Once in contemplation I asked, “What is true freedom?” Inwardly I heard, “Freedom is an inside job.”
As I contemplated the meaning of this statement, I realized its truth. A country can ensure its citizens of certain freedoms–freedom of speech, freedom to follow the religion of one’s choice, or not, freedom to vote, etc. We may have a lot of outer freedoms, yet can spend a lifetime unknowingly imprisoned by the limitations within our own state of consciousness.
Our state of consciousness, how we think, what we believe to be true, our attitudes, have been created by our life experience, for we record consciously or unconsciously everything that has happened to us or been done by us. It is our own responsibility to choose and create inner freedom..to be free from anger, fear, greed, envy, and habits that harm us and others.
Years ago soon after I moved into a new neighborhood, the woman across the street came over to meet me. Almost immediately after introducing herself, she began to tell me how, 35 years earlier, her husband had left her for another woman. She still carried so much resentment and anger over this. She had never remarried or found happiness, imprisoned, held captive, by this one unhappy event in her life.
On the other hand, I’ve read accounts of survivors of the holocaust and of prisoners of war who, though outwardly imprisoned, starved and beaten, found a way to hold safe and free the inner sanctuary of their own consciousness.
It takes courage and incredible strength to hold fast to the awareness that the true self, the innermost part of us, cannot be controlled by events outside us. Our attitudes and beliefs are deeply ingrained patterns, as deeply ingrained as those of a prisoner experiencing brainwashing. Our conditioned patterns of thinking and being clash with others, for our minds have closed to seeing other viewpoints. Or is it that our hearts have closed? A closed heart leads to a closed life, closed to change and true happiness, true freedom.
But it is difficult to have a reaction, strong feeling or thought, and stop and ask, “Is this really me?” Learning to separate mental and emotional habits, our conditioned state of consciousness from our true self, is possible, but takes time and desire. It starts with a sincere question: “Who am I, apart from who I’ve been trained, taught, learned to be?”
Again, back to the importance of the daily spiritual practice. and a sincere desire to know oneself. Who am I? What was I created to do, know, to be? An important question is, how can we truly know another, unless we start with our self?
It’s the adventure of a lifetime, this search for inner freedom, because we are mining for life’s greatest treasure–the eternal love, wisdom, and creativity that we are. Free to Be.
(And of course, you’re free to not to believe any of this, for it was created out of my current limited state of consciousness.)