As we celebrate Independence Day, take a moment to close your eyes and contemplate the source of real and lasting freedom. The ties that bind are not found on the outside, but on the inside.
Celebrate our country’s freedom for sure and be grateful for it, but let it also be a reminder (not a distraction) to find and undo the hidden inner barriers to permanent freedom that can only be found in heart and mind.
This is our yoga!
To paraphrase Rumi, seek not for freedom, but rather find and remove the obstacles that you have put before you and lasting Freedom. Of course this inner process can include bodily stiffness and pain, but behind even the physical limitations, there is within each of us a hidden desire for pain and separation and we’ll use any means necessary to prove it to ourselves because it upholds our separate sense of self. This false self will continually look for an “outer cause” to blame in order to uphold even the slightest degree of inner suffering. How much blame and suffering does it take to completely hide real Freedom from your awareness? Any amount will do. Large or small, it doesn’t matter at all.
Real and lasting freedom can only be found within as a state of mind and then extended out into your world as a demonstration of it.
Conscious of it or not, our founding forefathers new this and then went about creating a country as a reflection of the Freedom they knew in their hearts and minds. They may not have agreed on what it would look like but eventually Freedom took over and they got it done. Outer circumstances can become so dire, that we are eventually forced to look within. It’s the only way “a fight” for freedom could be won because once real Freedom is found there is nothing that can take it away. This is the freedom we really want—heartfelt, lasting and true—and it’s our yoga to find it!
Here is the opening to the The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
It’s important to have a spiritual practice of some sort so that we don’t have to wait for “human events to become necessary” for change to occur. My favorite definition of a spiritual practice is anything that moves you toward lasting peace and freedom.
This is what we call yoga.
At one point in our lives, and probably many more, we will each find ourselves in a relationship where our freedom seems to be “taken away.” Whether familial, societal or political, it’s part of the ego’s drama to maintain a separate sense. Now, if we are “endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” then how could we fail? How could freedom be taken away? The Right to Life, Liberty and Happiness are unalienable which means no matter how much you try, these things cannot be taken away. They can only be hidden, and only you can hide them from yourself. It’s why people find the Light or Freedom in the darkest of times. Think Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Viktor Frankl to name a few, but many others who find Freedom in the midst of its seeming lack. But why wait for Freedom? Why put contingencies on It? Find it now and teach it to learn it.
Look within and choose against the thoughts of self doubt and blame. We are each responsible for our freedom and we each hold the “self-evident” truth to discover it, within, regardless of outer circumstances. I’ll be doing the same.