(The following is a preview of Chapter 8 of the recently released The Conscious Resistance Trilogy by Derrick Broze and John Vibes. To read the full chapter pick up a copy of the trilogy!)
This essay features personal anecdotes from Derrick. We offer his experiences as a way of highlighting the role that solitude can play in spiritual growth.
“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.” – Marcus Aurelius
“No man is free who is not master of himself.” –Epictetus
When I contemplate the idea of freedom, the notion that human beings can possess critical thinking skills and a sense of self-determination and compassion for their fellow humans, a number of questions run through my head. What does it take for one to be free? What are the necessities for freedom? In what ways do our unique ideas of freedom differ from one another? In what ways do we create artificial boundaries for ourselves?
We must consider all of these questions to truly understand what freedom means and how to achieve it. While there is not one single road that leads to freedom, our individual experiences provide us with insights that serve as helpful hints, tips, and guidance for our brothers and sisters on their individual paths. It is with that in mind that I offer some of my perspectives with the hope that we may learn from each other.
I want to focus on the need for occasional solitary sessions, or extended solo journeys. My experience with solitude has led to deep personal insights and a better understanding of my doubts, fears, and insecurities. The idea behind the conscious resistance is to create a population that encourages self-knowledge, individuality, compassion, awareness, and solutions. I believe that until we choose to know ourselves and our motivations and aspirations, we will continue to be ruled over by a small group of people who are not working on behalf of the best interests of the whole. In fact, if this “resistance” were to spread, that same small group of people might even have a powerful spiritual experience that could lead to an understanding of their place in the whole and a restoration of balance.
Twice in my life the universe provided me with opportunities for reflection and meditation, each vastly different from the other. The first involved my incarceration for possession of a controlled substance in 2005. I was less than a month from turning 21 and had been battling addictions to a variety of drugs for the better part of three years. At that point, the substance wreaking havoc in my life was crystal methamphetamine. Despite my current beliefs that people should not be arrested and caged for victimless crimes such as drug use, I now know that my drug use at that particular time was an effort to escape and self-medicate my depression and general lack of understanding of the world.
Upon my arrest and imprisonment, I resisted the environment and fought like hell to maintain a connection to the “free world.” Eventually, however, I had to accept that I was going to spend the next 18 months behind bars. There was not a family member, friend, or lawyer who could do anything for me. The only choice was to sit, be with myself, and take moments to consider how I found myself in that predicament. I spent the next year and a half writing pages and pages of notes, stream of consciousness rants and ideas on how to take my life in a better direction. A family member began sending me Buddhist literature, and I started to meditate. This was the beginning of a major life change for me. The steps I took in those days have directly led to my present space.
While I wrote mountains of manifestations, I began to notice my handwriting becoming slower, more precise. As my thoughts slowed down and reflection became the norm, my physical world started to reflect the internal changes. Learning to meditate in an environment filled with false ego and posturing was not an easy task. I persisted and found many moments of peace despite being physically caged.
In the years following my incarceration, I struggled to stay connected to that feeling of pure being, of truly existing in the moment and accepting that I could not control the outside world. The best I could do was to work on my spirit. When I would slip, I’d pick myself back up. Eventually, I found myself released from parole and creating a new life with a new passion for knowledge and community.
In 2011, I decided to complete my journey and celebrate my newfound sense of freedom by taking a cross-country bicycle tour. I had long been plotting an adventure that would give me the ultimate sense of a restriction-free lifestyle and the wonder that comes with the open road. I took my bike, some books, and some supplies and traveled across Texas and into New Mexico. For three months I camped, rode, and volunteered on farms.
It was during this time that I once again found myself humbled by the lessons that came my way.