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Within each person is a deep yearning for freedom. Freedom, like oxygen, is required for life, yet most of us can’t fully define it. Our lives are covered with layer upon layer of captivity and thus, we only know freedom from its most proximate layer to our life. This is why some people see freedom as being debt free, while some see freedom as doing as we please, or being who we imagine ourselves to be.
While each layer of freedom is important, once discovered, each only opens up a new envoy of captivity. A person free of debt is not free from having to work. A person free of one addiction, discovers captivity to another. Countries based on freedom and democracy turn out to be neither. No wonder we are captivated by cynicism.
Every sector of human life has a guru which will offer us a futile freedom within our health, finances, work, or faith. Each area of discovery and growth brings with it a commensurate amount of liberation, but not ultimate freedom. Those who have had the economic means or time to pursue this elusive freedom often only find despair once they realize the captivity of our brief lifespan or the limitations still imposed upon them.
The spiritual freedom offered by systems of faith helps us access the framework we need to discover great freedom, but often binds us to yet another form of religious captivity.
What are we to do? Where can we turn?
If we would find and fully experience a true, fully orbed, multi-modal, ontological freedom…the best I can offer is that it comes by way of divestment, not acquisition. Freedom is possessed first by our willingness to die. Whether in part or whole, freedom displaces captivity once some part of us is mortified. We must become free from our surface level self, while simultaneously discovering our true inner self (soul) who is transparently grounded in our Maker. As John Calvin said, the search for God and the search for self are the same pursuit.
Within this timeless, infinite, state of being, presence, or stillness…we gain a glimpse of who or whose we are in love, and this light casts a shadow upon all the fictions, attachments, and artifacts that we have collected to prop themselves up as the “I” we show to others. Freedom is at last the ability to see our pseudonyms, pretenses, and temporal illusions. And once seen for the shadow puppet they are, freedom is the ability to accept each as the teacher they now become, and not resent them for the captivity they bring. For once we are free to see clearly beyond our life through this darkness, death itself becomes the mark of liberation, not captivity. Paul said:
“the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21)