The key to freedom is being free of needing to have freedom at all.
You see, spirituality, self-growth and awareness has, in many ways, become confusing and in that confusion, we’ve gotten lost in spiritual materialism.
What is spiritual materialism?
Anything that is said to be a spiritual practice that promises a resolution of a ‘better’, or ‘more’ X, Y and Z place to be. No matter what the practice or teaching, 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 you must learn to surrender to, to 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 hold onto 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, 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 so 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.
That it all boils down to this;
The illusion of freedom is that there isn’t any at all.
The lie we tell ourselves that has us on this seeking, back bending, ego expanding journey of changing and healing and discovering is that we need to change ourselves or anything about life.
The lie is that we were ever trapped to begin with and that there was freedom to see.
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 to help us see that it’s the seeking itself that takes us away from where we are, perfectly and wholly right now.
It’s the obsession with evolving into something better, something new, something bigger and brighter and more blissful.
Enlightenment is not when there is no more pain or sadness or struggle. Enlightenment is a welcoming of it. A welcoming of fear and disappointment.
A welcoming of rejection and discomfort in the same way as we would welcome validation and pleasure.
To be as your highest self is to not seek to change anything to get high.
Enlightenment and evolution are not other better places to be, to seek, to find, to get to.
Oh, hell no.
The truth is that this, what is here and now is our freedom.
The freedom is in not seeking anything different than what we have in this instant.
Even if that’s excruciating pain, heartache or grief.
Even if it’s physical ache or emotional trauma.
This understanding is harsh, but all truth is, and thus it sets us free from the escaping. The desperate hunt to shift and change and be different from what we are. 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. That final piece of the puzzle that we felt was missing from our lives, preventing us from being fulfilled and happy in our life.
That perception itself that there is something amiss is the causation of emptiness within that fuels the 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 is actually holding you prisoner.
As long as we are 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, it will 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 from a well-practiced yogi.
Here is the ticker though, as long as 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 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 just working with the facts of life.
It’s easy to be seduced and I think 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 is the only way.
To push, overpower and bully our way through life.
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.
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 arms length.
When you seek more power, we know, 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 you.
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.