This title might be confusing to the reader. Could such different aspects of the human nature share the same roots?. I am intending with this post to prove that this is the case.
If we unveiled such roots, then the questions would be: could we use that knowledge in a practical way?, could we get cured from anger and lack of freedom with the same pill?.
I invite the reader to follow next reflections and find out how I address the previous matters by introducing what I call “freedom meditation”.
Fig.1 Anger and freedom, two sides of the same coin
WHAT SAVED YOU ONCE CAN KILL YOU A HUNDRED TIMES
Raised in fear
I was raised in fear of anything slightly different from the orthodox way to understand life. I suppose that when people live in fear they need to teach their children how dangerous the world is and how to keep themselves from the dangers lying in wait in the darkness.
My parents brought me up like that, teaching me to make always the most conservative decisions to keep safe and sound. Thinking back to that time, I think that probably that approach saved me from falling in drugs, like it happened to a lot of my school mates. My neighbourhood was full of temptations in that direction. I think fear of giving a chance to the devil kept me safe then.
However, I was in fear of everything, so what saved me then was a heavy load for a long period of my life. I had to fight against my complexes for many years until being able to go beyond the limits and explore the reality surrounding me.
I would say that fear saved me once, but it played against me for a series of years until I was able to get rid of it. This is what I mean by “what saved you once can kill you a hundred times”. If we keep resorting to the same thing, being useful once in the past, we will experiment the defeat over and over, since different problems need of different solutions. Fear cannot be a mantra to be stuck to, it makes us so weak that we get incapable of facing a lot of situations in life.
Fig.2 Raised in fear
Running away from fire
Imagine one person trying to find the exit of a room in fire when the smoke keeps him from seeing anything. If that person does not remember the emergency exit location he/she will have to make a quick decision, to choose a random direction and start running for his/her life. Imagine that he/she chooses the right direction. That person could be tented to resort to random decisions later in his/her life, feeling confident that she/he has a sort of sixth sense to escape from danger.
This thought experiment is only a metaphor for how we tend to get stick to strategies and schemes that were useful for us in the past and how we tend to consider them as absolute references of anchors in our lives. This approach is not only incorrect but also really dangerous. Even if a strategy was successful in the past, it has surely a specific application scope. The real danger is to consider our schemes absolute, independent from any new problem scope.
Fig.3 Running from fire
IN SEARH OF THE ROOTS OF ANGER
Let’s follow our friend Fred during one of his typical Monday mornings. Fred is an imaginary character, but I am sure the reader will be able to identify a friend or a relative with Fred.
Fred has one son and one daughter, being 16 and 14 years old respectively. Every morning is a fight for Fred, he thinks that his wife goes usually to bed very late at night and she is not energetic enough in the mornings as to make the “kids” get ready early in order to get to the high school on time. He has never got late to work, because he always gets up really early and usually gets to the office the first in his department. He always checks the traffic news before leaving home and chooses the best way according to that information. Being punctual is a dogma for him, a principle. That is why he gets angry with his son and daughter because they do not mind being late on a daily basis. They have not inherited his main principle, and that is something that Fred cannot neither understand nor bear. He cannot understand either why his wife is so permissive with them.
Anyway, we have Fred now driving his car to the office. He gets angry at the sight of some road works in his neighbourhood. These works should have been got finished long time ago. He does not understand why it is taking so long.
Once in the office, alone in his department, he starts reviewing a report that another department has delivered. He gets angry when he realizes that they did not follow Fred’s suggestions from the latest meeting. Fred considers that the report, as usual, clearly leaves room for improvement.
During the rest of the day Fred gets angry with his boss, his workmates, the sun, birds and once back home again with his son, daughter and wife.
Tuesday, back to start again, Fred keeps being angry all day, all week, all his life.
Fig.4 What are the roots of anger?
What is the matter with Fred?
Can you tell the reason why Fred is angry all the time?. It is simple, the external world does not react according to his schemes and opinions. He thinks he is right, and so he gets angry when others behave wrongly.
What could we derived from the previous conclusion?. Again, it is simple, Fred thinks his schemes are absolute. For him things are not relative, they do not depend on circumstances, and there is no room for diversity.
Therefore, I dare to state that anger (in all its degrees) are closely related to a set of absolute believes. People living in anger got stuck to their absolute schemes long time ago and they do not accept to review them, to get feedback from others, and what is worse, everybody else should behave according to the same set of believes.
When, obviously, other people behave according to their own schemes, Fred gets really angry. I am sure you know someone angry with the world in general, I know at least a couple of them. We know their illness now: Fred’s disease.
Fig.5 Fred’s disease
How does Fred’s disease originate?
I have already given the clues for the origin of anger. Since anger is an outcome of a set of absolute believes, we should search why people get stuck to certain schemes and they give them for granted for the rest of their lives. Do you remember how I was raised in fear?, do you remember the person running away from fire?. In my opinion that is the key, when certain schemes were useful for you in the past or you derive some conclusions based on a few events in your lives (what have no statistical validity), and you confirm that those schemes are right and unique over and over, you eventually become Fred.
I talked about the danger of having a static view of reality in a couple of previous post: “Reality is a complex object (I) and (II)”.
I first start by distinguishing between physical and mind freedom. Obviously the type of freedom I am addressing here is that dealing with the mind constraints rather than with the physical ones. So, if someone is reading this from prison, I am so sorry, this post will not do for what you are looking for. In any case, the absence of mind freedom becomes an absence of physical freedom too. Hence, to some extent I will be also talking about physical freedom, when it is a consequence of our internal limitations.
Fig 6 Freedom
But, what is freedom?. For me, it is to keep a wide mentality capable of going beyond external constraints. What are these external constraints?, they are not more than widely accepted schemes that most of people follow. In many cases certain social patterns are imposed due to a massive following and they seem to be a non-written law. Escaping from strong external patterns, or constraints, is like to go against the trend. Somehow we all are subject to external constraints undermining our freedom. If we have accepted all that series of external constraints we cannot make free decisions, since such patterns will be weighting a lot in our decision-making.
Therefore, freedom for me is the non-acceptance of external patterns or constraints even if they are widely accepted. This change in our mindset will lead us to move from acting according to external expectations to act according to your own schemes (those not imposed). Easy to say but not that easy to be applied, right?. Follow my reasoning and you will see that it requires some effort but the prize deserves it.
Why do we lie?
I find at least a couple of reasons why we lie. One of them is to take advantage from our lie in order to get something in return. It will be the type of lie to trick or cheat others, trying to get an advantage. The second one is less negative, since it is not aimed at getting an advantage over others, but rather aimed at making ourselves fit an accepted pattern. We lie to be seen following the accepted trend. If your father in law asks you how you spent a friend of yours’ stag night, you will say that you went to the theatre to see a Shakespeare play. Even if you both, you and your father in law, know that you actually went to a strip show, you will lie in order to fit the accepted schemes.
Hence, the lack of freedom leads to a false society in which people need to either lie or behave as externally expected. We have got a society with a mixture of liars and slaves.
RELEASE YOURSELF AND GET RID OF YOUR ANGER WITH THE SAME PILL
If anger is caused by getting stuck to your own absolute schemes and expecting others to follow them; and the lack of freedom is caused by getting yourself stuck to external absolute schemes, do you not think that we are onto something big?. Do you not think that the root of both, anger and lack of freedom, is the assumption that first, reality is something absolute and second, given that it is absolute everybody must follow the same patterns?. The only difference between anger and lack of freedom is the direction in which this reasoning flows. For the former you define the schemes and expect others to follow them, however for the latter you accept the schemes defined by others. In both cases you believe in the absolute nature of reality, and that is the real root of anger and lack of freedom, the belief in an absolute reality.
So, by changing the way in which you look at reality you will stop being angry with the world and know the real freedom at the same time.
Fig.7 Releasing others and yourself with the same pill
A process in two steps: stop expecting and then stop being expected
I think a nice way to walk the path is by splitting the process into two phases. Firstly you need to transform your mind to release others from your schemes. It is a way to stop expecting others to follow your way.
The second phase will be even sweeter, since once you have “granted” others their freedom, it is your turn to grant yourself yours. Indeed, once you stop expecting from others, you do not get angry with anybody and you blame nobody, then and only then, you will have won your right to behave according to your own schemes and not to other’s expectations. If you have granted everybody else’s freedom nobody will have any claim on yours. You need to be fair, you cannot release from others if you have not released everybody first.
We could summary by saying that you need to stop expecting and then to stop being expected.
You may well ask “yes, I agree, but how on earth I will be able to transform my view on reality overnight?”. My answer would be, “well, I did not say that it is possible overnight, but it is possible with some daily work”.
The technique is a sort of mind yoga in which you will basically need to be a bit more conscious of your automatic thoughts and feelings. It is a meditation or observation of your spontaneous thoughts during your day to day life in order to detect those thoughts related to binding others to your schemes.
For example, if Fred were practising this meditation he could get aware of thoughts like “I cannot bear my wife not getting angry with the kids for not getting up earlier”, “these road works should have been got finished one month ago”, “the other department did not assume my suggestions to improve their performance”, “this report is rubbish”, etc. Basically all those thoughts are judgments based on Fred’s schemes. If Fred wanted to put freedom meditation into practice he would need to create a mantra or visualization to counteract each judgement. That is to say, each time one of these judgements comes up spontaneously on Fred’s mind he should say internally something such as “I have not the right to judge others according to my personal believes”. It is only an example, Fred could use any mantra working for him. The other alternative would be not to verbalize anything but to visualize something like the judgment being diluted in the air.
The reader can play with verbalised mantras and/or visualizations indicating to your internal self that you disagree with those judgments coming up on your mind. Judgments will start getting weaker and weaker over time. As they get weaker, the external overreactions against others will get weaker as well, until you will eventually release everybody from your schemes and leave them applicable only to yourself.
Once you have succeeded in releasing others from your schemes you will not expect anything from anybody anymore. People surrounding you will start perceiving you in a different way.
The second stage of the meditation will start by making up a similar mantra or visualization for releasing yourself from others’ schemes. The process is exactly the same, each time you are aware that you have a thought like “I should do this because my wife/husband/mother/boss/… expects that from me” you should destroy such though with your mantra or visualization. You will be able to weaken your “slave” thoughts progressively until you will eventually be able to get rid of them. As it happened during the first stage, you will start not only thinking in a different manner, but acting in a different way as well. You will be winning your freedom progressively until you will be acting only based on your personal schemes instead of on other’s expectations.
Fig.8 Becoming aware of your internal sphere by practising freedom meditation
The basis of this meditation is to reach a higher consciousness of your internal thoughts, what is not easy during our busy days. The trick is not to be focusing only on the external things but also on how your automatic thoughts react to those external things. It is like to enclose both, external things and internal thoughts, into your consciousness sphere.
I cheer you up to throw yourself into this meditation, since I am sure you will get a far higher level of relaxation and freedom in your life. I wish you the best with your practice.
Before saying goodbye I would like to share with you something about the environment in which I have been writing this post. Funk music in the ImaginaFunk festival (1), in Torres, Jaen (2) has been a special soundtrack in my mind while I organised these ideas for you. During this festival I am glad to say that I discovered a great singer, Myles Sanko (3), not very well know yet, but with the foundations of a music star. I am pretty sure he will become something big in the next future. I leave a drop here for you.
In addition, I would also like to mention that I was walking around Cádiz (4) a few days later, reflecting about freedom, when I came across a bar named “Freedom street”, just a sign of being reflecting in the right direction. Of course, I could not avoid walking in and order a beer.
Fig.9 Freedom street bar in Cádiz
See you soon.