be afraid of rejection, or of how you would feel if you got sick, or if someone died, or if something else went wrong.
You cannot spend your life avoiding things that are not actually happening, or everything will become negative.
All you will end up seeing is how much can potentially go wrong.
If you want to grow and be free to explore life, you cannot spend your life avoiding the myriad things that might hurt your heart or mind.

You must look inside yourself and determine that from now on pain is not a problem. It is just a thing in the universe. Somebody can say something to you that can cause your heart to react and catch fire, but then it passes. It’s a temporary experience.
If you feel insecurity, it’s just a feeling. You can handle a feeling. If you feel embarrassed, it’s just a feeling. It’s just a part of creation. If you feel jealousy and your heart burns, just look at it objectively, like you would a mild bruise. It’s a thing in the universe that is passing through your system. Laugh at it, have fun with it, but don’t be afraid of it.

When something painful touches your body, you tend to pull away instinctively. You even do this with unpleasant smells and tastes.
your psyche does the same thing.
It does this with insecurity, jealousy…
In essence, you “close,” which is simply an attempt to put a shield around your inner energy.
It's like the sensation of contracting within your heart.
Somebody says something displeasing, and you feel some disturbance in your heart. Then your mind starts talking: “I don’t have to put up with this. I’ll just walk away and never talk to them again. They’ll be sorry.”
Your heart is attempting to pull back from what it’s experiencing and protect itself so that it doesn’t have to experience that feeling again.
As long as you can’t handle the pain, you will react by closing in order to protect yourself. Once you close, your mind will build an entire psychological structure around your closed energy. Your thoughts will try to rationalize why you’re right, why the other person’s wrong, and what you should do about it.

If you buy into this, it will become a part of you. For years the pain will remain inside and actually become one of the building blocks of your entire life.
It will shape your future reactions, thoughts, and preferences.
If you have the clarity to watch this happen, and understand the long-term consequences, you will want to be free of this trap. You will never be free, however, until you get to the point where you are willing to release the initial pain instead of avoiding it. You must learn to transcend the tendency to avoid the pain.

Wise beings do not want to remain a slave to the fear of pain. They permit the world to be what it is instead of being afraid of it.
If life does something that causes a disturbance inside of you, instead of pulling away, let it pass through you like the wind. After all, things happen every day that cause inner disturbance. At any moment you can feel frustration, anger, fear, jealousy, insecurity, or embarrassment.
you have to learn to stop fighting these human feelings.

When you feel pain, simply view it as energy. Just start seeing these inner experiences as energy passing through your heart and before the eye of your consciousness. Then relax.
Do the opposite of contracting and closing. Relax and release.
Relax your heart until you are actually face-to-face with the exact place where it hurts.
Stay open and receptive so you can be present right where the tension is.
But you will not want to do this. You will feel tremendous resistance to doing this, and that’s what makes it so powerful.
As you relax and feel the resistance, the heart will want to pull away, to close, to protect, and to defend itself. Keep relaxing. Relax your shoulders and relax your heart. Let go and give room for the pain to pass through you. It’s just energy. Just see it as energy and let it go.

If you don’t want the pain, why do you close around it and keep it? Do you actually think that if you resist, it will go away?
That is what all the noise is inside your mind: an attempt to avoid the stored pain.

If you want to be free, you must first accept that there is pain in your heart. You have stored it there. And you’ve done everything you can think of to keep it there, deep inside, so that you never have to feel it.
There is also tremendous joy, beauty, love, and peace within you. But they are on the other side of the pain.
On the other side of the pain is ecstasy. On the other side is freedom. Your true greatness hides on the other side of that layer of pain.
You must be willing to accept pain in order to pass through to the other side.

pain is the price of freedom. And the moment you are willing to pay that price, you will no longer be afraid.
The moment you are not afraid of the pain, you’ll be able to face all of life’s situations without fear.

Remember, if you close around something, you will be psychologically sensitive about that subject for the rest of your life. Because you stored it inside of you, you will be afraid that it will happen again.
This is the core of spiritual work. When you are comfortable with pain passing through you, you will be free.
This world will never be able to bother you again because the worst the world can do is to hit the pain stored within you. If you do not care, if you are no longer afraid of yourself, you are free.
You will then be able to walk through this world more vibrant and alive than ever before. You will feel everything at a deeper level. You will begin to have truly beautiful experiences rise up within you.
Eventually you will understand that there is an ocean of love behind all of this fear and pain.
When you pass beyond the layer of pain, you will finally be free from the binds of the psyche.