Be Free Where You Are

Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king ~Bob Dylan, from Sweetheart like you

free in nature ~d nelson
free in nature ~d nelson

In tribute to my sick Community of Mindful Living friend, Dharma Teacher Bill Menza,
who dedicated much of his life offering meditative healing to those locked-up inside,
please view his lesson about true conditions inside super max prisons. This clip provided listeners of my “Shooting Stars” children’s radio show aΒ realistic, solemnΒ impression. His clear takeaway message to “be free where you are”, whether inside or out, is insightful and moving.

If I had lived a life
of blameless conduct
would past’s thoughts be
fields of endless spring blossoms
un-littered by artillery craters
& unexploded ordnance?

Breathe in air’s precious gift
highlighting gratitude
for others generous kindness.
Even after repeated lashing out
& behaving like a victim
in words & actions,
I was offered patience & forgiveness.

Favorable conditions, indeed
now being aware of precious
sights, sounds, tastes, smells & embrace.
To be, often, free
from self-imposed imprisonment.

Looking deeply I can see myself
in those who are unforgiven.
Having committed actions
against themselves
or against others,
against humanity;
words & action that were
bad or worse.

What are just conditions
for those locked inside?
Continuing stripping them
of humanness with punishment
& solitary confinement?
In my heart I believe
compassionate treatment
guided by healing mercy
is loving rehabilitation
for us all.

Freedom is not given to us by anyone
we have to cultivate it ourselves. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

44 Replies to “Be Free Where You Are”

  1. I enjoyed the video, and agree with the sentiment. No one can give us freedom. We already have it, whether we realize it or not. Thanks for the nice message.

  2. Your poem here was humbling and powerful, David. I loved your description of our past being filled with craters and unexploded ordinance. Like it’s still dangerous to us… And the help we receive despite our pasts. The help we all deserve, but may from time to time think otherwise. The voice of your friend on the video was soothing and sincere. Sending my support for what ails him.

    Reaction to pain that produces reaction to pain is hardly a healing answer. As you say, compassion must be at the root of our solutions to addressing the difficulties of our society’s most troubled individuals… A society to which we all contribute…


  3. Your wisdom and words are always on point, smilecalm. Health and healing to your friend and gratitude for his compassionate work. At least the prisoners on the inside know their true condition. It’s the ones on the outside that need convincing.

    1. seems reasonable that the mind could go there, noellavignola! after all, the clip used toy characters to make the dark prison conditions more accessible for kids of all ages. however, i tried not to smash & abuse them like poor mr. bill πŸ™‚

  4. To me, understanding causes and conditions means that everyone can be loved; everyone can be forgiven and everyone has the chance to begin anew, in this present moment. Thank you David for continuing to remind us of the wisdom of the ages and for introducing me to a man of deep compassion.

  5. What a powerful tribute to you friend and a great lesson for all of us, of any age. May your friend be at ease and regain his strength. This post and video put our “catastrophes” into perspective, such as our shower getting stuck this morning in the on position until the handle was taken apart and reattached to shut it off.

  6. Both disturbing and beautiful, all at once. It seems that our society treats pets better than we treat our prisoners. Many of our prisons have become more of a place of retribution than a place of rehabilitation. And I’ve heard many are privatized to become a business to make a profit…. I don’t understand this. This video and your words as well, David, reminds me how I (with others) can be free or incarcerated, within walls or without. Thank you.

  7. It is people like Bill Menza and those, like you, who share this kind of work, that give me hope. The voice and the words of the video soothed me. I drifted some with eyes closed, so didn’t see all the pictures. Thank you for spreading the hope.

    1. thank you for your kind reflection, JoAnne! I’m glad you found Bill’s words & voice soothing! The images used were rated g, as the words were clear enough. I’m glad we both have some hope πŸ™‚

  8. I’m sorry to hear that your teacher is sick. I hope he recovers soon. I enjoyed the video. It is sobering to think of the conditions that those people are kept in. I hope that your teacher’s wise words bring them the comfort that they must need. I am reminded of a story about a prisoner who thanked his captors because his incarceration gave him the opportunity for liberation through deep reflection and meditation. If only we could all use our self-imposed imprisonments to achieve such a state.

    1. thank you for your kind, reflective words, Sarah! my friend is stable with on-going chemo. Yes, may we all be free of the greed, hatred & delusion incarcerating humanity πŸ™‚

      1. I’m sorry to hear that your friend needs chemo. I had to watch my friend Sally go through chemo. She is free of cancer now though so I wish for the same outcome for your friend.
        With metta for you both. ❀

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