Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Live Intentionally, In Freedom

--by Eknath Easwaran (May 22, 2017)

Modern psychology commonly asserts that we cannot enter the unconscious fully aware. The mystic responds, "Oh, yes, you can! I have done it." The journey cannot be adequately described, but I like to think of it as a return from exile. Into those strange and wonderful realms we too can go, to challenge the wild beasts that roam there, search out the castle where old King Ego reigns in our stead, and claim our throne and the vast inner treasure that is rightfully ours. For this is our own land, the one to which we were born. Even if temporarily we endure banishment, even if the kingdom lies in some disorder because of the usurper's misrule, we can return triumphant and set everything right.

But "challenging wild beasts"? It is no exaggeration: I mean the selfish desires and negative feelings that stalk us. How powerful they are! It has always seemed to me a little wishful to say "I think" or "I feel." For the most part, our thoughts think us, our feelings feel us; we do not have much say in the matter. The door of the mind stands open all the time, and these unpleasant mental states can pad in when they will. We can have a drink, pop in a tranquilizer, lose ourselves in a best-seller or a ten-mile run, but after we come back the beasts will still be there, prowling about the threshold.

On the other hand, we can learn to tame these creatures. As meditation deepens, compulsions, cravings, and fits of emotion begin to lose their power to dictate our behavior. We see clearly that choices are possible: we can say yes, or we can say no. It is profoundly liberating. Perhaps, we will not always make the best choices at first, but at least we know there are choices to be made. Then our deftness improves; we begin to live intentionally, to live in freedom.

Excerpt from ‘Meditation’ by Eknath Easwaran, a spiritual teacher and founder of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

Previous Reflections:

On May 20, 2017 david doane wrote:

 By definition, the part of us that we are unaware of is the unconscious.  What I become aware of is no longer unconscious.  I may think of the unconscious as full of nothing but wild beasts and other evil -- Freud called it a seething cauldron, Jung called it the shadow -- but it's all me.  When I was a kid, I was convinced there was a boogeyman that I desperately feared in the attic of our house, and sometimes I could see him through the attic window.  One day I went into the attic, with the protection of my mother of course, and saw that my boogeyman was a dressmaker's form, really harmless and something that had its use.  What we fear as wild beasts are the inner treasures.  The wild beasts are the unknown, and the more I fear and separate them from myself the more they become wild beasts.  As I meet and become aware of what I fear and keep unconscious, I can incorporate in ways that are healthy and constructive.  I never become aware of all of the unconscious any more than I become aware of all of the universe, but the more of me I become aware of the more of me I become, and I gain freedom from compulsions, cravings and fits of emotions that had control because I feared them and lacked awareness.  The only exile I'm in from my unconscious is the exile I (with help from family, cultural and religious conditioning) keep me in.  What helps me live in freedom is ongoingly being open about myself, becoming more aware of myself, owning and becoming more of myself.  My freedom is limited because I never become aware of all of my unconscious and become all of me, but the more of me I become the more freedom I enjoy.

On May 21, 2017 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Choice making is in our hands. We all know that as human we have mead self-and-other hurting choices. In all relationships there is no the other without me. We all are intertwined. When I make a wrong choice, focusing only on my interest, I am going to hurt the other and the other may counteract to hurt me or teach me a lesson. Tooth for tooth and eye for eye becomes a vicious cycle hurting each other on all levels.

So it goes back to choice making. Wrong or crazy choices are made when the mind is buzzing with wrong or crazy thoughts, when we are not awake. All wisdom traditions have emphasized the value of taming the monkey mind, the wandering mind. Meditation is one of the most effective ways of taming our wandering mind, quieting our noisy mind. We need to be  aware of the light or heavy clouds passing through the sky of our mind. We let these clouds come and go without reacting to them or letting ourselves be hijacked by them. I practice mindfulness meditation. "Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We gain immediate access to our own powerful resources for insight, transformation, and healing." Jon Kabat-Zinn. Cultivating such mindfulness skills requires ongoing consistent practice called sadhana. It is an introspective inner work, relating to the world from inside out.

May we cultivate mindfulness to make wise wholesome choices for doing greater good for us and for others.


Jagdish P dave

On May 22, 2017 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

 Having choice or even the illusion of choice can be liberating. It takes some pressure off. We can choose different thoughts. We can choose how we react. How empowering! This happened the other day after a challenging conversation. I reflected on it and realized my part and that I could choose a different response which in the end served the other person better and me too. Here's to the power of choice in our thoughts and our actions!

On May 23, 2017 Bradley Stoll wrote:

 If our thoughts think us and our feelings feel us, do then our choices choose us? This is the thought that first entered into that which I refer to as "my mind." Choice seems to imply control. I just keep trying to feed the good wolf and let everything happen from there.

On May 28, 2017 lenacharles723 wrote:

very intersting article

On May 28, 2017 jenifer vanquez wrote:

Hi , I read  your article  and its true Everyone wants to  live intentionally, to live in freedom.  I completely agreed with you that Choice making is in our hands  . I must  appreciate of your article .I love this  website , they  provide me interesting articles . For more information visit reecoupons.

On May 29, 2017 Arun wrote:

 nice article