I don’t believe that the ego self/personality self has much access to freedom. We make up stories about freedom and pretend that we are free. Freedom, however, is birthed when we get beneath our conditioned selves and are willing to live from a new and unfamiliar place.

One way of looking at freedom is to define it as living one’s life without the fear of death. When we are not afraid of death, we are willing to go for our heart’s desire. What is the worst thing that can happen? We can die. And if we are unafraid of dying, then we are free.

Our culture limits us by teaching us to be afraid. If you don’t eat right, you will die; if you don’t go to the doctor, you will die; if you leave all your belongings and go out on the road, you will die; if you don’t have enough money, you will die. Living with this fear becomes a prison. We all will die, no matter what we do. But the question is, ”Will we live?”

My mother died when I was 13, and I have spent the last 63 years unraveling that puzzle. The story that I have made up is that my mother made a contract with our family. I believe that she contracted to give us the best possible start, love us, give us a good sense of identity, and launch us. When this work was done, she left.

Ultimately, although this was a huge loss, it was also a tremendous gift she gave to each family member. Because of the void she left by her leaving, we were all obliged to forge new paths for ourselves that were previously unimaginable. And the amazing truth is that she didn’t really die. She lived on in each one of us. This began my understanding that death is not what we are told it is.

I had a brother who died at three days old when I was 16 months old. Two weeks later, I went into convulsions, and my parents thought I was going to die, too. The story I made up about this is that I did die. Looking down and seeing my parents grieving, I reluctantly agreed to come back. There is still a place in me that remembers that I left and came back and that my soul continues to come and go through that same portal.

In my spiritual meditations, I have watched things come and go, in and out of form, so fast and ecstatically that I no longer fear the transformation process. It is just how our reality is — constantly changing form, always the same and not the same. This state has become familiar to me. It feels like home.

From that perspective, I can live into the mystery of every day, grateful for the vast range of experiences, lessons, insights, love, and beauty. What a ride!