Thursday, May 20

Reflections on freedom

The secret of happiness is freedom and the secret of freedom is courage.
- Thucydides

Yesterday I had the occasion to meet with my spiritual advisor, a self-described crone who has exceptional talents (and whom I am inordinately fond of). During the course of our discussions, she pointed out that the Gift of the Divine is the gift of Freedom. That is to say that to be in/of God is to be free, liberated from 'sin', guilt and external expectations. Unsurprisingly, this has led me to think and reflect upon the concept of freedom and what it means to be free.

In the first, I would mention that freedom does not mean to be without responsibility. Whether it be the idea of Karma or the Wiccan three-fold rule, there is a fundamental assertion that any action has an effect and will affect the actor.

That said, by walking in this spiritual journey closer to the Divine, we wander further away from the common constraints placed upon us by the mundane world. This dichotomy is oft-times invisible, for the laws and morays placed upon us all by the outside world commonly conform to, whether at a similar or lower level, the responsibilities we feel exist that come from our own internal morals. Herein lies the key, I do believe.

When we live our lives bound by rules placed upon us by others, we live with the looming spectre of punishment (be it disapproval, disavowal or worse). Our days and years are filled with the 'shoulds' and the 'oughts' and the 'musts'. If, instead, we live our lives in accord with what each of us has derived as appropriate, then the shackles of negativity fall away and we are left with only the benefices which are derived from right-guided action. We do what we wish, knowing what we wish is right and good and proper (because our hearts and minds say so).

To do this, however, one must take responsibility or, as I prefer, ownership. Ownership of our own lives, of our own actions. If we do well or screw up, it's not the fault of our parents or 'society', only us. There is, paradoxically, the recognition of a surrendering of ownership. One must recognize and surrender to the will of the Divine, trusting in faith that the Divine is working in a manner for the betterment of all. This, I believe, is the root understanding of Islam, as the literal translation of the word means 'submission (to Allah)'.

This brings us full circle to Thucydides. To be in God is to be free, and to be free is to have courage. Courage to do what is right because we feel that it is right as well as courage to 'let go and let God'.

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