Two monks were returning to their aboard through a forest, discussing all that they had learned in the monastery. The old Monk listened sagely while the younger one seemed all charged about following each principle and never stepping into the material realm of existence.
As they walked along, they came to a river that was quite turbulent due to the stormy weather. The whole area was deserted. As they were about to pass through, they saw a beautiful young woman, who seemed worried and nervous.
“My son is unwell. I came to this side of the river to buy some medicine. It is late and I have no way of going to the other shore. Can you carry me across?” She asked, anxiously. The young monk hesitated, but the older one picked her up without hesitation, put her onto his shoulders and carried her across the river to the other bank. She thanked him profusely and departed.
As the monks continued on the way, the younger one was brooding and preoccupied. After a while, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out, “Brother, how could you pick up that woman? Our spiritual training teaches us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked her up on your shoulders and carried her!”
“Brother,” the old monk replied, “the moment I crossed the river, I set her down on the ground long back. You, on the other hand, are still carrying her in your mind!”
We are all aware of political, economic, religious and even intellectual freedom. But what is spiritual freedom?
And why is it important? The greatest challenge for us as humans is to free ourselves from the mindset that is ingrained in us from one generation to another. This mindset has crippled our choices.
Victor Frankl says, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” From the time we are born we are continuously absorbing information, instructions, rules, and regulations in our subconscious mind. From what to eat, how to behave, what to wear, what is good, or what we must dislike. This doesn’t end here. We are influenced to an extent of what to think, what to say, how to feel, how to respond and so on.
As we grow up, we keep making decisions, dreams, and visions based on our choices that are hijacked by the recorded data from the past. This controls the way we react on the face of any trigger. We do not have the awareness to respond. We do not have the wisdom to pause and choose our response after any stimulus. The stimulus could be a loved one, a boss or a random encounter on the road.
The fundamental block is our attachment to our thoughts and beliefs. Everything else is based upon this. Who we can be with and who we cannot be with, what kind of food we eat and what we don’t eat, where we go and where we don’t go, what kind of ideas we ascribe to and what we reject – everything is fundamentally rooted in thoughts and belief systems. If you can work on this one thing, the spiritual process won’t happen slowly, it will explode in you. This is Spiritual Freedom.
The easiest way to begin is to sit quietly and focus on your breath. An old Zen saying suggests, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” All kidding aside, it’s best to start in small moments of time, even 5 or 10 minutes, and grow from there.
Start by getting into a comfortable seated position, so that your wrists and ankles are not crossed and your back is upright and not leaning on anything.
A guided practice that can help you quiet your mind and go beyond all those thoughts that hinder your spiritual freedom-
Make sure you won’t be disturbed and there are no distractions such as phones or music, and give yourself permission to be there for as long as you need.
Begin by observing the rhythm of your breathing.
As you become more tuned in to your breathing, allow your awareness to tune into your heart rate. Feel the rhythm of your heartbeats. It’s OK if your mind gets busy. Simply thank your ego for its input and then let it know this is a time it can use to rest.
Now let your awareness move into your heart space and simply observe how you feel within this space. Is it a welcoming space? Do you feel safe and happy being there? Is there any resistance to being there?
When you have spent the time you need to in your heart space, allow your awareness to focus back on your heartbeat, then your breathing, then come back into the room and open your eyes.
Practices like these are not an over-the-counter medication that you pop in anytime and feel better. Allow the practice to become an integral part of your daily life. Spiritual Freedom is living each moment in awareness and alignment with the light/the source. When we train our mind and heart to live in this state we experience the explosion of Spiritual Freedom within! Attachments area.
Very good article on freedom. Any type of temptation can disturb any type of freedom.