Personal Spiritual Liberation

Liberation is, in a sense, a negative term. It is always liberation from something. Thus it is often used in a social or political context to mean liberation from oppression or exploitation. This is important. However, spiritual liberation means something rather different. The spiritually liberated person is better equipped both to resist and to suffer oppression because of having freedom from inner conflicts.

Freedom from Compulsivity

The outward signs of spiritual liberation are in the form of freedom from compulsiveness. Compulsivity includes neuroses, addictions, rumination and obsessions, especially self-obsession. It may be an urge (so-called “need”) for or to do something or fear and abhorrence of something, or just a compulsive pattern of thought that disturbs our peace.

All forms of compulsivity have triggers. We are triggered into a compulsive mental routine by a stimulus. Such stimuli may be external or internal. When they are internal there is the danger of addictive cycles in which the trigger for the next fix is simply the wearing off of the effect of the last one.

Some forms of compulsivity are more disastrous than others. We regard something as serious when it substantially interferes with the living of a normal life, However, even those living “normal lives” are often doing so because of habits and fears that keep them trapped in a conventional box.

Types of Compulsiveness

The kinds of things that we have compulsivity around are basic features of physical and social life - food, sex, status, security, and the like. It can go in different ways: one person may eat compulsively while another become anorexic; one person is too inhibited to have sex and another is obsessed with it; one person feels superior and arrogant while another feels inferior and useless; one person can’t cope with being alone, another cannot cope with company or intimacy; one person cannot bear to be subordinate to another person while another person cannot handle not having somebody else to tell them what to do; and so on and on.

Doing some kind of personal stock-take of one’s compulsions can be a useful exercise. What do I feel that I must have? What can I not bear? Which areas of life preoccupy me?

The Liberated Person: All's Well

In principle, the liberated person is able to do pretty much anything without generating a self-punitive or self-adulatory script about it. He or she can eat when there is food and manage when there isn’t, can enjoy having money to spend and use it in creative or helpful ways yet manage when they don’t have much and not feel oppressed. They can be celibate or make love as is appropriate. They do not mind being seen naked and are quite capable of dressing up for an occasion if it meets the needs of the situation. If their is a high ranking position that needs somebody to occupy it, they can do it and feel no less happy to do so than occupying a menial role. They enjoy listening to a teaching as much as giving one. Thus, the liberated person does not waste energy on recrimination and worry.

The liberated person has a big “comfort zone” - is able to handle many situations. Contrary to common opinion, this is not a matter of “knowing who you are” nor of “valuing yourself”; in fact, it is more a matter of accepting that one does not know, that what one is is something that is constantly revealing itself, that things may well soon be different and there are many things one does not know. What is crucial, however, is willingness and that requires a basic faith in the unfolding of life and existence. One is part of something bigger the ultimate meaning of which is beyond one’s ken, but yet one has a basic trust that things work out and all’s well.

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what about assuming that liberation comes from letting go?

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