Morning Coffee Meditations
Living Outside of All the Boxes
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking…” ~ Leo Tolstoy
I have always considered myself a freethinker. But sometimes I think that that is only in comparison to the rules that we have been given by society to live by. When you see the limitations of a system, you naturally start to look elsewhere for new answers… and on some level, I have defined this as freethinking.
But I’ve realized that even within that idea, we can get locked into the new ideas that we come across and now they become our own personal law. We create a new set of structures to live by. We have jumped out of “their” box only to have created a new one that we are now stuck in.
This brings me to my next bit of advice from our friend Leo Tolstoy:
“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
Oh to just know nothing. The funny thing about this is that it is our language isn’t quite accurate. It is like the concept of zen. Zen literally means “nothingness”. It doesn’t mean “nothing”. It means “nothingness”.
Zen is the space of infinite possibilities. It is the empty room that can become anything. It is the empty mind that can be filled with inspiration. It is an open future where our path may take a hundred different directions.
It is living without a box… and this concept of zen applies beautifully to being a freethinker.
When we are faced with an idea from a controlling faction (this alone is a strange concept when you really think about it), if what they say sounds right, then we can accept it as truth. If it doesn’t, then we can do research to find what does feel right. This could be things we were taught in school, from our parents, the church, the government, our doctor, our spouse… anyone who is presenting an idea that is not supposed to be discussed or argued about.
So, we do our research to find what rings as truth. Now, what do we do with it? Do we use that information to create another box to jump into? Or do we let our research cancel out the untruth and then get on with our lives?
We are then returned to a wonderful zero point of “nothingness”.
I like that.
I think that there are times, though, that we do need to create a new box in order to escape another. I remember when I was first married, I really struggled with my husband’s family’s church. I didn’t agree with what they were teaching and so listening to the minister each week just about drove me crazy.
I already had my own ideas about spirituality and religion before we got together… but I felt obliged to attend church with him. It was so integral in his family and community, I didn’t know how to not be a part of it.
So, I just fortified my box. I made my box so airtight, whatever they said that I didn’t believe in couldn’t get to me.
Then, I discovered a Quaker community. The first time we went to Quaker meeting, I instantly started talking about my box. I had a hundred arguments about organized religion and felt like I had to defend myself right from the get-go. Luckily, Quakers tend to be super chill people, so they just quietly listened to me and let me get it all out. Soon, I realized that I didn’t have to do this. There was no battle here. Every person got to experience God in whatever way felt right.
I didn’t need my box. I could just let it go.
As we settled into meeting, which is just silent prayer, I was finally able to have a new experience. I was able to just listen within, connect, and not have to argue with anyone.
So, maybe as long as our society has all kinds of strange boxes that we are supposed to be living in, we will have to create some temporary ones in order to do the research, fortify our box, and escape. Maybe the process of creating the boxes is what gives us the strength to let them go.
And every time we let that box go, we are stronger, clearer, and completely free to see what’s coming next… in a beautiful state of nothingness.