the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Just as there is only one taste in the ocean—the taste of salt—so in Buddhism there is only one taste. The taste of Freedom.
Free your mind, and the rest will follow.
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live…
-The New Seekers (Marlo Thomas, Free to Be You and Me)
I will have my final cancer-related intervention –a minor, same-day reconstructive procedure -- on Tuesday, April 15th.This corresponds to the first day of Passover, a holiday celebrating the Jewish exodus from slavery to freedom. While this holiday focuses on external forces that enslave, true freedom comes from within -- when we stop judging ourselves, judging others, and blaming external conditions for our difficulties. We all have the capacity to manifest our own liberation. As Janus Joplin teaches us,“freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Freedom comes when we release our hindrances. By embracing my fear of death – inviting her to the table, chewing on her bones, sucking out the marrow and realizing she was empty inside – I invited freedom into my life. Losing my fear of death freed my mind as well as my spirit.
I am cancer-free and fearless.
Don’t get me wrong – I experience moments of fear, but I have worked hard to cultivate a practice of unpacking the emotion and not letting it define or control me. It was a last-minute decision to host this Freedom Mob. I did not want to call attention to me undergoing reconstructive surgery. I feared being judged as vain. I was projecting my internal shame onto my community (and briefly entertained the idea of hosting a Virtual Vanity Mob instead). By openly expressing my fears, I take the wind out of its sails. It gives me the freedom to be myself without restraint.
In honor of my final surgery, I invite you as part of my healing community to explore your relationship to freedom. What does freedom look like to you? What stands between you and freedom? What would it look like for you to not judge yourself or others? In what ways do your actions inhibit others’ freedom? Consider the possibility that you can dance with your mental obstacles and experience joy, regardless of external circumstances. In the Passover story, the Red Sea parts and Miriam leads the community in dance.
Before my surgery, I will dance to En Vogue’s “Free your mind”.
Will you join me?
Other musings on freedom:
Tara Brach on “Freedom in the Midst of Difficulty”
Freedom songs sung in the Civil Rights Movement:
A brief history of freedom songs:
FreeYour Mind (En Vogue):
May we all be free…