Michael Doud - Writer & Film Reviewer
"Love is real. Everything else is an illusion. Live in this realm and be at peace."
Synopsis of Falling Into Freedom
In the winter of 1989, on a windy cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it hit me. I was deeply unhappy and had been for my entire 38 years. Looking down at the churning sea, I considered ending my life right there. My only other option was to change it, completely. Falling Into Freedom is the story of the crazy adventures that began after I stepped back from the cliff and set out in search of the wisdom that would set me free.
My first act after I chose life over death was to throw away my old life. Downsized out of my job, I quit looking for a new one; sold my home; and lived for a time in my car. Freed from physical distractions, I reflected on my strict upbringing by salt-of-the-earth parents; my flirtation with academic disaster in high school; my impulsive decision to escape my perceived worthless life by joining the Army; my devastation after killing human beings in Vietnam; my fall into drug addiction to numb my pain, and the agony of going cold-turkey in a little hut assisted by a wise old woman.
My search began by participating and leading personal growth seminars testing my relationship to fear. One exercise was a hands-free escape after being pinned down by a five-foot bamboo pole pressed across my neck by two strong men. Witnessing my will to live, I journeyed into an obscure bookstore and found books that taught me about how to look inwards for more answers. With this gained wisdom and a daily meditation practice, I learned how to forgive myself for killing; to not identify “self” through physical and mental attributes; to understand my attachment to possessions and personal identifiers like a job title; to let go of my attachments and aversions to everything; and to accept life as it is, not as I interpret it to be.
The journey leads to an old monastery in England. There, three months of sitting in silence allowed me to lift the veil of illusion and see the world, and life, as it is.