As we celebrate our nation’s independence this month, I have been reflecting on the spiritual meaning of the word “freedom.” The concept of freedom is often filled with images focused on what we get out of it- personal freedom, financial freedom, religious freedom and freedom in our relationships. Freedom has taken on the connotation of not being answerable to anyone or anything. I am free to do what I want. So, how does freedom fit into Oneness? Where is the “we” in “free”?
The founding fathers of this nation created a unique document guaranteeing each citizen a number of freedoms. But we are also free to discern which freedoms to exercise and in what way. I may be free by law to draw any satirical cartoons I desire, including ones picturing certain religious prophets, but does that mean it is in the highest good of all that I exercise that particular freedom? Does drawing such cartoons come from the genuine belief that it is the best way to support other oppressed groups in being free, or is it done just to prove the right to do it? How we choose to express our freedom is as significant and precious as the freedom itself.
In order to be a citizen of this nation, we agree to give up certain personal preferences in the name of what benefits the community. It might be personally expedient to drive as fast as I want when I’m late to work, but I don’t because it is against the law and is not safe for those on the road. It might benefit an industrial company to be able to use certain cheaper chemicals, but that company doesn’t do so because they are banned and would do far greater environmental harm. We surrender certain personal freedoms, but we do so in the name of the greater good and because it allows us to enjoy far greater freedoms that come from being part of a larger community.
True spiritual Freedom requires true Surrender. In order to be free to be in Oneness, we must first be free of our old selves, our separate selves. We must allow ourselves to be free of “me” in order to enjoy the greater spiritual freedom of the “we.”
The Spiritual Hierarchy might take Kennedy’s famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and kick it up a notch with “Ask not what the God/Goddess can do for you, but what you can do for the God/Goddess.” In other words, rather than looking at all the benefits of freedom to ourselves, let’s start focusing on gifts we’re able to give because of the freedom we enjoy.