Hugh Laurie played the role of tormented, but brilliant, medical doctor, Gregory House, on the 8-year television series, House. His character suffered from unrelenting, nearly unbearable physical pain because of a medical misdiagnosis that resulted in part of his leg tissue dying and soon thereafter being cut out while he was in a coma. The ongoing physical pain was a reflection of the emotional pain he carried with him from childhood abuse and abandonment that resulted in mental hardening and spiritual disconnection, as well. He was really a good man, but very few could see his goodness, not even himself.
His pain–on all the levels–drove him to cryptic communication, to thinly veiled passive aggressive interactions–sometimes not so passive–and dark behavior that caused him to live in a self-imposed prison, separating himself from anyone who might have been able to love him. House treated everyone–superiors, as well as those under him, patients, and their families–with equal flagrant disrespect. Despite his often-times sociopathic behavior, his extraordinary abilities allowed him to find causes and cures for illness no one else in the conventional medical system could find.
Apparently, for nearly all of his life, House was able to see through the masks that both people and institutions wore and was unwilling to pretend that the masks were not there, pointing out the hypocrisy with abrasively expressed disdain, a quality that antagonized nearly everyone he encountered, especially those who were committed to maintaining the masks.
For some reason, a few months ago, I decided to record the series I had not seen when it first aired, and I began watching the randomly scattered episodes that pulled me through time and back again, over the lifetime of the series. Because the programs were out of order, it was like watching flashbacks and made the viewing feel like I was putting a puzzle together. An episode I had watched a few weeks before finally make sense when I watched another that was chronologically earlier.
This morning, I woke in the predawn darkness and decided to wait for the warmth of sunrise by watching the episode that had recorded sometime in the night; it had first aired on 10-3-11 and was the first episode of the eighth and last season that began with House in prison. Not until it was finished did I realize how important that episode would be in helping me see my own prison.
For their entire relationship, House’s girlfriend had begged, pleaded, and at times demanded that he express to her his feelings, and he finally did…after she left him. In the end of the final episode of season 7, the very angry doctor had driven his car into the living room of his former girlfriend’s house because she had begun seeing another man. A lifetime of rage exploded into a violent expression of his feelings. He disappeared for a time, was finally arrested, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison for his bad deed. The internally self-imposed prison House had lived in nearly all his life had become an external experience in the 3-dimensional world. His inner reality had created this external experience.
In the episode I watched this morning, House was up for parole, for an early out due to prison overcrowding. He was granted parole if he could keep himself clean for the next 5 days, but would have to fulfill the rest of his sentence should he do anything wrong. As his prison days were dwindling down to a not-so-precious few, fellow prisoners were pushing him to his limits to get what they wanted from him before he left.
With 5 days remaining before his parole was to be granted, House was challenged by the medical system he had been fighting even before he had become a doctor; this time in the form of the prison infirmary. His brilliance convinced him that a fellow prisoner needed a medical procedure to save his life, but the doctors in charge would not do a life-saving intervention because it would be crossing the line and could cost them their licenses for not following protocol, whether or not it would save the inmate’s life.
House did it anyway and was thrown into isolation for the disruption he had caused; he lost his chance of parole and had to spend 8 more months in prison when he had been just days away from becoming free. The last scene of this episode was House sitting on a bed in a stark, desolate cell; the sound of something opening was heard and a meal was shoved through a small opening at floor level. On the tray was a meal and a note from one of the doctors, who had come to believe in House’s abilities, but the doctor was too afraid to break the rules. The camera focused on the note with three simple words, “You were right.” Sitting on his bed, House leaned against the back wall as a nearly indiscernible smile crossed the face of a man who had chosen prison to do what he believed was right, but perhaps, for the briefest of moments he was actually the only one who was free.
When the program ended, the morning had broken, but I had so much on my mind I didn’t want to get up, not yet. Watching House caused me to reflect on my own self-imposed prison experiences. I am aware that like the character, House, I too can see the masks worn by people and institutions, but unlike his default response of anger, my default has been fear of those in authority and those who might hurt me if I let myself get too close. In my private life, I have kept most everyone at a distance, and in my public life, I have not been willing to challenge systems and institutions with what my life experience has taught me about the world, the universe, and ourselves.
Instead, I lived my life mostly disconnected from having close relationships with institutions and fairly distanced from relationships with most people, allowing only the very few and very trusted to come close. I have talked in private about my ideas, and I work with individuals who are drawn to the unconventional work that uses physical, emotional, or mental distress as the doorway to the deeply hidden places within. Once the client enters the deeper places, I support them in bringing love and healing to the wounded parts of themselves and discovering who they truly are so they can become free of their version of self-imposed prisons.
Without any doubt, I know this is the work I was born to do. However, I have been hesitant to allow my voice to be heard beyond the arenas that feel safe. Years ago, one of my dearest friends called me a revolutionary, someone whose vision is to turn the world upside down, but that I was a reluctant messiah, not unlike the character in Richard Bach’s Illusions.
I do not hold conventional medical beliefs, and I don’t fit in with any of the traditionally accepted schools of psychology. I don’t fit in with the accepted scientific interpretation of the material world–or the physical universe. Years of study and introspection have caused me to believe in a very unconventional view of who we are and what the composition of the world and universe is. I have come to understand that everything each of us experiences in the outer world is a reflection of what our inner world believes to be true. We are all living on a self-created Star-Trek-Voyager Holodeck, without knowing it.
The very things we hate in the world are reflecting back to us the parts of ourselves we hate, and the things we truly love are reflected back to us, as well. The world is not a random series of events, unfolding through time, exactly the same for everyone, impacting us justly or unjustly with no other meaning.
In truth, the world you experience is not the same as the one I experience, because each of us sees the world that reflects back to us, ourselves. Our experience of the world is similar only to the degree that the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world are similar.
Part of the reason it is so difficult to break free of worlds that we do not want is because of the power of persuasion. When so many others hold similar beliefs, the Holodeck world we live in seems profoundly real. It takes courage to challenge the accepted worldview because of the pressure exerted by all those who want to hold onto the accepted world. Even if people do not like it, they have learned to manipulate it or to intimidate it…and have developed a false sense of safety in it, despite the fact that it is not real.
One of the conditions most frightened people need to feel safe, is to know the world in which they live and to believe they can predict what that world will do as it interacts with them in the present and future. That way, they can manipulate their behavior to fit what the world requires of them and they can hold onto the idea that they can be safe.
And angry people find safety in believing that they can control what happens in their world by intimidating or threatening whatever is out there to make sure it won’t hurt them. But no matter how each of us tries to create safety, if we are living with anger or fear…or both…we are disconnected from the most powerful truth we can know…and that is that everything we experience is ourselves reflected back to us. Our true answer is not to manipulate ourselves or to manipulate or intimidate the world to find safety. Feeling safe comes from knowing that no matter what happens, we are safe because it is all us. This can take lifetimes or even eons to learn because, for so long, sleeping through life was easier–and less painful–than waking. This is no longer true.
If our internal systems are disorganized, our outer world will reflect disorganization in some way, perhaps even in its opposite form. We can become obsessively organized to prove we are not disorganized…but something in our lives will reflect back the disorganization we cannot control, no matter how hard we try. If our internal world is filled with fear, our outer world will appear to give us cause for fear. If our internal world is filled with anger, our outer world will be filled with people who are angry with us or afraid of us, both of which will cause us to feel unsafe.
If we are trapped in patterns or belief systems we have inherited from our family systems or family genetics, or beliefs held by our culture, our peers, or our position in society, or beliefs that grew out of the experiences of our childhood and growing up years…we can experience our lives as if we were in prison, even if we have gotten so used to being in prison that we don’t even notice that we are trapped on our prison Holodecks. Anything that inhibits our amazing essence from expressing itself in the world in a free and flowing way is a prison, self-imposed as an attempt to keep us safe. And, when we experience being in a prison, it doesn’t matter if we are the prison guard or the prisoner. In either case, we are not experiencing our true selves, we are wearing a mask to cover up what we do not want anyone else to see.
Deep inside, I think most of us know this and this is why we put on masks to try to hide what is inside…we are so afraid of judgment that destroys our ability to manipulate and can make us feel unsafe or that we will be seen in our weakness and will lose the power to control. And then we try to “clean up” or get control of the outside to make it appear to fit the world in which we are trying to find safety, and convince others that all is well with us, when it is not. Or, we try to give the impression that we are in control when we are not. Whether we live in fear or anger, we try to make it appear that we are the masters, when we are not.
What most of us don’t really get is that whatever it is we have judged is wrong inside us and in our lives is nothing that needs to be judged, it is simply a reflection of where we are on the path to awakening to the message that we have disconnected from the truth of who we are. But most of us have no idea how to reclaim the truth and reclaim who we truly are. In time, we will learn that we are not the mask…we are not what we have tried to cover and hide behind the mask. And in time, we will learn that there is nothing to fear and nothing that requires us to be angry.
We are an amazing spark of God, and our world is us, reflecting back to us the beliefs we hold that we are not who we are. All that crosses our path and everyone in our lives reflect back to us the inner world we have held onto so tightly…so for each of us, our world is 100% us.
We are all learning how to take the key of truth and set ourselves free from the prisons we have lived in for so many lifetimes, to free ourselves of so many confining family, social, cultural, and generational belief systems that have kept is in the prison of our own House.
Through love, forgiveness, and acceptance of ourselves for wherever we are on the path toward understanding, we become free. We release the fear of what is out there by bringing love to the fear within us and by forgiving ourselves for being frightened and doing what we did because of the fear…and we forgive the part of us that attempted to frighten those on the outside like those who made us afraid.
We release the anger of what invaded our space and hurt us, by bringing forgiveness to the angry part of ourselves that became angry and acted out that anger, perhaps by doing to others what was first done to us, even if it is on the subtle plane and in our unconscious patterns. We come into alignment with ourselves, and as a natural result, alignment with the outer world by integrating the truth that we are a beautiful spark of God on a long path of awakening from eons of sleep, and learning who we are.
This is a process that with love, forgiveness, and acceptance of ourselves, we can, in time and with patience, experience life without prisons.
Though I know the truth of everything I have written in this article in my head, and most of my heart knows the truth of what I have written, parts of me are still hesitant to let go of a world they know and are learning how to do this, as reflected to me in a story of House in prison discovering a microsecond of freedom. From this perspective, House is me, even if I am House only subtly. And, my House has been a prison.
Who knew that awakening in the darkness of a cold, predawn morning in my isolated, little mountain cabin, and deciding to watch a prerecorded program that aired over a year ago could hold so much.