I know you are; otherwise, you wouldn’t still be listening. We are going to arrive, I assure you, at a simple and understandable conclusion. So thanks for hanging in.
Know the truth and the truth will set you free.
The United States of America was established and built on the ideal of liberty. Everyone yearns to be free. But what exactly does freedom mean?
Many people will tell you freedom means being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. The personal definition of freedom for most is a “me” definition. I want absolute freedom; the ability to do what I want, when I want, where I want, with whatever I want; despite consequences. Freedom is all about “me.”
Well every force has an opposing force; a contrasting side; everything has a cost. On the flip side of the coin-of-freedom is responsibility.
Freedom always comes with responsibility. It is impossible to divorce freedom from responsibility. Yet we human beings try and try and try. We want freedom – the ability to do what we want, when we want – without regard to consequences. Consequences are what we are responsible for.
Just like realizing we determine how we feel; we must realize freedom is not free; freedom has consequences. And unless and until we are willing to accept the burden of those consequences – accept the responsibility which comes with freedom – we will never, never be free.
Freedom without responsibility is an adolescent pipe-dream; a fallacy; an illusion; it’s getting something for nothing. That’s just not the way life works.
Life is a dynamic place; a dynamic adventure. As we move through life we feel. What we feel, ultimately, is determined by our greatest power, our greatest strength – our ability to think. Yet most people find this truth repulsive. We refuse to know the truth. We long for freedom without consequence; freedom without responsibility.
We dig ourselves quite a hole.
Are you getting a sense of what the heck is going on? And it’s not about them and what’s out there. It’s about us and what’s in here.
But let’s keep moving forward. We haven’t painted the whole picture yet.
Remember our pleasure-pain continuum? Opposing forces are always active. We want to feel good and we don’t want to feel bad so we move toward pleasure and away from pain. When we feel good however, the pain of fear arises and suggests we could lose what we have.
Since most people believe external circumstances determine how they feel, they believe if they can control external circumstances they can control how they feel. If they were free to do what they want when they want; if I were free to do what I want when I want; then I will be happy.
Our solution to the mistake of believing we don’t control how we feel; we don’t have personal power; is to control what’s out there. If I gain control of external circumstances: stuff, people, the environment – everything out there; I can control how I feel and I can be happy.
Control, power will get me out of the hole I’ve dug. That’s what we believe. Getting control over others is the answer.
In your mind’s eye – create an image. Envision that pleasure-pain continuum as a line; on the right is pleasure; on the left pain. Now add another dimension to your image. Create an equilateral triangle. On the base is the pleasure-pain continuum and on the peak of your triangle is power.
To break the tension between pleasure and pain all I need is power; then, then I can control how I feel.
Seeking power becomes our paramount concern.
Most people believe gaining power they lack will solve their problems.
They forget or deny they already possess personal power – all the power they need. And that they are free to do what they want if they are willing to bear the burden of responsibility.
This denial is an unfortunate circumstance for us all.
The truth is you control how you feel. You already possess personal power – your ability to think. Most people aren’t willing to accept that.
If I have power; then I am responsible – that is too great a burden to bear.
Most people want to control circumstances, people and things; most want something for nothing; freedom without responsibility.
We forfeit personal power to pursue, as if our lives depend on it, control over others.
Let’s go back to our image – that image of a triangle in your mind; pleasure and pain on the base; power at the peak.
We want to feel pleasure; feel good, and we want to avoid pain, and through all our struggles we believe the way to get control of this entire process – to once and for all control how we feel – is by controlling everything out there. The challenge is however, there is no such thing as something for nothing; everything has a cost.
Think of your image. If you abandon the pleasure-pain continuum; leave the base and move toward power – you give up something. You have no choice. We rationalize, this is an essential, temporary, acceptable trade-off; a necessary evil. We rationalize that once we have power, we have absolute control over whether we feel pleasure or pain. But the truth is we put ourselves on a treadmill. We constantly struggle through an endless cycle; moving from power to pleasure to pain over and over again.
Remember, the truth is, before you got sidetracked in your quest for control you already had personal power.
We are here to express life. We are here not for “me” – at least not me alone. We are here for “we” – us together; all of us; and all that is. We are here to express more life.
We get caught in our own struggle to be happy. And to be happy we believe we need more control; control over what’s out there.
We focus on the wrong thing. Happiness is not the ultimate objective; a prize to seize. Happiness is a by-product of something else. You’ve got the power. We’ve all got power. We just need to use our power appropriately.
But we get so far off track. How far? We look at that in our next session.