The key to freedom is being free of needing to have freedom at all.
You see, in many ways, spirituality, self-growth and awareness have become confusing, and in that confusion, we’ve gotten lost in spiritual materialism.
What is spiritual materialism?
A spiritual practice is anything that promises a resolution of a better or more X, Y, and Z place to be. No matter what practice or teaching it is, the ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain.
The practice of spirituality is to be with what is in front of you. Whatever you feel is stopping, blocking, or inhibiting your happiness is the exact thing that you must learn to surrender to and stop fighting.
“Walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process; it is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality; we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism.”
― Chögyam Trungpa
We love to dabble in pleasure but we’re fucking terrified to lose it, so we are always trying to cling to it, afraid to feel uncomfortable. We want more of what feels good.
Whether we are munching on our organic keto burgers or chugging smoothies, prepping for the big work presentation, getting the kids ready for school, planning an overseas trip, working out, mapping out a new content plan for marketing or having a lazy Sunday of self-reflection and rejuvenation, it all contains dissatisfaction, pain.
When we are in any type of pain, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, we want to escape as soon as we can. Thank you very much, Netflix, coffee, drama, over thinking, and analysis, Facebook, Instagram, and even yoga and self-help. Life is very naturally full of discomfort, our constant yearning to move away from it instead of curiously turning towards it, looking at it, opening your breath, your body, your mind, and heart to it and not trying to change it; that is freedom.
Let’s take a closer look at some basic physical principles that help us understand the push-pull of this psychological, mental, and emotional phenomenon.
It all boils down to this;
The illusion of freedom is that there isn’t any at all.
The lie that we tell ourselves is that we need to change ourselves or anything about our lives in order to be happy, and that is the lie that has us on this seeking, back bending, ego expanding journey of changing and healing and discovering.
It is a lie that we were ever trapped to begin with and that there is freedom that we must find.We see is as elusive and impossible to achieve but constantly seek to find it.
It’s inside out and upside down; I know. But this life is a paradox of truths that unfold onto each other and help us understand that the seeking is only bringing us to exactly where we started. When we honour that, we can see that it’s the seeking itself that takes us away from where we are, perfect and whole right now.
It’s the obsession with evolving into something better, something new, something bigger and brighter and more blissful that distracts us from the beauty that is in our midst.
Enlightenment is not when there is no more pain or sadness or struggle. Enlightenment is a welcoming of it. It is a welcoming of fear and disappointment.
Enlightenment is being able to welcome rejection and discomfort the same way that we would welcome validation and pleasure.
To be living as your highest self is not to seek to change anything to get high.
Enlightenment and evolution are not better places to get to, other places to be, things that we must seek, obsess about or find.
Oh, hell no.
The truth is this; what is here and now is our freedom.
The freedom is in not seeking anything different than what we have in this moment.
Even if that’s excruciating pain, heartache, or grief.
Even if it’s physical ache or emotional trauma.
This understanding is harsh, but it’s the truth. Thus it sets us free from seeking to escape, the desperate hunt to shift and change and be different from what we are. It sets us free from our want for better in the future, that some point, that future that we might even believe isn’t far away, that moment in time and space when we finally hold that thing in our grasp. It sets us free from our belief that we need to find the final piece of the puzzle that we felt was missing from our lives, preventing us from being fulfilled and happy in our life.
It sets us free from the perception itself that there is something amiss that is the causation of emptiness within us that fuels our search for freedom. Re-read that.
Yes, that’s right.
Fuck changing or transforming.
Fuck figuring out what, why, and how you have created the situations you have in your life, and simply, start with not trying to change.
That is your task right now and forever.
To be with what is.
To stop fighting.
Stop holding on.
This will slow things down enough to help you see what’s already here. It will open your eyes to life. It will help you release what’s not true, what’s not authentic, what is seemingly driving your success but in reality, is holding you prisoner.
If we continue trotting along the path of self-evolution or spirituality with the hope of being more than we are now, feeling better than we do now, then we are self-bound in spiritual deception. It might look and even feel ever so sweet, but it will not only rot your teeth but also imprison you. And no, you cannot just stroll along with an awareness that you are doing this and not be affected; your creativity for life, which is the force of all life, suffers.
When people talk about being on purpose or meditation, they speak of being in a better and more empowered place. While this may be true in many ways, the thirst and lust for this that can drive the seeking for purpose and pleasure of the practice of meditation can hinder us completely. People often say that they are living the dream when they’re running their own business or a similar variation of that theme may come from a well-practiced yogi.
Here is the ticker though, if you regard yourself or any part of your experience as the dream come true, then you are involved in self-deception. Self-deception seems always to depend upon the dream world because you would like to see what you have not yet seen, rather than what you are now seeing. You will not accept that whatever is here and now is what is, nor are you willing to go on with the situation as it is. Thus, self-deception always manifests itself in terms of trying to create or recreate a dream world, the nostalgia of the dream experience. And the opposite of self-deception is working with the facts of life.
It’s easy to be seduced and it’s a very natural step along the path. Ignorance leads to pain, and pain leads to awareness, and awareness leads to change. Remember when smoking was good for us? Yeh, right, same-same but different with spiritual and self-help practices promising salvation. Humaning is uncomfortable. Freedom is not trying to change or escape that.
Love is the opposite of power.
That’s why we fear it so much.
It’s why we tell ourselves stories about how grinding and pushing and overturning and aggression are the only ways.
To push, overpower and bully our way through life feels like a safer way to survive.
But here is the thing about bullies, even when we bully, when we are a little bit mean, a little undermining, a little judgmental; it’s our own pain of fighting ourselves that’s leaking out the edges. Now everyone knows the truth.
When you are mean to others,
When you are mean to yourself,
When you bend over backwards to please others,
When your rigid boundaries scowl at love and keep those you truly want in at arm’s length,
When you seek more power, we know that, all you need is a little more love.
When you lock yourself out of love for the seeking of power, it’s wise to pause and give that love to yourself.
Take things at a slower pace, that’s the secret to accelerating your understanding and maximising each moment of each day. That’s the key that underpins your ability to focus and create quality, not quantity.
Because, life, just like lovemaking, is best when done slowly and with your heart wide open.
That, love, is your freedom.