The 77% Weekly

The 40/52 weeks-a-year, spiritual-religious newsletter 

08/40 From Rabbi Brian

Freedom (from false boundaries)
 

(This is article 1 out of 5 on the topic of freedom. Springtime is a traditionally a spiritual-religious season to reflect on limits and the freedoms from them.)  

 

The 1st century Roman poet Virgil wrote Possunt quia posse videntur – which means, “They can because they think they can.”

 

I want to look at the opposite – the self-imposed, yet non-existent boundaries that keep us from doing the things that we could do if only we just didn’t think otherwise.

 

It’s fear that keeps a friend of mine at a job that he hates, complete with a sub-par salary and an atrocious commute. He doesn’t believe that he deserves better.  

 

It’s a sense that she just shouldn’t shine and be splendid that keeps another friend from shining and being splendid.

 

Why is this? Why do we limit ourselves so much?

 

The best explanation I know of is that of basic conditioning:  

 

Think about a dog wearing a shock collar that activates whenever it walks past a certain boundary. Basic conditioning teaches it to stop walking past that point – and after some time, you can remove the shock-collar and the dog still won’t venture pass where it had learned not to go.

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer is the founder of Religion-Outside-The-Box.

Shortly after he was ordained as a rabbi, he left mainstream congregational life to encourage people to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding) through podcasts, books, tweets, and internet-based seminars.  

His day job is teaching advanced mathematics to Los Angeleno High School students. The rest of the time is with his family. 

The next rabbibrian.com Meaningful Talk on a Topic that Matters will be on 3/17/12. 


The topic will be:
GOD

The same is true with people – with you and me.

 

At some point in our lives, it seems someone zapped us and we internalized the notion that we shouldn’t go there or do that. We learned to live inside a certain safety zone and not to venture outside the box.

 

We got conditioned – even without the external authority figure telling us that it was wrong-to limit ourselves.

 

I internalized the message that I shouldn’t relax and let others take care of me. (I’m not certain about the particulars of how I learned this, I just know that I did.) But taking care of others is not my job. As real as that restriction feels, it’s not real. I can relax and myself be taken care of.

 

Similarly, I mis-learned that I shouldn’t express my anger and that I shouldn’t be straightforwardly honest if it might upset someone.  I’ve un-learned that one pretty well and now can healthily express my frustrations.

 

What I’m proposing is that we recognize that some of the very “real” boundaries in our lives actually aren’t really real at all.

 

What I’m proposing is some faith to try to free ourselves from our perceived limitations.

 

Perhaps you aren’t as limited as you think!

 

Of course there is gravity and the government has laws . . . but outside of those and the aforementioned conditioning, what is much stopping you from doing what or being who you want to be?

True freedom, philosophers teach, is God.  

 

For the rest of us, we must learn to recognize our self-imposed limitations and be brave enough to venture out beyond where we thought we were safe.

 

You are safe.

 

As the late 16th century philosopher and priest Giordano Bruno said before he was burned at the stake as a heretic, “Out of this universe you cannot fall.”

 

Or, in other words, the universe or God – if you imagine a notion of an external deity –  isn’t going to treat you the way that your parents might have when you violated a boundary. In fact, neither the universe nor God want you to be limited at all.

 

Spiritual-religious advice: reflect on the limitations you have set for yourself and consider setting yourself free.

With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian 

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