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Finding Freedom in the New Year

I have been contemplating suffering recently, prompted by my 13-year-old son expressing poignant feelings about the world’s suffering. As if by answer, in our local Border’s Bookstore’s going out of business sale, I found a Krishnamurti book on the nature of suffering titled, “Freedom From the Known.”

In this book, Krishnamurti, a spiritual teacher from the last century, suggests that as long as we give our authority away regarding our own experience, we will suffer. When we judge our experience according to what society and culture deem as “good” or “pleasurable” or “bad” or “distasteful,” we create a gap between ourselves and our experience. This gap, he suggests, creates suffering.

On the other hand, great freedom can be found in accepting what is, and going into that experience with keen self-awareness, even awareness of our own judgment.

This is a great perspective to go into the new year with. We all want to have grand and beautiful experiences, and yet we all know that between such experiences are the mundane, the painful, all the experiences that we deem “negative.”

What if we were to take each experience that comes and go into it, examining our own reactions and judgments, accepting all of it as simply “what is”? We may think of this as a passive way of being, but on the contrary it’s highly active.

To react out of conditioning to circumstances is the most passive way of being. We experience pleasure, and we are happy. We experience something that reminds us of an old wound, and we suffer. To widen the lens of our awareness and witness our own reactions, we see the twisted reality that our cultural conditioning can create in us!

Krishnamurti suggests that this freedom is not developed over time, but is instantaneous. Either you react, or you widen the lens and you go into your experience with an awareness of all that is happening, and if there is judgment, that is part of your experience. As the witness to your own myriad of feelings and reactions, you become fully engaged and free within your own experience.

The only way to see if this perspective is valid to try it! I have been practicing something similar for several years, after encountering a Buddhist practice of noticing. I can see how my own internal suffering over one small matter or another is quickly alleviated by simply looking at myself suffering. “Oh, look! It is Cynthia, feeling low.” Yet the freedom Krishnamurti suggests took some time –it was not instantaneous.

Recently, I realized that if I notice, and at the same time breathe into my heart with the intention of simply shifting my heart feeling from pain to neutral, or even to pleasure, that this shift can happen in a matter of seconds. It was a surprising discovery!

I invite you to try. There is something to lose! Maybe you lose “the known” of your experience and find something completely new.

Wishing you a New Year of freedom from what is known!