Friday, September 19, 2014

An Inner Wish for Freedom, part I

It promotes a properly ordered conscience to refuse attention to casual happenings, and for a man when he is by himself to give up his will wholly to God and then to accept all things equally from God: grace or whatever it may be, inward or outward.

—Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works,  pp.  290-91 (sermon 55)

I have a wish for freedom, but I always tend to interpret and understand this from an external perspective.

Whenever an inner energy comes that supports my Being, I see that freedom only arises from an inner state; and that the external perceptions are not helpful. So it’s this question on inwardness and detachment from what is outer that ought to preoccupy me; that is, it needs to be there first, within me, before the outer affects me. Yet I see how persistently the outer takes priority. 

Despite years of very real and deep daily experience, I still don’t fully appreciate this fundamental truth. I continue to believe in the outer disproportionately to what is needed. 

I think this comes from fear; it comes from a lack of trust. Fundamentally, I don’t trust the inner, even though it ought to have earned my trust long ago. In an exquisite irony, my life has been arranged for many years so that this lesson is reflected back at me in the actions of others. 

Perhaps this is exactly what I deserve; I suspect it’s so.

In another way I suffer continually because of this: I am inadequate. My wish for freedom has two natures: one is material, and natural, and comes from my ordinary being, and actually quite weak, although fear gives it great momentum.

The other one is spiritual, and enormously powerful. Yet it doesn’t belong to me; and because I’m so weak it’s only through a superior strength—the strength of the Lord—that that side finds expression. I search from my side for this contact, but I can’t make it happen. It only comes as the Lord wills it. So freedom isn’t mine; and the things I think of as freedom are not free.

I have had freedom, quite a lot of it, actually. I know exactly what it feels like. But this isn’t what I have earned or even deserve; blessings like this are never one’s right, and in fact my own experience tells me no one, of themselves and by their own action, is worthy of it. There may be some man or woman with a clean conscience who is free of sin, but somehow I doubt it. It is in the nature of us and where we are—where I am— that freedom is not ever deserved. It begins and ends as a mercy and a blessing and the only real response I can have is to make an inner effort.

So perhaps the underlying problem with my wish to be free begins here: it is my own wish: it’s of the ego.

And that, unfortunately, is no place to begin.


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