If you’ve ever watched the movie A Few Good Men, you’ll probably remember the courtroom drama between the fierce General Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson) and the lazy lieutenant and defense lawyer Kaffee (played by Tom Cruise). In a heated exchange, Kaffee demands to know the truth. After a slight pause and with a furious look on his face, Jack Nicholson’s character forcefully shouts back, “You can’t handle the truth!”
When I found myself in a spiritual crisis, shortly after I moved to California, I had to be willing to admit to myself that I was not free. I had influence among my peers around the world. I was a success in my field, and I had the money I needed for comfort, but inside I was not free.
For any genuine seeker, the question of whether our spirituality brings us freedom is embryonic. What good is our spirituality if it doesn’t improve our lives and the world as a whole?
Good relationships, more money, being well-known, or having a lot of influence are all valid and worthwhile pursuits. Good relationships are essential for wellbeing. Money is a necessary tool for living. Influence and notoriety will often come when your gifts and talents are unleashed. But finding meaning in your existence doesn’t begin with those desires. When birthed in anything less than unconditional love, these aspirations put you in a cage because what your soul really seeks is freedom.
While most of us are not surrounded by an inescapable cage, many of us find ourselves trapped in our heads, held hostage to negative and even toxic thoughts. We are not free. To make matters worse, we don’t even realize that we are not free.
There’s something magical about the word freedom. Democracies are built on it, advertisers love it, and our teenage children insist on it. To live free is the dream of the bullied, troubled, upset, anxious, and suffering. It’s the hope of every living being. When I think of freedom, my mind drifts to a children’s tale about a colorless tiger held captive in a zoo…