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 Blooming Stars

Who Am I

            Who are we? How free are we? Do we experience the freedom that God and nature intended us to have? These questions haunted me for a long time. These questions haunt me still after living and working in the world’s two greatest democracies: India and the USA. Who am I? relates to my identity. How free am I? relates to my freedom – the most distinctive characteristic of a human being. They are essentially and inseparably inter-connected. From my experience and clinical practice I have come to the conclusion that we are heavily programmed and conditioned from birth by our parents, relatives, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, society and culture, advertisements and commercials. The more programmed we are the less free we are. While the formation of a conscience based on universal moral and ethical principles is essential, we rarely pause to look at those pervasive and pernicious forces that diminish, eat into like termites, and even destroy our freedom. In a way we are all like the elephant in a circus that is trained to perform by a trainer and his/her whip. Does the elephant know that it can toss the trainer with the whip and create havoc? Of course we do not need to create havoc, but we may need to throw out many of our shackles including trainers/leaders.

            I am reminded of a story in a book by a great story-teller, Anthony de Mello. A farmer living at the edge of a forest went for a walk one day and found a lion cub. He brought it home and started raising it with his sheep. After a year or so the cub became a full-grown lion, but ate, bleated, and behaved in every respect like a sheep. One day a lion showed up, and all the sheep including the lion-sheep ran for life. The lion caught up with the lion-sheep that asked for mercy. The lion tried to convince the lion-sheep about its true identity. But the lion-sheep would not go for it. Finally the lion took the lion-sheep to the edge of a pond, and asked it to look into the water when the lion-sheep gave out a big roar. At that moment the lion-sheep became aware of its true identity. Most of us are not aware of our true identity. If we were we would not be behaving the way we do. We would be letting go of many fetters and baggage that immobilize us.

            Any person desiring to live a full life fulfilling the destiny that God has placed in that person needs to look at anything and everything that is thought, spoken, or done. This means we are required to live a conscious and conscientious life free of fear and guilt. Socrates, a great seer, said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Mahatma Gandhi was censored and ostracized by his community for crossing the ocean and going abroad. Many customs and practices of the recent past, for example, on the basis of race, caste, creed, and sex were utterly immoral, evil, and inhuman. Yet they were sanctioned or condoned by most of the so-called religious and spiritual leaders of the time. Would someone, for instance, who is going to betray Christ, be given Holy Communion in a church today? Certainly not. But Christ not only gave communion to Judas, one of his 12 chosen disciples but also told him to go and do what he had planned. God permits human beings even to reject God. Why do we humans who are called to be God-like take away from other humans the very freedom that God has given? Each one of us is unique, and each one of us has a unique role to play in this world. Nobody is big or nobody is small as a human being. We are all one in the One. The greatest thing that a human being can do is to live a life of true identity, freedom, and awareness wherein none is abused or diminished, and everyone is respected, enhanced, loved, and cared for.


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