Learning to Unlearn On the 4th of July
To establish our own identity we need family and group identities, along with customs and laws to establish boundaries. As adults some of these rules learned as a child are no longer necessary, yet we can feel morally obliged to still observe them. This 4th of July those suffering from such old legal obligations can find liberation in the words of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, “We had to obey the old rules so we could know how to disobey them correctly.”
His Holiness lifts the oppressive burden of old laws by encouraging disobeying them—correctly. The first rule to properly disobey any old law is that your actions do not bring harm to you or to others. Yet, even if done correctly, to disobey an ingrained prohibitive law can be very difficult. Psychologists state it is harder to stop observing a law that forbids than one that grants permission. The reality of this principle was shown some forty years ago when the Catholic Church removed its law forbidding the eating of meat on Fridays. Some older—and also very conservative Catholics—found not to refrain from eating meat on Fridays painfully difficult, if not impossible. I would suspect other faith denominations that no longer forbid drinking alcohol and gambling have met a similar reaction.
Have a “Happy 4th of July”—and do this by examining what laws, addictions, habits or fears restrict your freedom, and then have a revolution to overthrow them! Mindful that they may be problematic religious laws, I close with a good prayer to God by the saintly 13th century Sufi Persian mystic, Rumi:
“Stones rush to dance before the
laughing beauty of your face.
Return from hiding once more
and play like fire on my fickle senses
so I may learn to unlearn.…”