July 4 is the day we celebrate freedom in the United States. Have you noticed how the word “freedom” has morphed over the years? Currently, freedom means “free to do whatever I want to do.”
The Buddha taught a different definition of freedom–free from stress, free from discontent, free from dukkha, which is the thirst of wanting, wanting, wanting. Wanting stuff, wanting certain people and not others, wanting things to be different than they are. Here’s the conundrum: How would it feel to be free from “free to do what I want”?
Just imagine the freedom to accept things as they are, in this very moment. Accepting things as they are comes with the shadow of resistance–“But i don’t want to accept….” that awful person, that traumatic event, that unpleasant situation. How to drop the resistance and let life be just as it is?
Regret over the past is useless. The toothpaste is already out of the tube.
Worry about the future is useless. As Shantideva said many centuries ago, “If you can do something about it, why worry? If you cannot do anything about it, why worry?”
Nowadays, there’s a very popular belief that “if i don’t worry, i don’t care.” Question that tangle of beliefs. Caring is stress-free–it’s a natural opening of the heart. Worry is loaded with stress. The so-called caring that comes with worrying is loaded with trying to control the situation or the people so that I won’t suffer. That kind of caring is all about me; it’s not about the loved one, the friend, the suffering one. Take a very close look and tell me what you find.
Happy Freedom Day. May you be free from stress. May you be free from wanting things to be different than they are. May you relax into the All-Being Oneness.