The Street Retreat in NYC opened me to a much deeper understanding of freedom. So many times I find myself attempting to satisfy someone else or fulfill the will of another, all the while rejecting my own conscience. I believe that our conscience is a pure guide that moves us in the direction of service to the greater good so long as we allow ourselves to be completely open to its guidance in the Present Moment, Here & Now.
When we clutter our lives with material possessions and all sorts of obligations to various people and organizations that we are not very passionate about, we restrict our freedom and shun our conscience.
For some reason, it might not be the easiest thing in the world to follow our conscience. Letting any notions we have of the future go and just being completely present and open to our moral compass to act Here & Now can be a frightening idea, at least to me. Surrendering completely to the Present Moment as your conscience takes you…wow.
During the week of the Street Retreat, I lived without any material possessions beyond the clothes on my back and three tennis balls used for juggling. This minimalist lifestyle allowed me to more fully open to the Moment and my conscience. It was intensely liberating. For much of the retreat, joy filled my spirit and every step that I walked on the streets next to my brother. Uplifted and elated, I lived by intuition and let myself be called to service and goodness in the Present Moment.
I have since maintained a minimalist lifestyle, although I currently have a car, laptop, and a bag or two of clothes. I find that my freedom to flow in the Moment and let my conscience guide me has also not been quite as great as during the Street Retreat. I feel restricted from time to time, yet I still find much greater levels of freedom than during the times previous to the Street Retreat when I was living with money and more possessions.
In so many ways, I find that my material possessions enslave me. To the extent that I am still attached to some of my material possessions and do not feel at ease to simply give them all away or abandon them, I’ve allowed my material possessions to bind me to particular locations and particular actions. So, I am not completely free! But, thankfully, the level of freedom that I do have still brings me great levels of Love, Peace, and Joy. I know that I’m still missing out on even greater levels of freedom, like the level of freedom I experienced on the Street Retreat, and someday soon I hope to regain that freedom, either by means of detachment or giving away more of my material possessions. Meditation, I find, is also a very valuable practice that allows me to more greatly connect with the Present Moment, my conscience, and free myself from any notions of attachment to either possessions, the past, or the future.
Absolute freedom is one of my ideals. With absolute freedom comes a complete trust in one’s conscience, which I understand to be a manifestation of our divinely endowed spirit. Living by conscience also means transcending reason, also known as that pesky little tendency we might have to “rationalize” (rational lies) our way out of doing what we intuitively know is the best decision. Our minds are tricksters and can hold us from following our hearts and trusting in ourselves. Our minds can also trick us to feeling an attachment to something as impermanent as a book or our physical bodies – both of which will inevitably turn to dust.
I’ve spent the last few months which a major focus on cultivating my Spiritual Riches, that is those possessions endowed at birth that transcend the physicality of the world. Cultivating Spiritual Riches, however, also means cherishing the physical and mental capacities endowed to us as well. I do yoga, meditation, and lots of learning and teaching, striving to transcend attachment to the physical world and connect more fully with the Spiritual Nature of the Universe. In this way, I intend to free myself from attachment and hope to bring others along the liberating journey as well 🙂
So, here’s to Freedom!