A Taste Of Freedom
Guest post by Hal Manogue
No drives, no compulsions
No needs, no attractions
Then your affairs
Are under control
You are a free person.
Chuang Tzu, the Chinese writer and Philosopher, wrote those words over 2,300 years ago. The concept that less is more is now age thought at its finest. Just the idea that we could live freely without feeling the pressure of modern life is a goal worth achieving. Freedom is about unrestricted liberty and personal rights. But, society has tweaked our belief structure. Society, the mass group of individualized consciousness that physically lives to pursue happiness and abundance, has created a distorted image of freedom, and every member senses it in one way or another.
Our freedom is attached to an anchor filled with heavyweight restrictions. Freedom is a right as long as we conform to the rules that society enacts and enforces. Those rules express freedom in a way that enhances separation. In terms of moral behavior and political equality, freedom is a fragile commodity. The true freedom that Chuang Tzu describes has nothing to do with laws and regulations. It has everything to do with self-responsibility.
Tzu’s words are so foreign to our thinking that they’re hard to understand. He wrote about freedom this way:
Therefore, the truly great man, although he does not injure others, does not credit himself with charity and mercy. He seeks not gain, but does not despise his followers who do. He struggles not for wealth, but does not take credit for letting it alone. He asks help from no man, but takes no credit for his self-reliance; neither does he despise those who seek preferment through friends. He acts differently from the vulgar crowd, but takes no credit for his exceptionality. When others act with the majority he does not despise them as hypocrites. The ranks and emoluments of the world are to him no cause for joy; its punishments and shame no cause for disgrace. He knows that positive and negative cannot be distinguished.
We are educated to push and fight in order to get the freedom we want. Our beliefs tell us that if we let our affairs take care of themselves we would have nothing but chaos and wars. We would sink in the quicksand of bedlam, and the world as we know it would crumble from our complacency. Those beliefs create the freedom we experience.
We are victims of our beliefs. We live in a world of synthetic freedom, and it is fueled by conformity, control, righteousness, and power. Our personal worth and freedom are measured by our ability to believe in that social structure. That social structure is based on partials truths, and If we don’t believe those partial truths we are off balance outcasts that have a distorted and confused sense of reality.
Chuang Tzu put it this way:
Granting that you and I argue. If you beat me, and not I you, are you necessarily right and I wrong? Or if I beat you and not you me, am I necessarily right and you wrong? Or are we both partly right and partly wrong? Or are we both wholly right or wholly wrong? You and I cannot know this, and consequently the world will be in ignorance of the truth.
Who shall I employ as arbiter between us? If I employ some one who takes your view, he will side with you. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I employ some one who takes my view, he will side with me. How can such a one arbitrate between us? And if I employ some one who either differs from or agrees with both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us
Chuang Tzu was one of those outcasts. He didn’t believe in conforming control. He believed in individual freedom based on bliss and self-responsibility. The road to this sort of freedom starts with understanding how our belief structure creates our reality.
Joseph Campbell said:
Follow your bliss and you will discover freedom.
Bliss is a mental state where all positive desires are manifested. Bliss means tasting another quality of our free consciousness, which leaves nothing undone, and does everything freely. We can call those creations effortless effort― compliments of our spontaneous consciousness.
The book Living Behind The Beauty Shop depicts the bliss that manifests when freedom is a natural expression. The characters in the book begin to sense another quality of self, which has been hidden under a blanket of social conformity.
Living Behind The Beauty Shop is about a Middle Tennessee boy who understands that greater reality where the psyche is able to communicate with the self that is experiencing other dimensions. The boy, Mase Russell, is living with Down syndrome. He is considered disabled in our normal reality, but he is far more enabled and connected than we are to that stream of consciousness that flows through all of us. He is able to communicate with other aspects of the self while dreaming, and he accepts his dream experiences as real. He is even able to remember those experiences and express them in his own way. His family begins to sense that his disability is a challenging gift not a sentence of suffering.
His family is like any other family. They experience the typical dramas that we all create in our waking reality. His grandfather, Warren Russell is a wealthy business man that lives on his family’s 2000 acre farm in Leipers Fork, Tennessee. The farm was a land grant given to his triple great-grandfather after the American Revolution. Warren and his wife Claire considered the farm their rite of passage until they both experienced a near-death experience on a trip to Florida in their Cessna. After the accident Warren decides to donate 1000 acres to a non-profit foundation he formed called Perception Farms. Perception Farms is a self-sufficient community off the grid that gives the homeless a fresh start.
His daughter Cindy realizes that she’s gay after she marries her college sweetheart. She returns home from California and finds an ex-nun, who is now called Margie, at one of Perception Farm’s fundraisers. Margie discovered her true sexuality when she was in the convent. They become partners and decide to have a child using the sperm of their friend Alan Sutton, a well-educated and athletic individual who works in the shoe business. Baby Mase is born with DS and the story follows his life and the experiences of the family as he becomes an accomplished poet and artist.
Years later, Mase finds Mischa Eddington who is another Down syndrome artist, in a local college art class, and they develop a close relationship. Together they watch members of the family experience the pains of getting older. They offer the family another perspective about that aging process. The family realizes that Mase and Mischa chose to be born with Down syndrome in order to help others see that there are no boundaries or limits in physical life unless we put them there through our beliefs and perceptions. They show us that other realities are just as real as our waking reality.
When we consider that consciousness does not have a beginning or an end in the non-physical world we can better understand that the people we call disabled or homeless are actually teachers who choose to experience life in extraordinary ways. They teach us that putting limits, judgments, and sterilized beliefs in action is the art of separating one aspect of the self from other elements of the psyche.
When that happens, we find ourselves living in the beauty shop of life, which is filled with exterior self-serving nothingness.
Hal Manogue is an author of a recently published book Living Behind The Beauty Shop. Down syndrome is one of the main issues in his novel. He may be found at www.livingbehindthebeautyshop.com and www.halmanogue.blogspot.com.
Born in Philadelphia, Howard (Hal) (Howie) Thomas Manogue spent the first twenty-one years of his life conforming to logical beliefs and rituals. He spent the next twenty-six years of his life rebelling against those beliefs and rituals in one way or another. For the last twelve years he has devoted his life to dissecting beliefs and that journey has taken him through the history of religious thought and the intricacies of philosophy.
Retiring from the shoe industry after 35 years of “sole” searching, Hal discovered his real soul when he started writing poetry in 1996. His first book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends, was self-published in 2003. His second book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends 2006 Collection, was released in May 2006. His third book, Short Sleeves A Book For Friends 2007 Collection, was released in January 2007. Short Sleeves Spirit Songs was published in July 2008. Spirit Songs Echoes of Silence will be released in 2011. Essays from the book, Short Sleeves Insights: Live An Ordinary Life In A Non-Ordinary Way (published in May 2008) have been republished in other books and newsletters around the globe. All these books are available on his Web site: http://www.shortsleeves.net/.
Hal’s poems have been published by Mystic Pop Magazine, Children of the New Earth Magazine, New Age Tribune, Seasons of the Soul Newsletters, The Ascension Network, Lightship News, and Writers in the Sky E-zine. On his blog, he has published over a thousand essays on consciousness. More of his essays can be found on ezinearticles.com, bizymoms.com, authorsden.com, holistichealth.com, and newagetribune.com.
He works as a free-lance writer and is published all over the world. Hal currently lives in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife, Joanie.