5 I cried out to You, O LORD:
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
6 Attend to my cry,
For I am brought very low;
Deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are stronger than I.
7 Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.”
“Those who are engrossed in falsities, more so those steeped in evils, are called 'the bound" and 'in prison', not because they are held in any physical bonds but because they are not in freedom; for people who are not in freedom are inwardly in bonds. Indeed once they subscribe to falsity they no longer have any freedom to choose or receive what is true; and those who subscribe heavily to it do not have any freedom even to see it, let alone acknowledge it and believe it, because they are quite convinced that what is false is true and what is true is false. That conviction is so powerful in them that it removes all freedom to think anything different, an
d is so strong that it holds their actual thought in bonds, in prison so to speak.” Secrets of Heaven n.5096
There is a man in a state prison that writes to me, and he often amazes me. He describes in clear detail what he does to remain free. He was enslaved by evil long before society meted out punishment for his crime. And now, when he remembers himself – which he must do almost daily – he rises above the false ideas and evil delights that threaten to persecute him, and he is free.
I know a 50 year old woman who fears old age. She has watched her grandparents and her parents grow old and suffer the loss of abilities, then lose the enjoyment of life, and finally lose life itself. And now she recognizes the signs of the same losses in her own body and mind. Her energy is dwindling. Her reflexes are slowing. Her memory and attention span are not as good as they were ten years ago. Her work is all routine. Her avocation is becoming a burden. She is about to retire and move, and for no reason but that she is getting old. She is discovering that she is imprisoned by lies about life. One lie is that there is no value or reality to the present moment in and of itself, regardless of the circumstances. She senses an evil force manipulating her through this lies, convincing her that only physical youth is good, and that old age bad because death ends life.
I recently read the story of Dan Millman who was incredibly successful in gymnastics. He was judged the best in the world at the 1968 Olypmics. He writes of how he discovered the prison that his point of view about himself and the world created to enclose his spirit. It was wonderful that he didn’t have to lose his life of gymnastics, but he went through many trials to discover exactly what he did have to lose in order to find a way to use his talents to make a better world for himself and others.
I am told that a person can crave food in unhealthy quantities and qualities, so that eating is an attempt to serve a deep need for satisfaction. Actually the need is never met, and the obsession, if not curbed, leads to death. Such a person is enslaved by the falsity that a particular food can be of service to a spiritual need. When it doesn’t satisfy, the person eats more, continuing to believe the lie. The person can actually believe that a certain behavior, bad for them yesterday, will not be bad for them this time. The same falsity is involved in all addictions.
So how does a person so enslaved break out of such a pervasive prison? It is the process of spiritual growth, which begins with the realization that it will take a miracle to be freed. The process begins when I realize that it is my own knowledge and thinking from it that is the source of my pain, darkness, obsession and limitation. I then realize that I have to give it all up, that my beliefs and thought processes and the behaviors they produce must be replaced. The Lord’s preparations for my freeing then become active. Memories of long past delights in good are stirred. Ideas, circumstances and people (many of which were there all along) suddenly appear and are attractive. It is of note that the book and movie “The Secret” is based on this essential truth (although the author doesn’t see the whole picture and goes awry). The Lord’s design is that as I realize I need His miracle of healing, precisely because I feel lost, condemned and beyond His reach, there is created in my mind a glimmer of hope, and a strategy or two to be adopted. A tender, small and fragile sense of freedom arises in my heart.
“But nobody can have this freedom except one who is governed by good; for it is by virtue of good that he is in heaven and by virtue of good that truths are seen there.” And so the process continues with successes and failures to live up to the new sight of truth. Little by little, the good of heaven replaces the “good” the addict, the materialist, or the hedonist had before. More and more the person sees the evil of those delights, and identifies and rejects the falsities that propped them up.
Unbeknownst to the person, the Lord’s processes continue to operate to replace old, evil delights with new good ones. This happens automatically as the person acts on new true ideas, which then are receptors of and clothing for inner goodness. Without knowing how, the desire and inclination to act on the old falsities is gone! A new freedom is experienced.
This is the journey. There are traps, pitfalls, and dead ends. But as one perseveres and trusts in the Lord, there are successes. And we come to know for ourselves and in our life that “You shall deal bountifully with me.” (Psalm 142:7)
Precursor September 2007