True freedom is freedom from the past.
Yes, of course, bonds imposed upon you from the present outside of you also exist. Of course, you would rather be free to express yourself and to be where you want to be and when and how and never in the slightest have to hide how you are and your real thoughts. Hiding yourself is the same as being imprisoned.
At the same time, even if you have supreme freedom in the world, so long as you are tied up in the past, you are not free. You have the past looking over your shoulder, telling you what to do and how to be. In the grip of the past, you are not free. You are an obedient soldier who automatically reacts. He salutes. He follows orders. The past is a supervisor who does not brook any disobedience. What once was still is until you free yourself from the past. You do indeed have a past.
This is not the first time you have heard that you do not react to what is happening now but rather are responding to what once was. You may well not consciously know what you are reacting to. You think it is someone or something in your present that you are reacting to. Truly, if you were free, you would react differently. You would see and feel differently. When something adverse is happening, it seems like it is happening before your very eyes, yet you are programmed, and you act from the unseen, perhaps unremembered past. It is not such a good thing to be on automatic, for you are encumbered.
The past has fostered what seems like an instinct in you, and that is to respond in a habitual manner. You may well not be aware that someone today reminds you of someone in the past who was unkind to you when you were young and defenseless, and now you are on guard.
Beloveds, why would you be on guard unless something from the past made you so? What would you have to defend had you not been deeply affected in the past? Today, something in the past sets you off.
The bulls in bullfights are stirred to fighting because of the color red or because of the twirling of the cape. From something, the bull seems to have no choice but to fight. He cannot see that he could simply walk away and not see anything at all to fight about. Whether you are the timid mouse or wild tiger, it could be said that you were trained to be so and you simply haven’t been able to let go and love first. You may have spent your whole life reacting and have been unable to initiate, so ingrained in the past you are.
You could say that it is good to be on automatic when it comes to courtesy. There is something to be said for that, yet how freeing it would be to naturally respond with courtesy or, it could be said, to welcome whoever and whatever may be before you now. It is truly freeing to smile in the present, not as a defense and not as a habit, but from joy inside right now.
I am not telling you anything new.
Yes, how wonderful it would be if you could react to what is simply before you. How lovely it would be if you could let go of all wounds, the ones you remember and the ones you don’t, and come forth unwounded and unscarred. Without woundedness, you would unwind. Tension would leave. You would be as fresh as a spring day. You would still remember what you remember of your past, and yet you would be free from it. You would be free.