Liberation begins within

Life is short. Being mindful of this has a way of shocking us out of our complacency, and the easy sense that we – and everyone we know – will be here forever.

I’m not writing this to be morbid or depressing, just the opposite. I believe that by being mindful of the brevity of life, we can help liberate ourselves from many of our fears.

Fear of death presents itself in many different forms. Not merely physical, we can fear the death of our goals, the death of our dreams, the death of our connections, identity, or place in the world.

This fear can imprison us, causing us to close our minds and our hearts to others. This same fear gives power to those who want to impose rigid and controlling systems. We are often asked to sacrifice our own freedom of thought, our own identity, in exchange for the thoughts and identity imposed on us by others. These thoughts and identities can give us a sense of security and stability, but they are as impermanent as everything else.

Chasing this illusion has consequences. We can see it in the rise of authoritarian leaders around the world, preying upon fear and hate to draw power away from their followers. These leaders take advantage of uncertainty and promise easy solutions, if only we give up our own minds.

This is why we must remain mindful of the shortness of life. The security we feel when we give our internal power to external sources is an illusion – albeit a powerful one. When we pass on from this life, we don’t get to take anything with us. Nobody can promise us eternal security. We can chase the illusion, or we can free ourselves from it.

None of this is easy. Never before has society been so full of distractions, each contributing to our growing disconnection from truth. We rarely get a chance to sit quietly with our thoughts. Over time, our own voice is drowned out by the noise.

But we still have a choice. The next time you feel that you are giving your power to someone or something else, remember that you are more powerful than you think. Remember that your liberation will come from within.

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Photo credit: Jay Joslin (Flickr)

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