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Freedom to Change the World


    Bill Isaacs:  We have an opportunity here together in this moment to commune. It is somewhat unusual that a group of people might step easily into an "upper room," the name sometimes given to the experience of being together in spirit, without any outer catalyst. This is however our natural state. We all live in an integrated operational whole. Every detail is exquisitely and finely woven. Participating within this whole provides the experience of infinite freedom. It is a vast place, this place of communion, ranging from the largest order of things to the most microscopic.

    Human beings of course do not typically experience this freedom on a regular basis, ourselves perhaps at times included. The world seems to be constrained on many fronts. We encounter obstacles, limitations, and difficulties of all kinds—both personally and collectively. We can observe events in the world and in human civilization as a whole, seemingly taking several steps forward and then several more back when it comes to this topic. But motivating human beings everywhere is this quest—a quest for a state that in fact is already present.

    There are enormous amounts of human energy dedicated to what people think of as, "changing the world." Many entrepreneurs for instance, in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, have the ambition to produce what they would think of as unprecedented breakthroughs. Some are trying, for instance, to mine asteroids for precious metals, or to make the possibility of sequencing the human genome available for everyone, thereby facilitating perfectly personalized medicine—by quantifying the "self" as it is being put. Others seek to feed millions of people on a scale and pace that has never been done before. And, some are trying to dramatically extend human life and "solve the problem of death." Enormous amounts of resources, attention and energy are being dedicated to the challenge of the extension of human life, including through new forms of biomedical engineering that attempt to understand and unlock the aging factors in cells and turn them off.

    All of these endeavors are in various ways attempts to increase human freedom. People define freedom differently, of course. For some it means economic freedom. For others, freedom of movement, or freedom of expression, or freedom of purpose—where you are free to make up your own purpose; and for yet others it means freedom from death. The quest for freedom is being intensified now by the apparent availability of technology to accelerate and liberate constraints on human experience.

    We can see this quest for freedom oscillating at the larger political level, too. For millennia human beings have moved between two poles: one where the attempt was to provide a pattern of governance that consisted of "freedom within constraints"—what is sometimes called a "closed society," and others to liberate energy and free people from the imposition of political order in an "open society." In either case distortions appear. The closed societies—famously proposed by Plato initially, where everything was to be harmonized to a core set of ideals, and practiced by places like Singapore, sometimes devolved into totalitarianism and the cruel imposition of order. The open societies, which were meant to liberate people from such problems devolved into disorder and anarchy and displayed the well-known failings of democracy, which is showing itself now to be increasingly ill-equipped to handle modern challenges.

    Human beings lurch from one side of the boat to the other politically speaking, searching after a solution at this level, too. It is possible when examining any human ideology to see truth in it. There is something to the idea of participation in an organic and ordered whole, and there's something to the idea of being free from constraint. But none of these things are achievable in the way currently being sought, leading to great frustration and endless recycling of difficulty. Many people are noticing this these days and are awakening to what is sometimes framed as a search for some other way of thinking and feeling, some other route for change. Much of this manifests in earnest efforts "to change the world."

    But difficulties arise because people are making two problematic assumptions. First, one could ask the question, "Where is the world one is seeking to change?" The so-called self-evident answer is—it's "out there," in the masses of people that are starving or the possibility of technological breakthrough yet to be made, or in the political order that would bring real reform. But the world isn't merely out there, objectively speaking. It is also in here, within us. This understanding is discounted typically because the assumption is that our "subjective" experience doesn't really matter—using this term pejoratively to mean limited to oneself and therefore an illusory distortion or a random function of our unique and limited history. Something subjective is nothing like the "objective" hard facts that determine experience and demand real change. There are many reasons for this split in view that the subjective isn't to be taken too seriously and the objective the only thing that is relevant. But it is the case that our interior lives, the life we live within our own consciousness, in fact forms the world. We operate in a holographic universe. The whole is present within each part. Now our impact, acting from the interior of ourselves, can either be minute or immense, and this is where choice and a true understanding of freedom comes in. When we act from within ourselves in line with the operational Tone of Life, we have an impact far more immense then human assessments can understand.

    So one assumption is that the world we want to change is "out there." The other assumption is even more thoroughly in the blind spot of human consciousness, and is contained in the question—who is the you wanting to do the change?" What is the motive? Who is it that wants to be free and imagines that he or she isn't? There is a phony self lurking here, constrained and seeking to liberate itself. Every effort it makes intensifies the stickiness of the web, and intensifies the troubles from which it continues to try to free itself.

    One way to think about freedom is to consider the whole dense system of subconscious experience that human beings carry. We could call this the "tacit" level of experience. Tacit knowledge is the kind of thing you have when you get on a bicycle after a period of not having ridden—this assumes that you actually learned at one point—and very quickly your body knows what to do. It clicks into gear, so to speak. You know how to ride the bicycle. You cannot really say very clearly what it is you're doing and in fact if you try to write it down or say it, it's not very helpful. This kind of knowledge about riding is tacit—you know more than you can say.

    There are other kinds of tacit knowledge however. We have tacit knowledge and tacit impulses about how to think. There are many explorations these days in cognitive science and behavioral economics that point out how utterly conditioned human thinking really is. We imagine that we are free to make choices when we are actually very easily manipulated and easily confused by simple factors—by the last thing we heard, by simple cues in the ways people approach us, by past stories from our experience that blind us to what is here now. All these things shift our thinking in ways we don't even realize.

    There is a tacit infrastructure guiding how we think, a conditioned layer that emerges individually and is present collectively—a collective infrastructure of thought. Human beings are in fact much less free than they even imagine. This tacit range goes yet further because it applies to how we feel and to what we imagine are our own feelings when these are often flowing from sources triggered by memories and conditioning we don't even realize we have. And finally there is tacit understanding about identity, a whole assumed experience of what it means to be oneself. This is an inherited accumulation and amalgamation of historically generated collective memory in human beings. It is a layer out of which we operate, and which seems to give us our sense of self.

    This veil of tacit memory is however easily and naturally released as one comes to be aware of and then to love whatever it is that's animating all of this. Interestingly enough the most ancient root of the word free is "love." The true state of freedom is the condition of Love. Buried in our language are clues to real freedom.

    Human beings enslave themselves. They accept a tacit narrative, a story about where they are, who they are, where they come from, and then endeavor to try to escape it. One of the escape routes seems to be to create a new story and people are often endeavoring to do this. You find that when people are struggling it is often because somehow their story got broken, and so the continuity of experience that they were holding got interrupted and they are lost. This shows the grip this tacit layer has on us. But these are idols, that is, false images. When people lose their narrative they rapidly try to regenerate it, to fill the void. But this is the opposite of what's required, which is to stand naked and unashamed, without a human narrative, simply in the presence of Being.

    This allows us to experience the vastness and wholeness that is already here. There is a layer below the infrastructure of thought, which actually contains the densest ranges of substance, those ranges closest to Being itself. Experiencing these finer and denser ranges more intensely requires the purification of one's heart. This is a continuous effort and an ongoing task because factors from the more superficial layers of the tacit infrastructure arise within us continuously. We have the responsibility of purification of these factors, meaning we let them change within us. And as we do, this changes the world of our consciousness. It is quite vital not to translate any of this in too limited a way, to take it "personally." The narrative for most people is that whatever is happening is merely personal to me. This narrows the range of one's impact and experience because it accepts the narrative of oneself as a lonely isolated human ego. Changing the world requires a change of identity, and to allow the radiation of Life that I Am to emerge through my mind and heart moment by moment, regardless of the apparent constraints, limitations, and obstacles that my mind and heart tell me are present. How powerful can this internal work really be, it could be asked? It can all seem inconsequential from the perspective of the phony self.

    It is therefore helpful to see an example that illustrates and makes visible what happens when someone truly acts from this core place of Being. A very practical example occurred in 1955 when a young woman named Rosa Parks, who was sitting on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, at about 5pm, was asked by the bus driver to give up her seat to a white passenger. She was sitting in the so-called no man's land in the middle of the bus, which was meant for the overflow of white passengers. The driver asked her to move and she refused. In an outer sense it is worth examining what it is she did. She remained seated. In an outer sense she actually did—nothing.

    When people speak about changing the world, the images that often come up in their minds involve things like making great speeches or displaying some kind of physical heroism. But it really is the quality of the action that matters. In this particular case, Rosa Parks acted from an identity of already being free, with the tone and authority of authentic Being. This was not actually a random occurrence but a strategic one, with much behind it. Parks had been trained at a unique place called the Highlander school in Tennessee where, somewhat hidden from view, white and black people for the first time came together in the South to interact and learn together. She had been exposed to the idea of a different kind of society—one that was more whole, and was actively working towards that end. But what is most evident, when one hears her describe her experience is her stature. Her words are simple, but the strength behind them shines through:

"Back in Montgomery during my growing up there, it was completely legally enforced racial segregation, and of course, I struggled against it for a long time. I felt that it was not right to be deprived of freedom when we were living in the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free. Of course, when I refused to stand up, on the orders of the bus driver, for a white passenger to take the seat, and I was not sitting in the front of the bus, as many people have said, and neither was my feet hurting, as many people have said. But I made up my mind that I would not give in any longer to legally-imposed racial segregation and of course my arrest brought about the protests for more than a year. And in doing so, Dr. Martin Luther King became prominent because he was the leader of our protests along with many other people. And I'm very glad that this experience I had then brought about a movement that triggered across the United States and in other places." (see a video clip of this here)

    Rosa Parks at 85 was as humble and upstanding as she was as a young woman, according to reports from people who knew her. Hers was an act that created more freedom in a human sense, because it emerged from a woman whose expression was not in fact caught up at that level.

    Simple but clear divine expression reverberates everywhere. The quest to find freedom from the constraints of a world made by the human ego is futile. The sooner human beings face that fact, the more rapidly can transformational changes emerge. Historic acts like this one can seem remote to one's day-to-day experience, but this same quality may in fact appear through anyone anywhere, because the opportunity to function from a place of ease is available.

    There is of course a catch for the human ego. To the degree one is caught reacting to the external world, attempting for instance to bring "spiritual energy" to impose change, then the result is actually very limited in its impact. The results can seem large, but if one is still functioning within a limited framework, then in fact they do not amount to much. This does not stop people from making the attempt. There are whole industries dedicated to teaching people how to muster their energy to overcome the constraints as defined by the ego when what is really needed is a shift in orientation.

    Below the level of the tacit patterns of historic identity is light. We live in the ranges of Being that are filled with light, the temples of light. And while our human consciousness can sometimes narrow and become less aware, the natural state, the ease and communion in this Place is our home. It is invisible, but even that word doesn't quite do justice to it. Invisible perhaps to human eyes but not in fact invisible to me.

    Where is the world? What does it take to so-called "change the world?" We are each in position to speak as Life and to recall and reveal this remarkable and natural reality. It is simple to the point of confounding to a human ego that wants and needs complexity. I am grateful for the quiet and very real presence on earth in this day of those who are aware of who they are as part of this wider body of communion in a conscious sense, who recognize the Tone, and who hunger to continuously relinquish human bonds and live in the true state of freedom.

March 19, 2017

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