We were not born with the persistent negative, selfdoubting, selflimiting thoughts and feelings most of us carry around. Those limitations are not part of our "original equipment." In the words of bestselling author and beloved teacher Guy Finley, "When you realize no else on this earth can be like you... that no other soul may know the beauty, sorrow, light and darkness you alone are given to see, then you will no longer want to be like anyone else on this earth. You will, at last, be the fearless individual you heart of hearts has called you to be."
There is a world of wisdom in this small gem of a book. Guy Finley is a master at opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to the plain and simple truths of this life. We are not our sense of inadequacy, our compulsions, our defeated thoughts and feelings. We can choose the fearless path because we were, in fact, born fearless.
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About the Author
Guy Finley is the bestselling author of The Secret of Letting Go, Let Go and Live in the Now, and 35 other works that have sold over a million copies in 18 languages worldwide. He has spent the last 30 years showing individuals the authentic path to a higher life filled with happiness, success, and true love. Finley lives and teaches in Merlin, Oregon where he is Executive Director of nonprofit Life of Learning Foundation.
Read an Excerpt
The Courage to Be Free
Discover Your Original Fearless Self
By Guy Finley
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2010 Guy Finley
All rights reserved.
Uncover the Treasure of Your True Self
Every saint, sage, and wise man or woman from every timeless tradition—East or West, past or present—has a special message for you:
You have been left a great inheritance.
A treasure chest of spiritual gifts awaits you; you need only claim it for your own. But this is no ordinary treasure; within this great chest lie others—chest within chest within chest—each one holding a prize that increases the value of the one before it! But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We'll talk about what's in the other chests once we've examined the contents of the main one.
Here's what awaits you in the first great chest:
Your birthright to be free.
Let's pause to consider the magnitude of this gift, keeping in mind how often we step, unaware, into the small prison cell of some self-compromising thought or feeling.
One thing we already know is that worry, doubt, resentment, and fear—whatever their shape or form—hold captive anyone unwary enough to fall into their web of woe. But your reclaimed birthright authorizes you to be as naturally free of these negative states as it is for you to be full of "grace under fire," regardless of how dire circumstances may seem. And there's more.
Yours is also the right to effortlessly recognize and release anger and frustration, to be able to see them for exactly what they are—false powers disguised as helpful guides in times of duress. And taking their place—as flowers replace weeds in a well-cared-for garden—are new powers of kindness, patience, and love. These characteristics are born of a living light that gently sweeps away whatever remains within you to oppose your liberation.
And what about the remainder of your yet-to-be-opened chests—the ones holding the rest of your inheritance?
Well ... I don't want to spoil it for you. But in these unlocked treasure boxes, you'll find the rest of the new spiritual knowledge you'll need to reclaim the rights belonging to your original Self. Here's a partial list of these remaining gifts:
1. Unshakable faith in the goodness of life.
2. Perfect confidence that all things are fair and just, in spite of temporary appearances.
3. An effortless relationship with an order of reality whose timeless ground is the nature of success itself.
So now, let's actually open the first of your spiritual treasure chests. It's time to start gathering the facts we need to reclaim our lost legacy of freedom. We begin with a short story, a parable as full of surprises as it is with ways to prove this promise:
You have the right to walk through this life without any fear of what may await you ahead.
Shatter These False Beliefs and Be Free
Once upon a time, there was a wise old owl whose name was Solomon. As was true for the rest of his kind around the world, his duty was to take daily flights over the countryside where he lived in order to watch over the well-being of all the creatures residing there. Part of his responsibility, when needed, was to mediate the conflict that sometimes appeared between the various species and restore the balance of nature's harmony as soon as possible. Although the quarreling parties didn't always embrace Solomon's wisdom right away, they all knew that anyone who had the power to see into and through the darkness was someone worth listening to in times of confusion and conflict.
Now it happened that, early one fine September morning, Solomon was flying low over a particular valley that he hadn't visited for some time. From his elevated vantage point he could see that the colorful finger of autumn had already touched many of the treetops, and that the salmon were swimming upstream, returning home to spawn. Soon the riverbank feasting of the bears would begin, which also meant the gathering of eagles, crows, and the occasional ever-squawking gull. He took in a deep breath of the cool air, grateful to be alive and thankful for the deep silence of the open skies.
Solomon loved this part of the country. The dark green valley floor sat at the foot of a great mountain. Runoff from its snow-capped peak fed the river and streams that meandered through the forest and open fields beneath it. Flying high above the harmony of this world below, everything seemed in place and at peace. But just as he was about to bank his wings and fly a little farther south, something caught his eye that he couldn't quite make out and that made no sense at first glance. Making a slight adjustment to his course with a small turn of his head, he came back around for another look. He couldn't believe his eyes!
Walking along in a single file line, like soldiers on parade in a marching drill, were five great golden eagles. Now this behavior was not all that unusual in itself, and might not even have caught Solomon's eye, were it not for one strange and otherwise inexplicable fact. All five of the eagles were wearing crash helmets, eye goggles, and raincoats!
"What on earth?" thought Solomon to himself, as he circled lower to confirm what his unblinking eyes couldn't believe. But sure enough, it was true; not only was each of them wearing what he thought he saw the first time, but slung over their wings were some kind of small flight bags! And so, in a nearly silent landing, Solomon set himself down directly in front of the parading eagles, greeting them with these few words: "Hello friends ... how are all of you doing today?"
After a moment or two of awkward silence, the lead eagle spoke for the rest of them: "Thank you for asking, old owl; everything's fine as it can be." And, as the other eagles bobbed their heads in agreement, he continued. "To what do we owe this visit, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Not at all," said Solomon. "To tell you the truth, it's been a couple of months since I passed through this part of the country, so I was just doing a little flyby when I happened to look down and see the five of you walking along with all of this ... gear." He intended the pause at the end of his last comment to act as a question, hoping it would evoke an explanation for their strange behavior, but no such luck. All that followed was another short stretch of strained silence. Solomon decided on a more direct approach....
"Look, friends, far be it from me to interfere in your lives, but I couldn't help noticing something strange going on here." Then, speaking in a deliberately softer voice—so that they understood he wasn't challenging them in any way—he finished his thought.
"Aside from the fact that you're all walking where you're going, which—you must admit—is unusual given how easily you could just fly there ... don't you think it's a little odd that you're all wearing flight gear, not to mention carrying bags as well?" Solomon opened his already large eyes even wider in an attempt to show his genuine concern for their situation, but no one seemed to notice, so he just asked straight out:
"Anyone care to let me know what's going on here?"
Making no attempt to disguise the irritation in his voice, the third eagle in line stepped forward to speak out. "What do you mean, 'what's going on here?' Isn't it obvious?" But before Solomon had a chance to answer, the fourth eagle chimed in with an edge to her voice as pointed as her yellow beak. "We're on our way to our favorite riverbank to scavenge what's there, and to catch whatever else we need. That's where we're going, if you must know!"
"So let me see if I understand this," said Solomon, using one of his broad wings in a sweeping motion to gesture at their equipment. "Wearing and carrying all this gear, you intend to walk over a mile to your favorite fishing spot? Is that what you're telling me?"
"What ... are you deaf and blind, old owl?" the lead eagle snapped back, making it clear the conversation was over. "Leave us be!" Now, from his earlier encounters with them, Solomon knew that the true character of golden eagles was to hold equal amounts of patience and power—it came with their natural birthright to soar freely through open skies. So this intolerance of his friendly questions, coupled with their odd new possessions, told him two things for sure: Something had gone terribly wrong somewhere, and his task was clear. He must discover what had so compromised these magnificent creatures.
A moment later, Solomon spread his great wings and, lifting himself silently into the air, left only these last words behind him: "If you care to wait here for me, I'll be right back! Otherwise," he continued, " ... don't worry; I'll find you, wherever you are." The five eagles looked briefly back and forth at one another, sharing an unspoken question: What on earth is this old owl up to? A heartbeat later, as if on cue, they took their respective places back in line and started walking again toward their favorite fishing spot.
As Solomon took off, his thoughts flew with him. Someone or something had successfully acted to take away the eagles' freedom without them even knowing it! So he knew that his first task would be to solve this mystery, and then to help them see the truth of their sad situation. But where to begin his search?
As he climbed higher into the bright afternoon skies, his thoughts became clearer. Instead of wondering who or what might be to blame, he began asking himself why anyone would want to deliberately steal an eagle's natural right to flight? And then it hit him.
He banked hard to the right, heading south to a small, secluded section of the forest glen where he knew the crows of that valley loved to gather and carry on. As he approached their meeting place, he slipped into stealth mode and landed, unnoticed, near the top of a distant tree. Even at this distance, he could hear everything the crows were caw-caw-cawing about, and by the arrogant tone of their voices his earlier intuition was confirmed.
It wasn't that Solomon didn't like crows, because long experience had taught him that every creature, regardless of character, serves a vital role in the beautiful unseen balancing act of life. It's just that crows were not his favorite creatures, given their penchant to profit from the work of others, and to otherwise steal whatever they couldn't win for themselves through their wily ways.
After listening to them for a few more moments, his initial suspicions were confirmed; he had the answers he sought. The crows were busy fighting among themselves for bragging rights over which of them was most responsible for having grounded the eagles! And then, the sound of a particular voice cut through the rest, catching Solomon's attention. He recognized it immediately. It belonged to Lucius, the self-proclaimed "King" of the crows and chief mischief-maker for more than 16 miles around.
"I have to say that, if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes, I never would've believed it," said Lucius. "Whoever would've thought the great eagles could be tricked so easily?"
"What do you mean who could have imagined it?" cried one of the crows, hopping from branch to branch in an adjacent tree. "It was my idea, or don't you remember?" He paused just long enough to look from left to right, silently challenging anyone there to contradict his claim. "Yeah, that's right," he continued. "I told all of you that, once we convinced them that they really needed those special goggles to protect their sensitive eyes, getting them to believe they needed the rest of the gear would be a snap!"
"Blah, blah, blah," interrupted one of the larger crows perched about three branches below Lucius and his entourage. "Let's give credit where credit is due, or is this all about just you?" But he didn't wait for anyone else to chime in. He added, "Selling them the idea that they needed raincoats to keep their flight feathers dry—that was my idea. And throwing in the matching crash helmets," he continued to congratulate himself, "pure genius!"
But just then, yet another crow called out, eclipsing his moment in the sun. "Yeah, right. Sure they looked stupid enough in all that unnecessary gear, but aren't we forgetting the most important thing of all? They were still in the air. Day in and day out, they were still beating us to the best spots to scavenge for fish. So let's give credit where credit is due! They weren't really grounded until I convinced them they needed a shoulder bag to carry around their catch of the day."
He paused in his self-praise just long enough to look up and see that Lucius wasn't at all amused with his version of the story. And so, without missing a beat, the very next words out his mouth—as though they were what he had been leading up to all along—came as follows: "And of course, our victory over the eagles wouldn't have been complete without great King Lucius. It was his pivotal role that—finally cooked their goose!"
The crowd erupted in a spontaneous chorus of "cawcaws" at his play on words. While he waited for the laughter to die down, he was relieved to see the King was laughing too, so he kept going.
"Realizing that the eagles were no longer able to fly their usual overhead routes to our favored scavenging and fishing spots, our leader crafted an idea so clever that it will be spoken of for ages to come!"
Of course, everyone gathered there already knew exactly what had happened, but they cheered him on anyway. "Tell us, tell us!" chanted the crows in unison.
"Because of the extra weight they were now carrying, they were already walking instead of flying; but our great King knew exactly how to ground the eagles for good. So he had us convince them that, to find their way to the river and streams, they'd need to have with them, at all times, a special map. Then we told them that, out of his deep concern for their well-being, our wise King had just written the very book they required: Eagles Walking Guide to the Best Fishing Grounds.
With this, all the crows let loose, and the glen so echoed with the sound of cheers, clucks, and caws that the King had to demand their immediate silence.
"Quiet!" he said, sternly. "Keep your voices down! Right now, somewhere in this valley, the eagles are actually thanking us for what we've done to them. But if they ever catch on, if they ever discover our deception ... it is we who are through!" He took a deep breath in order to enlarge his appearance, and then finished his thought:
"Yes, we've tricked them into surrendering their liberty, and that's good for us. But let's not fool ourselves. If we want to keep all that we've gained over these last few precious months, we must not let them learn the truth. Otherwise, we'll never be able to fool them again in the same way." Solomon had heard enough! He understood why humans called such gatherings a "murder of crows." But now he had the facts he needed, and he felt certain that once the eagles learned the truth, their liberation was sure to follow. He deliberated for another moment, and then spoke out, revealing his presence to all of the crows.
"While it's clear to me why you have acted in this cruel and cunning manner, how can you believe that your plan will stand? This deception will be over soon, and with it will go your temporary rule over the eagles of this valley."
Solomon slowly turned his great feather-crowned head almost completely around, taking in all the faces of the dumbstruck crows. And no one knew, when he spoke, whether it was the sound of his voice or the dead silence into which he spoke that made his parting words carry for miles: "I leave you to yourselves, even as I fly to tell the eagles exactly what I have learned here this day. So, be warned. You have my promise. The truth I bring them will set them free!"
And the last thing Solomon heard as he flew out of sight was the sound of the thirty crows crying out in one collective, murderous tone: "They'll never believe you. They'll never believe you!"
Recover Your Original Fearless Self
When Solomon had left the band of eagles, they were walking in the direction of a river all the creatures called "the Big Easy," but it took him nearly an hour of scouting the area before he found them again. As he dropped down to land on the sandy bank next to where he had spied them from high above, he could hardly believe his own eyes and ears!
All five eagles were engaged in a loud, talon-slashing squabble over the meager skeletal remains of a bearshredded salmon. Solomon knew that, as a rule, eagles never fight with each other over what amounts to table scraps. Seeing them in this degraded condition nearly broke his heart—and may have clouded his judgment as well! Ignoring the injuries that could come from interfering with such infighting, he charged directly into their midst.
"Stop it! Just stop it!" he commanded them. And whether it was the authority in his voice, or the sheer audacity it took to step between them in the heat of their battle, they obeyed. But as shock gave way to angry disbelief that this old owl was meddling in their affairs again, they formed a circle around him and began closing ranks, hissing and lifting their wings in gestures of threat. But Solomon did not back down; in fact, he stepped forward. Taken by surprise, the eagles stopped in their tracks. For a moment, the advantage was his and he acted on it.
"Wake up!" he implored them, "For heaven's sake ... Snap out of it!"
But, a scant moment later, as the eagles started moving in on him again, Solomon rebuked them even more forcefully. "Look at yourselves. Look at what you're doing here—to yourselves. Can't you see what's become of you?"
Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free by Guy Finley. Copyright © 2010 Guy Finley. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I: Let Go and Regain Your Freedom
Chapter 1. Uncover the Treasure of Your True Self
Chapter 2. Shatter These False Beliefs and Be Free
Chapter 3. Recover Your Original Fearless Self
Chapter 4. The Freedom to Change Your Experience of Life
Part II: Principles of Courage: Reclaim Your Right to Be Free
Chapter 5. Keys to Taking Command of Your Life
Chapter 6. Act on What You Know Is True
Chapter 7. Start Seeing the Good When Things Look Bad
Chapter 8. Finding Forgiveness for Those Who Hurt You
Chapter 9. Never Feel Sorry for Yourself
Chapter 10. Let Go and Flow with Real Life
Chapter 11. Being Friends with Truth
Chapter 12. Step Out of the Rush and Into Relaxed Living
Chapter 13. Break Out of Any Rut
Chapter 14. Practice Living in the Presence Moment
Chapter 15. Have the Courage to Change
What People are Saying About This
"A gift from a master teacher, filled page after page with insights that will help calm your anxieties, allay your fears, and help you live a more present, precious life. I highly recommend this book." -Daniel G. Amen, MD, author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body