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  • Erika Murphy

Cast All Your Votes for Dancing!

Without freedom, one’s creativity cannot bloom. Right to freedom is pivotal for the progress of any society. And for this, there should be a sense of global responsibility, a feeling of oneness for all beings. ~ H. H. the Dalai Lama


Independence Day is celebrated in the United States with great fanfare: the awe-inspiring displays of fireworks symbolize a love and delight in freedom. From a spiritual perspective, we can consider freedom on two different levels: relative and transcendent. In our relative, everyday lives, living creatures all crave and deserve the supports necessary to thrive and to be free from oppression and violence. Supporting the freedom and upliftment of our communities is one important way to engage spiritual practice. In Eastern traditions this is known as the practice of seva, or offering selfless service to the community. All spiritual traditions engage the idea of offering our time and resources for the sake of others.


However, even when we are free from everyday hardships, our mind is still bound in its state of limitation. The ego mind re/acts out of habit and sees the world through a lens of scarcity and fear, causing suffering for itself and others. Mindfulness and meditation help us to become aware of the sublime, transcendent reality of God: what is known as the soul, Self, or spirit is already completely free, radiating the boundless, unconditional love and compassion that the ego mind craves. This is the freedom embodied and taught by figures such as Jesus, Buddha, the Dalai Lama, as well as countless other saints and sages. With regard to inner freedom, there is only one teaching: the state of freedom is available at all times and places and it is our birthright to know this for ourselves.


The devoted discipline of consistent spiritual practice -- while sometimes resisted by the mind! -- is the key to attaining a complete state of inner freedom. As the ordinary mind becomes immersed in the boundless expansiveness of the divine, it loses its desire to grasp and surrenders to love. May you know and serve freedom in all of its highest forms!


Cast All Your Votes for Dancing


I know the voice of depression

Still calls to you.


I know those habits that can ruin your life

Still send their invitations.


But you are with the Friend now

And look so much stronger.


You can stay that way

And even bloom!


Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions' beautiful laughter.


Keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved

And, my dear,

From the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.


Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins

That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,

But then drag you for days

Like a broken man

Behind a farting camel.


You are with the Friend now.

Learn what actions of yours delight Him,

What actions of yours bring freedom

And Love.


Whenever you say God's name, dear pilgrim,

My ears wish my head was missing

So they could finally kiss each other

And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!


O keep squeezing drops of the Sun

From your prayers and work and music

And from your companions' beautiful laughter


And from the most insignificant movements

Of your own holy body.



Now, sweet one,

Be wise.

Cast all your votes for Dancing!


~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky in I Heard God Laughing

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