Another Tracey has said exaclty the right thing on this subject:

There is a Zen story:

Two monks are walking along a forest path. They come to a muddy stream where a beautiful woman is unable to cross because she will soil her clothes. To the astonishment of the younger monk, the older one puts the woman on his back and carries her across the stream.

Later, when they reach their destination, the younger monk says, "We are Zen monks. We are sworn to avoid earthly attachments and involvements, especially women. But you picked up that woman and carried her across the stream!"

The other monk replied: "I left her on the river bank. But you have been carrying her with you all day."

She continues:

I will speak of this in personal terms, but I observe this every day in other people. It is, as far as I can see, a "universal experience".

If something is an issue in my life, I live in relationship to that issue. If I am a recovered alcoholic, even though I do not drink I still invest a fraction of my identity in my alcoholism. If I am lazy, but I force myself to work hard because I recognise that I am lazy, I am still living life as a lazy person. I have no freedom to just sit around and enjoy myself without thinking that I'm "lazy".

In order for me to be *free*, I have to come to terms with my laziness. (In psychoanality practice, to see its roots, in Buddhist practice, to come to know it clearly, but to learn not to identify with it.) To come to terms with it, I must scrutinize it closely, I must explore it, and experience it, and live with it intensely. And then it has the possibility of truly losing its power.

The older monk was free. The younger monk was just avoiding women. He had no freedom.

A big area where I have had no freedom is in "connectedness" and "autonomy". For various reasons I have always felt that I needed to be unique and autonomous. But since I *needed* this, I had no freedom. My self-concept imprisoned me as securely as it would if I felt that I had to conform.

I have discovered that if I can move through my need to be unique, I can become connected, or more accurately realize that I am deeply connected and there is nothing I can do about it. So I might as well just be connected (but not in a detailed, tactical way, all the time) and have the satisfaction of being connected.

And at the same time I become free of my compulsive, conditioned need for autonomy, thus making me truly autonomous. I have become more autonomous about autonomy!


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