Two Simple Steps Toward Authentic Freedom


“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.” ~ Buddha

This quote, attributed to the Buddha, holds the two keys toward achieving authentic freedom. In this article we will break down these two components, while creatively analyzing how and why they always work as long as they are followed.

buddha-freedom1) Starting

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

If, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it” then it behooves us to be bold with our dreams and aspirations. Not starting is only dreaming. Starting is acting on the dream.

Whatever the dream is: painting a self-portrait, traveling the world, living off the land for six months, it doesn’t matter, begin it. Discover the genius, the power, and the magic in it.

Wanting our lives to be more fulfilling and complete and magical without acting on it is like a wannabe novelist always talking about writing a novel but never actually writing anything down. Not getting started is just a cartoon in the brain. Actually starting is emancipating the cartoon, becoming an aspect of the cosmic-joke rather than the butt-end of it.


What if one day you wake up and you’re an old man or woman and you think to yourself, “Why didn’t I live the creative life I dreamed of? Why didn’t I write my memoirs? Why didn’t I travel the world? Why didn’t I paint more? Why didn’t I grow a garden instead of a lawn? Why didn’t I cliff-dive from the cliffs at Rick’s Café in Jamaica?”

The answer will more than likely be that you were afraid, or you didn’t have enough money, or you weren’t in shape, or you were too busy working, or you were worried about being perfect and never got around to simply being human. Don’t let this happen to you.

It will be heartbreaking. It breaks my heart everyday seeing people stuck in dead-end jobs, slaving away for money that never seems to be enough to live a fulfilling life. Hint: it will never be enough. Don’t wait for perfection. Don’t wait for “enough money.”

Life was meant to be lived now. Live it, for Christ’s sake! Quit people-pleasing and stringing yourself out on the illusion of perfection. Get out there and live the way you want to live, the status quo be damned. Like Rita Mae Brown said, “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”

“The important thing,” said French critic Charles Du Bos “is to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”

Take baby steps if need be. Just begin the journey. Begin right now. What’s stopping you? Take inventory of your plethora of excuses and then toss them out the window. Defenestrate the shit out of anything and everything that’s preventing you from being the most full-frontal juicy creative version of yourself possible.

The first step will be the most difficult, enormously difficult in fact. All your doubts will come crashing down on you like the weight of God. Push him off. Shed the parochial. Kill every Buddha you see on the path. The steps will get easier and easier the more you liberate yourself from what’s been restricting you.

2) Going all the way

“Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them, or to see things differently – until you have given the whole world its freedom – you’ll never have your freedom” ~ Adyashanti

It’s not just that we’re on a journey; it’s that weare the Journey. We are not simply the bridge from animal to Overman, like Nietzsche would say; we are the “passage” itself. The glue that binds finitude with infinity is the man torn between being both an animal and a god. We are the tearing.

We are the passage. We are the walking personification of Flux. There is more to being human than choice, there’s vicissitude. The sooner we embrace these truths, the sooner we’ll be able to live the life we’ve dreamed of living.

clock This means we need to keep moving. This means breaking through mental paradigms like a wrecking ball breaks through brick and mortar. This means stretching comfort zones like a trickster god stretches Truth.

This means tricking ourselves out of whatever current condition has us conditioned to think that it’s the “only way.” We need such upheavals in order to individuate the ego and self-actualize the soul. Spiritual sophistication comes from constantly disrupting the current state.

Like Rumi wrote, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will you become polished?”

“The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming,” writes Barbara Deangelis, “is where the dance of life really takes place.”

The dance of life is right now. Not a few seconds ago. Not sometime in the future. Right now! The question is: are you dancing or are you stagnating. Are you alive or just another member of the walking dead? I assure you, Somnambulant meandering does not become you. Don’t have conviction, have gumption.

Indeed, as Nietzsche once said, “Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.”

Wake up! Smell the roses! They are the hearts bursting from the chest of every person who’s awake and living their dream. Get a good whiff, because that could be you. It should be you. It needs to be all of us, especially now.

Like Eco-theologian Thomas Berry wrote, “We will go into the future as a single sacred community, or we will all perish in the desert.”


Going only so far, and not going all the way, is like only reading one book and then thinking you know all that needs to be known. Not going all the way is like living in one place and thinking you know the way the world works.

Going all the way means the more you know the more you realize how much you don’t know. Going all the way means becoming the journey itself and realizing that it can never end unless you end it. The journey is indeed the thing.

Keep going. Keep challenging yourself. Accept that there is no destination. The more we move, the more we become intimate with all things. Sidestep even God if he gets in your way, especially if he’s prepackaged. Keep the wind in your hair and the fire at your back.

Lick your wounds from time to time, but keep going. Go with a full heart that has been sharpened by the experience of stretching comfort zones, shattering mental paradigms, and flattening status quo boxes, and I assure you that a life well-lived shall not elude you. Godspeed!

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Do not give up
Keep going

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.


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