“Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free”- The Shawshank Redemption
Escaping The Matrix
“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”- Benjamin Franklin
F-R-E-E-D-O-M…ahhh…just say it out loud to yourself…just by saying it you feel an exhilarating feeling of boundlessness. This has to be the most beautiful word in any language.
Freedom is the central theme around the movie“The Shawshank Redemption”, it Is a classic film filled with wisdom and universal messages that almost everyone can relate to. I want to show what we can all learn from the movie because while most of us may not be locked up in prison, many of us are living in a prison that we are not aware of. If you are not aware that you are in a prison you will not bother in trying to escape. You may not be physically imprisoned, but psychologically we are prisoners of our minds.
Physical freedom is only one aspect of freedom, this is freedom “from”. Freedom “from” could be financial freedom, being free from a job, this is what most people associate freedom to, but this is not real freedom. It’s a start, it gives a glimpse of whats possible. This is why people who win the lottery remain unfulfilled, they are still not free of their own prison. Inner freedom cannot be given to you by anyone or any amount of money.
“To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom”- Andre Gide
Freedom “from” is still dependent on external circumstances. You need from “for”, this is psychological inner freedom. This is having a mind free of its conditioning, free from its own limitations. Freedom “for” is the ability to respond to life without having the past or future interfere in your actions. Freedom from your incessant inner chattering. Having freedom “from” and freedom “for”, now this is ultimate freedom.
The Plot:“The film portrays the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife (wrongfully sentenced). During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis “Red” Redding and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.” – Wikipedia.org
The Essential Wisdom of The Shawshank Redemption
- Provide service to others without expecting anything in return: Andy was a very smart person, but he was not arrogant towards others who where not on his level intellectually. He took the time to teach and empower others. He received great fulfillment in seeing one his students get his GED from prison. Serving others and being a part of their growth is one of the greatest forms of fulfillment that you can experience.
- Hope + hard work + baby steps + commitment = Freedom: Andy ultimately escapes the Shashank prison because it started with a little hope. One night In his prison cell a small part of the wall chipped off, this was the little spark of hope he needed. He then proceeds to dig a hole for the next 20+ years of his life, behind the poster of a beautiful woman.
Hope: Think of the times you felt truly great, truly free, this is your hope that you know other states of “being” are possible.
Hard work: study yourself all the time, study great books, practice yoga, meditate, and find a school or group of like minded people you can work with.
Baby steps: If you work hard enough and have a definite aim, you will create experiences for you to know that your work is paying off. If your work is real and meaningful you will change the way you feel, you will change your state of “being”.
Commitment: You need to commit, you can’t work for one month, then take a month off. If you are not ready to commit don’t even start because then you may create even more problems for yourself. You may even lose faith in certain methods and close yourself off from them in the future.
When I first played around with meditation in my teenage years “I did not get it” my efforts where partial and infrequent. What I thought mediation was, was me only “thinking” I was meditating, which was not meditating at all, just a superficial feeling of calmness was as far as I got.
It would be years until I finally understood what the great teachers meant in having a “timeless mind”. It took years to get through my layers of conditioning and previous ideas I had about meditation, until I finally got my first taste of going beyond my inner chattering. This is a journey that only continues to grow into deeper states of meditation. If I would have not stayed committed I would have never known what is possible, it was inconceivable.
- You can always be creative and continue learning even while in prison: No matter what your circumstances may be, there is always something new to learn. If you learn to become integrated within yourself, you can always find a creative solution to any of your problems.
- Making Genuine Connections: Be open to anyone new you meet, you really never know when you might meet a once in a life time friend and ally.
- Enduring Extreme Pain and Suffering: What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, that’s if you approach things with the right attitude. If you have a definite aim in your life, it will serve as motivation for you to get back on track when you encounter obstacles in your life.
- Life is not fair: Life does not discriminate, there is neither good nor bad in the eyes of the universe, it is up to you on how you decide to approach and live your life.
- Becoming attached to your environment, even if it is a prison: Anything you become attached to will create pain when it changes or is taken away from you. Realize that if you do not have a certain understanding of how you work internally, you will always live a life of attachment. You need to live a life of awareness, so that you do not make unconscious decisions that will then become an attachment and keep you in bondage.
- On Being Institutionalized:
“This is all he knows, In here he is somebody, out there he is nobody…(prison walls) first you hate them, then you get comfortable, then you begin to love them, you depend on them” – Ellis Redding
One of the oldest inmates “Brooks” gets released after spending the majority of his life in prison. Once he has his physical freedom back, he does not know what to do with it. He has forgotten what it means to be outside of the prison walls, he doesn’t know how to function, so he decides to kill himself. This is what happens to many of us, we get comfortable with the familiar, we know we are miserable but at least its something we know.
In his apartment he engraves “Brooks was here”, just like Brooks we all have this fear that we will not be remembered. We want to know that our lives meant something, we want people to acknowledge our existence.
We all want to leave our mark on this planet. The best way to leave your mark is just to find work that is meaningful to you, dedicate yourself to the work, and do it in a selfless way, contributing your work for the betterment of the whole.
- Persistence: While in prison Andy had the desire to make knowledge freely available to the inmates, he wanted to start a prison library, but needed to get funding from the state. He asked the warden if he could write a letter requesting the necessary funds. Andy ends up getting his wish, it just took him six years of writing letters to the state .
“ It only took six years, now I just might write two times a week” – Andy
- Music is Proof that there is god: When one donation to the library provides Andy with the opera “The Marriage of Figaro”, he plays it over the public address system for all the inmates to hear, well-aware of the punishment of solitary confinement he will receive for the brief moment of bliss. For the briefest of moments all the men at Shawshank felt free.In the movie Andy says solitary confinement was worth it because you need music so that you don’t forget there’s a place inside you “they” can’t touch. To know that something exists besides the material world.This is beautiful, meditation if done with earnestness and unshakable determination will give you the experience of this place that no one can touch.This space is being in the essence of that which is really you. Freedom is an inner phenomenon. Beautiful music is a reminder that life is illogical, that we are able to feel a reality that is beyond our minds comprehension.
- Prison Time Is Slow Time:
“A man in prison will do almost anything to keep his mind occupied” – Shawshank Redemption
This is not true of only people who are in jail, but all people who escape with entertainment. In your slow time learn to be with your silence, this is how you will break free from your mind. You will come to understand your mind, you will see all of its negative tendencies. If you stay in your silence long enough you will come to realize that you are not your mind.
You will be able to see that your mind does not function in a logical manner, most of your thoughts are just random, the problem is that when our thoughts bubble up within us, we are always looking for meaning. We try and connect one thought with the next. Our minds crave certainty and always want to understand everything.
When you are able to see that your mind does not function in a linear manner, you will stop trying to control or look for meaning in your random thought process. This leads to a great increase in energy, much energy is wasted in trying to control and suppress our thought process. This will allow you to have enough mental energy to see things as they “are”.
- Having a Timeless Mind:
“You know what Mexicans say about the Pacific? That It has no memory” -Andy
If you are able to experience a mind that has become empty, you will understand what it means to have a timeless mind. Your thoughts create your sense of time, all your thoughts come from memory. Freedom from your mind means freedom from your memory. This is not to say that you no longer use your memory and are in a state of amnesia, but that your memory no longer conditions and influences you in the present.
“It all just comes down to a simple decision…you get busy living or get busy dieing”- The Shawshank Redemption
- All You Need is Pressure and Time:
“Everyman has a breaking point”
Pressure: Freedom is your choice, but you’re going to have to work hard to get it. You have to realize what your main aim in life is, if its to discover real freedom, you are going to have to give everything you got. But first you need to realize that you are living in a prison in the first place, you need to get a glimpse of whats possible. Once you experience what true freedom tastes like, there is no going back, heaven is possible in this life time.
Time: It takes time to change, but true change is instant. Once you re examine your relationship to time, you will see that change can happen this instant. Depending on your own level of being and understanding it may take a long time and a lot of work to get to the point where change can become instantaneous, when you are acting from a “timeless” space.
- Living With Fear:
“I just want to be back to a place where I am not afraid all the time”- Ellis Redding
Fear is the one thing that may be keeping you stuck in your life. You need to understand that only a mind that is free from the past is the only state of mind that is free of fear. Fear can’t exist in a mind that is grounded in the present.
“Some birds aren’t meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright”-Ellis Redding
Life is too short, make sure you realize that freedom is not something to be achieved but something that you need to rediscover. You came into this world free, now its time to spread your wings and reclaim your freedom.
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