Thinking of the word and concept of freedom today. We fight for freedom and lives are lost for the sake of freedom. This holiday is all about our nation’s fight for freedom.
In my daily spiritual practice, the word freedom is used in almost everything I read or hear. Freedom from the bondage of the separate self, freedom from suffering, freedom from nagging useless thoughts.
The meaning of freedom is “not being confined, exempt from external control or release from bondage“. So the battle for freedom can be fought on two levels. What is obvious is the battle for freedom in the external world. Not so obvious is the internal battle that might be going on for many….except for those who are now engaged in or have been engaged in this battle.
I never really thought of it as a battle since spirituality is all about non-violence even though most spiritual writings use the metaphor of a battle to bring home the point. The point being, if you really want freedom be prepared to give it your all and be brave because in the end you realize that the biggest battle of all …..is being able to surrender.
I think about the mind a lot, who is doing the thinking and it’s relationship to the brain. There are numerous concepts about the Universal Mind or Universal Consciousness used by different paths regarding the role that mind plays in self realization. It all gets very complicated and the terminology of the different paths make it even more difficult. But then, that’s the way the mind likes to work, to try to understand everything and figure out complex concepts and is part of what keeps the seeker seeking.
Like many, my first exposure to eastern thought was “Autobiography of a Yogi”. Yogananda frequently uses the analogy of a radio when talking of the mind. You can have a radio that works perfectly but it does nothing without some kind of energy source. Even when the perfect radio is plugged in to an energy source it’s still worthless without being tuned into a particular station or frequency. Only static exists if it is not tuned into exactly where the frequency can be picked up. Our bodies are also electrical devices and consciousness is providing the energy source to keep everything going.
I worked for a short time in a mental institution on a closed ward of severely emotionally disturbed patients who had been hospitalized most of their lives. They were totally in their own reality which was just as real to them as ours is to us. It could be the hardware (brain) or software (mind) not functioning properly but regardless, they were tuned into the wrong station to be functional in our society and there didn’t seem to be any way to help them change the station.
All of us have the problem of slipping off the station of our true reality and living on the static fringe of our perceived reality. I like to think that most of us have the ability to keep fine tuning our radio until we have the clearest station we can get….and maybe that’s what seeking is all about.
“O Lord, with the soft touch of intuition I will tune my soul radio and rid my mind of static restlessness, that I may hear Thy voice of cosmic vibration, the music of atoms, and the melody of love vibrating in my superconsciousness.” ~ P. Yogananda
I’ve been a pray-er for as long as I can remember. As soon as I became aware that there was a power in charge and there was a possibility of a direct line to that power, I was all in.
Who I pray to and how I pray has taken different forms throughout the years depending on the spiritual practice I was involved in at the time. I’ve gone from simple praying to a personal God figure for help to a more cerebral kind of praying to a scientific quantum level of connectedness.
Praying to myself seemed strange so I used the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” during meditation which means I honor the divinity within myself. However, that also plays to the illusion of calling forth something for guidance and help that is hiding out someplace waiting for permission to show up. Now that I’m drawn to nonduality…who am I praying to?
Even tho prayer is not a major part of my life like it once was, I still like the connectedness and need to stop analyzing it and just enjoy the silent conversation….with whatever it is….
I never understood the Christian idea of original sin and the concept that we are all sinners until I heard a theology professor interpret sin as simply a pulling away from God. Through our human conditioning, we perceive ourselves as separate individuals and lose touch with our connection to Oneness which causes suffering.
To use the much over-used metaphor of the wave and the ocean, we could say that when we are only aware of being the wave, that could be interpreted as living in sin. When we are aware that we are the entire ocean perceiving ourselves as the wave, we are saved.
For the last few weeks I have not been able to do some of my regular spiritual practices or reading and find that I feel more like an isolated wave than the ocean. Things don’t seem quite right. I’m aware that my thinking is different, my body feels more tense, my mind works overtime and my peace is fading.
Does it take constant vigilance and effort to ride the wave and enjoy the ride? At some point shouldn’t the ride become effortless?
The definition of sin is a transgression or violation of divine law. The story goes that we are all born with original sin, there is no escape unless we receive the holy spirit (or whatever the tide-turning event may be).
As a seeker I guess I have been looking for the holy spirit in one form or another….calling it many names. Maybe the answer is just to accept that the nature of a wave is to appear to be separate from the ocean on the surface….underneath there is no difference.
Sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite. I see myself as a spiritual person, a seeker possessing some clarity and think I have life in perspective. All this is easy and flowing when my life is easy and flowing. It’s when life brings me difficult situations that I pull out all of the tricks in my “awareness/enlightenment bag”.
I’m in a difficult situation now caring for a parent and all thoughts unpleasant are arising from the past. I want to be the spiritual me and see the situation as growth, a challenge, opportunity, practice, learning compassion, staying with the here and now, integrating the past, acceptance, what is. All the words and concepts help when I’m away from the situation but when I am immersed in it….they are not to be found. Emotions are set in the default mode and don’t respond to reason.
During these times I want to whip out my bag of tricks to help get to a place of peace and clarity. I need to meditate, I need to do more yoga, I need to drink alkaline water, I need to eat more organic foods, I need to stay in the here and now, the past does not define me….anything to help.
Maybe the conditionings of the past will never leave…maybe this is who I really am…and the spiritual me is the illusion. These are the thoughts that scare me the most.