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Inner Freedom?

January 15, 2010

A well-known teacher was giving a talk one day on the meaning of inner freedom. The meeting hall was packed and everyone was listening with the utmost respect and attention.

About twenty minutes into the talk, a woman he had personally invited, someone he had met recently and to whom he was very attracted, got up hurriedly from her seat and left the room. As the teacher continued speaking, in the back of his mind he wondered why she left. “Perhaps she had to go to the restroom,” he thought to himself. When she still hadn’t returned after another ten minutes or so, he began to wonder if she simply didn’t like what he was saying. He checked back in his mind and tried to remember what he had been talking about when she left, but he couldn’t remember, which disturbed him even more. As he continued speaking he became more and more inwardly agitated that she had left, so much so in fact that he began to check around the room to see how others were responding to what he was saying. As he did so, he saw that people were becoming restless and didn’t seem to be listening very well. In fact, a few more people also left.

By the time he finished speaking and was on his way home, he was very upset–upset with his friend for leaving, upset with himself for having somehow driven her away, and especially upset that he was so upset. He was so upset in fact that he missed a stop sign, almost hit a pedestrian, and was stopped and given a ticket by a policewoman who had been following unseen behind him. “What a crazy day!” he thought to himself.

The next day, as he was drinking tea and struggling with feeling sorry for himself in the café where they had first met, the woman who had left the talk entered and saw him sitting at the table. Before he could say anything, she came up to him, gave him a sweet kiss, and said, “I’m so sorry I had to leave your talk early, but I had to meet my boss before she left town on a business trip and I forgot to tell you I’d be leaving early. But I’m glad I finally got to hear you speak. You were great! How did the rest of the talk go?”

“It went very well,” he replied without blinking an eye. Though he found himself unable to tell her what had really happened, he did have a sudden realization as he was speaking with her of the pervasive nature of what Gurdjieff called “inner considering” and just how difficult inner freedom really is and how much work was still necessary for him. He also experienced deep appreciation for his friend, for her unexpected action, in helping to make this realization possible.

Copyright 2009-10 by Dennis Lewis

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