last year

On Being Human And True Freedom

Do you ever feel stretched thin? Pushed to your limits? Do you ever feel as though you might lose your shit? Break down?

Good. Then we’re both human.

Maybe we can drop all the superhuman ideas for a moment and meet here. In our humanity. In our common experience.

For a lot of my life I sincerely believed that life should exalt me. I thought that life was all about me.

That was a lot of pressure. And painful.

Then I was afraid to be humble. To be human.

And all the spiritual pursuits were to become superhuman – to get rid of the “base human experience” – the intensity, the discomfort, the uncertainty, the fear.

Life has showed me a different way, however. It is not always easy. It is not always fun. It doesn’t always feel good. And it doesn’t often look the way I thought my life should look.

It’s messy. It’s challenging. It pushes me to my limits.

Then beyond my limits.

Revealing what has no limits. Revealing what was all along.

And paradoxically, in this, the human is allowed. This sometimes challenged, frustrated, discouraged human. With shortcomings.

So much of so-called spirituality appears to have as its aim the end of the human. The ultimate escape.

But if we tell the truth, isn’t that just another carrot dangling in front of us, promising us that really, truly, somewhere in the future, some day, we might finally escape the human?

My question: why bother?

That’s not real freedom. That’s really just suffering by another name.

Real freedom welcomes it all. Including the pain, the difficulty, the fear.

On this blog I’ve played with different ways of sharing the intimacy of what it is to be fully human and also fully awake to what it is that is always here, allowing the human, allowing the emotion, allowing the birds to sing, allowing the crocodiles to eat the zebras.

Sometimes I’ve erred too much on the side of not sharing enough personal stuff and leaving it all too theoretical sounding. Other times I’ve erred too much on the side of too much personal stuff without enough context to help shine a light on the greater picture that I’m attempting to shine a light on.

What I have always *wanted* to do successfully is to communicate that true freedom doesn’t have conditions. It doesn’t require that you behave a particular way. It doesn’t require that you speak a particular way. It doesn’t require a particular understanding.

And I attempt to communicate that through sharing of my life, my experience.

So let me try again.

My life is full (as is yours…it is completely full of life). And that includes the “good” as well as the “bad”.

The freedom that I communicate about is unconditional. It doesn’t depend on the “bad” going away.

I have three young children who we homeschool. That’s not easy. For me, it involves a great deal of humility. I am humbled many times every day when my children don’t behave in the way I think they “should”. Their “unwanted” behavior triggers all kinds of conditioning in me – anger, frustration, sadness.

I have long-standing health challenges. I’ve struggled with mysterious illness that waxes and wanes for a long, long time. And when symptoms are intense, that’s challenging.

I don’t always behave well. I am sometimes reactive.

I have fears based in old programming of lack – not enough time, not enough money, not enough love, not enough…

All of this is allowed.

Not because I am allowing it. I don’t have that power. I’m not superhuman. All I can do is give up my imagined superhuman powers and receive the gift of life as it is now.

It is in this that I recognize the ever-present power that allows it all always, unconditionally.

This ever-present power that allows it all always unconditionally is here now. It is nearer than my next breath. And there is no boundary that I can find between me and it.

There is only this in direct experience.

But that doesn’t get rid of thought, feeling, sensation, emotion, memory, or any of the feelings that the mindbody has come to conceive of as “me”.

This is true freedom.

Effortless freedom. Already already given.

And to discover this, all that is necessary, is to stop looking for something else.

The challenge is that we’re all so strongly conditioned to look for something else, we don’t even know how to stop! We don’t even know what stopping is.

Which is why there is a paradox with self inquiry.

The paradox is that with self inquiry the recognition that occurs is instantaneous and complete (there is only ever freedom), but the momentum of the habit of looking for something else – consulting theĀ  mind of solutions to all its invented problems – typically continues. So we may stop, look, and recognize for an instant right now that there is boundless aliveness here as our most intimate experience of ourselves. But then a second later, we may be concerning ourselves with all our imagined problems.

This seems like an obstacle at first. But through repeated inquiry, it may become clearer that all the habits of seeking, conditioned mind are equally allowed in the spaciousness of being.

So if you’re looking for a quick fix technique to change how you feel, to change your state…self inquiry isn’t it. But if you’re interested in seeing the false as false and thus recognizing the light of awareness that illuminates all unconditionally, self inquiry is powerful. It just takes persistent looking (and the support of those who can point clearly over and over for as long as it takes).


Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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