Another good reminder from Adya:
Whenever I imagine something out there in others, future or past, and it’s something I wish for….
Is it true it’s not already here?
Is it OK if it’s small? Is it OK if what I find here is small right now?
Another good reminder from Adya:
Whenever I imagine something out there in others, future or past, and it’s something I wish for….
Is it true it’s not already here?
Is it OK if it’s small? Is it OK if what I find here is small right now?
Here is Adyashanti talking about the shift from insight to dissolution of identity, or from realization to being it.
It’s something that’s very much alive for me these days. I knew that realization and insights were just stepping stones, and now they seem to belong more to the past – at least in terms of interest. What it’s about now is being it, allowing and – as Adya says – aligning myself with the shift into being it.
The true spiritual impulse….. isn’t particularly concerned whether you are happy or not. Did you ever notice that? (3:16-3:34)
At a certain point, you kinda get the feeling that the whole game shifts, and it isn’t really you chasing God but God chasing you. Have you ever had that feeling? (4:33-4:50)
I am already doing to myself, what I am afraid other people will do to me.
That’s a good reminder for me from Adyashanti – the Moving Beyond Stuckness episode of Radio Adyashanti from last week, Feb. 2, 2011.
What am I afraid people will do to me? What do I tell myself that keeps me from being more honest, authentic and fully myself with others?
I am afraid that others will reject me, disapprove of me. Dislike me. Have contempt for me. Disagree with me. Talk about me behind my back. Put me down. Talk disparagingly about me. Inflict pain on me. I am afraid will be alone.
Do I already do this to myself?
What do I not want to see?
That’s one of the most powerful questions whenever I feel stuck or caught up in stories and reactions.
What do I not want to see?
I often find that what I don’t want to see, what I initially may have the most resistance to seeing, is exactly that which clears the situation up for me.
Adyashanti has a new book out, this time an introductory one. It is available only through his website until April or so.
What would it be like if you didn’t need to struggle, if you didn’t need to make an effort to find peace and happiness? What would that feel like now?
~ Adyashanti, Falling into Grace
In the same way that we fall into the arms of a loved one or drop our heads on the pillow at night, we can surrender into the beauty and truth of who and what we really are. In his first introductory book, Falling into Grace, Adyashanti invites us to let go of our struggles with life and open to the full promise of spiritual awakening: the end of delusion and the discovery of our essential being. Adyashanti has found that the simpler the teaching, the greater its power to change our lives. In this book he shares what he considers fundamental insights that will “spark a revolution in the way we perceive life.”
From the Radio Adyashanti e-newsletter:
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The next broadcast of Radio Adyashanti will be on Wednesday, March 11. This free program will begin with a talk, followed by call-in dialogues.
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I am reading Adyashanti’s new book, The End of Your World and find it very helpful. It is clear. Practical. And an invitation to allow our human self to live within awakening with integrity, in an always more healthy and mature way.
Since I have recently read Wake Up Now by Stephan Bodian, and they both take a similar approach, I am struck by how well the two books complement each other. Wake up Now is for anyone anywhere on the path, and The End of Your World is specifically for those where there has been an awakening, whether it is non-abiding or abiding.
Adyashanti is a new age charlatan.
I came across someone on a Buddhist themed blog who expressed that view. And since it is a foreign view for me – at least about Adya! – I thought I would step into their shoes, or rather the shoes of that belief, and see what happens. (His comments were triggered by the Globaloneness interview with Adya.)
Stories are really questions about the world, which means they are an invitation for inquiry.
:: each dream a full life, what content would I choose? ::
Just as a thought experiment, say that each night I dreamt a full human life, from birth to death, in great detail. And say I could choose the content of these dreams, with no limitations.
What would I do?
Maybe we would start with a few months of dreams that fulfills all our most immediate desires. Then, it may get a little boring, so why not add some drama? And to spice it up, why not forget within the dream that it is a dream? And to really make it juicy, why not take it to an extreme?
:: each day the same day, how would I want to live it? ::
I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time (better late than never), and that story too is really a question for ourselves, an invitation to inquiry. If I lived the same day over and over, how would I live that day? How would I, eventually, want to live that day?
A great little video of Adyashanti talking about the difference between resisting and fully allowing experience. (Thanks to Sean for mentioning it to me!)
In my experience too, there is a big difference between almost and fully allowing an experience.
If it is allowed 98%, there is still some identification with resistance, pushing it away, escaping, wanting it to go away. So there is a sense of getting closer to it, which makes it more intense, yet resistance which makes it very uncomfortable. In a conventional sense, it only makes it worse.
But if it is fully allowed, as it is, as if it would never go away, there is a shift, a release out of the whole dynamic of resisting and resisted, of a split within form where I am identified with a should and something else is what shouldn’t be there.
And this goes not only for what our personality usually does not like, such as pain, sadness, anger, frustration and so on. It equally much goes for what our personality tends to like, such as joy, bliss and passion.
In both cases, there is an identification with a should, and in both cases there is drama and discomfort in the impermanence of it, either when something that should be there goes away or doesn’t come at all, or something that should not be there comes or stays. And in both cases, our identification is firmly with stories and within form.
When our experience is fully allowed, there is a release out of the drama and the struggle with it. And this release also helps us notice the quiet bliss that is always there within any experience. The bliss of existence itself, of awareness, of this awakeness which is inherently free from everything so allowing it all.
It seems that the shift can happen a few different ways.
The pain, grief, joy and so on stays more or less the same, but there is a release out of the drama, and a noticing of the quiet sweet bliss that is inherent in experiencing itself.
Or the content shifts more dramatically, from pain, grief, anger, or whatever it may be, to a sense of a nurturing fullness (with slightly different flavors depending on what it shifted from) along with the quiet bliss of existence itself.
For me, the first can happen if I am out and about and don’t have the time or opportunity to fully bring attention to it. And the second happens if I have a few minutes for myself and can be with it more fully. (Also, the first happens if the process has further to go, in which case there is the co-existence of a lot of different emotions and feelings as Adyashanti talks about.)
It almost seems that the initial surface experience, which we can label pain, sadness, anger, or something else, appears that way due to the resistance. When there is a release out of the resistance, it is revealed as something quite different. As a sweet nurturing fullness, with a particular flavor coming from its surface starting point. Anger becomes clarity and alertness. Sadness becomes a stable and quiet attention. Pain becomes a sense of clarity and aliveness.
There are a lot of wrinkles and intricacies here too, as with anything else. And as with most other things, we become familiar with the terrain through experience.
One of the big shifts that may happen over time is the shift from habitually identifying with wanting an experience to be different, to realizing that it is really, truly, OK as it is. This makes it much easier to be with it, fully allowing it as it is, as if it would never go away, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.
Bringing in the heart certainly also helps, being with the experience as you would quietly be with a wounded animal or a hurt child.
Adyashanti often talks about how we go to the mind and body for the truth, and when I explore that for myself, I find the same.
Going to the mind for the truth is pretty obvious. We rely on thoughts to tell us how the world is, what is true, and how to behave.
Going to the body for truth is maybe a little less obvious. (I wrote about this one in the previous post.)
I find that I go to the body for truth, relying on two different signs. One is emotions, which are really just sensations and a story about these sensations. And the other is sensations such as tension, discomfort, shallow breath, and so on.
And I find that the bodily sensations I rely on for truth are the ones coming from beliefs. Any beliefs trigger reactive emotions, muscle tension and changes the breathing pattern, especially when it clashes with life as it unfolds or may unfold. These beliefs are, by definition, taken as true. So I associate these bodily changes with not only a story, but a true story, a truth. The outcome of all this is that reactive emotions, muscle tension and changes in breathing patterns are all taken as indication of truth.
Or more precisely, I see that beliefs all have to do with shoulds, with how life should be. So these bodily signs tell me that life is showing up differently than it should.
Somebody acts in a certain way, which triggers these bodily signs of reactive emotions, muscle tension and shallow or forced breathing. I notice these bodily reactions, and take them as a sign that life shows up differently from how it should, and that this person acted differently from how he or she should. And from there, I look for a story behind it, a story also telling me that life is wrong, life is unfolding differently from how my story and body tells me it should.
I have listened some more to Adyashanti’s Five Truths About Truth, which is as clear and beautiful as just about any teaching I have heard.
It is also a reminder to the simple inquiry practice he suggests: take a desire or a want, and then ask yourself what do I hope that will get me? Continue that questioning until it cannot go further. And we can then ask ourselves is it true that it is not already here?
As with any of these practices, it is not so helpful to just know about it, or have a memory of doing it in the past and of whatever we discovered then. It needs to be explored here and now, using material alive for me.
I want to be healthy, which will get me energy, clarity, joy, sense of fullfilment, sense of engagement. Is it true that these are not here now? For each of them, I can find it here now.
This shifts my whole experience. From seeing what I need as out there somewhere, apart from me in space and time, I notice it right here now, and I see that it was never anywhere else. It is here now, and appears out there due to a thought placing it there.
In the terminology of the Big Mind process, this inquiry invites a shift from seeking mind to nonseeking mind.
It is not uncommon to describe thoughts as a tool, one that has great practical value for our human self in the world. It is very useful for helping us navigate and function in the world, for instance by creating an overlay of thoughts on top of perceptions, including organizing the sensations within a sense of extent (space) and continuity (time).
Towards the end of Five Truths About Truth, Adyashanti takes that analogy further in a very illuminating way.
With out physical tools, we are usually pretty clear about when it is appropriate to use them, and what they can and cannot do. They are each used only as needed.
For instance, we would not ask a hammer about the meaning of life. But we do ask that question of the thinking mind, although that too is just a tool, of limited and practical value, and cannot really come up with a (satisfactory) answer to that type of question. It will innocently try to come up with an answer, and may spend a lot of time and energy doing so, but whatever answer comes up will never quite do it. It will always feel a little hollow and, ultimately, meaningless.
In the same way, as Joel at CSS pointed out a few Sundays ago, thinking mind is great for collecting information about and projecting possible outcomes of decisions, but it cannot make the decision. That comes from somewhere else, for instance the heart.
Thinking mind is an amazing tool, and it does a great job at what it is good at.
It produces an overlay of space and time on top of perception, allowing this human self to navigate in the world. It creates and continuously refine maps and databases of information. It projects memories of the past into the future creating possible scenarios of what may happen and what likely outcomes of different choices may be. It takes direct perception and experience and puts it into worlds to help differentiate and explore experience, and also communicate it to others. All of this helps our human self to orient, navigate and function in the world.
At the same time, just about all the misery of human existence comes from not being clear about how and when to use this tool. We attach to what it produces as if they were absolute truth, while they are only innocent suggestions and questions about the world. We ask it to do things it cannot do, such as coming up with answers to existential questions and make decisions for us. We identify with the thoughts it secretes and take them as “I”, while they are really just phenomena arising as anything else.
The whole process of awakening, of Ground noticing itself, is really just about how thoughts are related to. Are they taken as absolute truths and an “I”? Then, misery.
Are they seen as just thoughts, phenomena arising, inherently absent of an I? Then clarity and ease.
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One of the simple inquiries Adyashanti suggests is to (a) identify wants (needs, wishes, motivations) and (b) explore what we hope to get out of it, continuing until we find what appears to be the seed motivation, the one that is a goal in itself.
Finding the seed motivation
For me, it seems that no matter what I start with, from the most mundane to the embarrasing to the elevated motivations and wishes, I see that their seed motivation is to be free from suffering, and find happiness.
And seeing the many manifestations of the seed
The layer just outside of this seed includes (a) being free from pain, a sense of separation, having what I don’t want and not having what I want, a sense of not being in the right place, a sense of loss and lack, of being finite in time so subject to birth and death, of being finite in space so subject to the whims of the myriad other objects, and (b) wanting a sense of belonging, of being home, of safety, of contentment.
Already aligned, and also aligned in conscious experience
Exploring surface motivations in this way, one by one, I find that they are always aligned in their depths. They all come from the same seed motivation. And through this exploration, through bringing this into awareness in a genuine way, through a sincere exploration, they also become aligned in my surface awareness. Awareness is brought to the seed, so they are aligned also at surface awareness.
Ease and simplicity
There is a sense of ease and simplicity around this as well. Finding the seed motivation behind each of the many surface motivations gives a sense of simplicity. And seeing that they all are already aligned gives a sense of ease.
There may is still the deliberation between choices in daily life, but now knowing that they are already aligned, they all are from the same seed motivation, and this allows a good deal of the drama to fall away. The appearance of internal war and struggle goes.
Seeing it here, and also there
So there is not only an immediate sense of the same seed motivation behind all the many and varied motivations surfacing in my daily life, but there is also a sense of the same with others. I see others having many different motivations and acting on them, and there is a felt sense of how they too want freedom from suffering, and happiness. This too takes a great deal of the drama out of it.
The inner mirroring the outer
As long as I am not familiar with the seed motivations of my many surface motivations, I’ll experience a struggle among them. And I will also experience a struggle between my own surface motivations and those of others.
Being familiar with my own seed motivations, it becomes effortless to also see them in others (or something similar), and see that we are all in the same boat.
The sense of struggle and drama goes out of it, internally and in relationship with others, although there are still choices made, still negotiations and explorations, still deliberations and sometimes not the apparently ideal options and resolutions.
Partial and deepening resolution
Of course, as long as there is a sense of I and Other, there will also be a sense of struggle and drama, but it is at least diminished, sometimes greatly diminished, through clarifying the seed motivations.
And the more the seed motivation is not only clearly seen, but also deeply felt, in our whole being, the more thorough this resolution is. We see and feel the seed motivation behind the varied surface motivations, and the trails leading from the surface ones to the seed.
The only full resolution is to realize that there is no I here in this human self, no I anywhere in all of form or anywhere else. There is just the field of awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of I anywhere, and now awake to itself as a field. There is no center. There is no doer, only the doing.
This human self, as anything else in the world of form, just happens. Arising here now in always fresh, new, different ways. Always new and fresh expressions of Spirit, absent of I anywhere.
I have started listening to Adyashanti’s Five Truths About Truth, and find his way of talking to be as refreshing, simple and clear as always.
He is one of the few I know who talks about the awakening of the belly center. He mentioned it in passing at his satsang in Ashland, and has probably talked about it in more detail other times (still looking for it).
Feeling into being emptiness
In Five Truths About Truth, I notice that he emphasizes feeling into the experience of being awake emptiness.
In my experience, that is one of the aspects of the awakening of the belly center. It allows for and invites to a deepening feeling, with the whole body and every cell of the body, that all is Spirit, all is awake emptiness and form, and it allows for a deepening reorganization of the body and the emotions within this new context.
Practice, and dropping into it
The difference is that before an awakening (even a very early awakening, as in my case) it remains a practice, something we have to intentionally do. After, it happens on its own, and the only intention is to surrender anything coming up, any beliefs, identities, any aspect of the personality, to it.
Alive luminous blackness
Also, before the belly center awakening the term fertile darkness does not make so much sense (at least it didn’t for me). After, it becomes a living presence, an immediate experience.
It is a fertile darkness, an alive luminous blackness which is the ground of all forms, gives a deep sense of fullness and nurturing, and allows for a deep reorganization and healing of the emotional level. And as Almaas writes, and I have experienced since the (early) belly awakening some weeks ago, this luminous blackness is experienced everywhere, as if “peering out through all forms” as he puts it.
Almaas, and Barry and Karen the diksha givers, are the only ones I have found so far whose experiences with this reflects my own, down into the details, although it must be a relatively common occurrence, it is just that I haven’t explored it before in this way, and not looked for descriptions of it.
One of the most clear, simple and beautiful descriptions of an awakened life I have found, from Adyashanti.
While the world is trying to solve its problems and everyone around you is engaged in the same, you’re not. While everybody around you is trying to figure it out, trying to arrive, trying to “get there,” trying to be worthy, you’re not. While everyone thinks that awakening is a grand, noble, halo-enshrouded thing, for you it’s not. While everybody is running from this life right now, in this moment, to try to get there, you’re not. Where everybody has an argument with somebody else, mostly everybody else, starting with themselves, you don’t. Where everybody is so sure that happiness will come when something is different than it is now, you know that it won’t. When everybody else is looking to achieve the perfect state and hold on to it, you’re not.
When everybody around you has a whole host of ideas and beliefs about a whole variety of things, you don’t. Everyone on the path is getting there; you haven’t gotten anywhere. Everyone is climbing the mountain; you’re selling hiking boots and picks at the foot in the hope that if they climb it and come back down, they may be too exhausted to do it again. When everybody else is looking to the next book, to the next teacher, to the next guru to be told what’s real, to be given the secret key to an awakened life, you’re not. You don’t have a key because there’s not a lock to put it in.
When you’re living what you are in an awakened way, being simply what you’ve always been, you’re actually very simple. You basically sit around wondering what all the fuss is about.
When everyone is sitting around saying, “I hope that happens to me,” you remember when you did that. You remember that you didn’t find a solution to that. You remember that the whole idea that there was a problem created all of that.
When you’re being what you are, when you’re living the awakened life, there’s nobody to forgive, because there’s no resentment held, no matter what.
The truth of your being doesn’t crave happiness; it could actually care less. It doesn’t crave love, not because you are so full of love, but because it just doesn’t crave love. It’s very simple. It doesn’t seek to be known, regarded highly, or understood. When you’re living what you are in an awakened way, there’s no ideal for you anymore. You’ve stepped off the entire cycle of suffering, of becoming; you’re not interested.
And finally, when you’re just living in the awakened way that you really are, you’ll never form an image again of what it’s like. Even as it’s happening, you won’t form an image because you’ll know they’re all images, dust. The way it was yesterday won’t be the way it is today.
Adyashanti likes to talk about what happens when wanting falls away: We want something, get it, and experience the fullness and contentment that is there when the wanting goes into the background for a while.
Of course, his point is that the absence of wanting is what gives this sense of fullness and contentment, not getting what we (think we) want. What we think we want may be an object, but what we really want is to experience the fullness and contentment always here, and coming into the foreground when the wanting is in the background.
What do I really want?
One way to explore what we really want behind our surface wants is to make a list, and then for each want ask what do I hope to get out of this? And then the same question, until we arrive at something that is not reducible to something else.
A simple sequence may look something like this: I want money >> security, safety, freedom >> happiness, freedom from suffering, freedom from and not victim of circumstances.
Is it true it is not already here?
Having found this, we can ask ourselves is it true that what I seek is not already here?
Happiness: yes, I can find that right here. When there is a simple quiet being with whatever is experienced, there is a quiet happiness and bliss here, independent of whatever else is experienced. Freedom from suffering: yes, I can find that too here. There is something here always free from suffering and any other content. Something not touched by content. A wakefulness, clarity, capacity for everything to arise within. Seeing free from any of the particulars of the seen. Freedom from circumstances: yes, that too is right here, in the same stainless wakefulness and seeing.
Big Mind process
Through the Big Mind process, we discover the same but with more differentiation.
We see how seeking mind is immensely useful in many ways, including on a purely practical human everyday level. Yet, if seeking mind is typically in the foreground, there will be a chronic sense of dissatisfaction. There is always something to seek that is just around the corner, just over the next hill, just into the future or over there.
When nonseeking mind comes into the foreground, there is a sense of fullness, quiet, contentment. Here, we notice that what we seek is already here.
They both have their functions: Seeking mind on a practical relative level, and nonseeking mind as a reminder of the absolute.
In the relative, there may indeed be lack and something to gain. In the absolute, there is nothing missing. Both are needed.
Of the many things I appreciate about Adyashanti, and maybe especially how there is always the invitation to find what is true for oneself.
He speaks from what he has explored thoroughly for himself, from what is alive for him right now, and in ways that invites the listeners to find it for themselves right now – in their own immediate awareness. His talk becomes a set of questions for inquiry.
There is a tremendous freshness, openness, immediacy and aliveness in this.
Here is one of the inquiries Adyashanti suggests…
Is it true that what I seek is not already here?
Specifically, he suggests asking this about our meditation. If I seek peace through meditation, is it true that this peace is not already here? If I seek to realize selflessness, is it true that this selflessness cannot be noticed right here?
But it applies more generally as well, to anything we seek.
There is a wonderful simplicity in this.
I went to a half-day satsang with Adyashanti yesterday, in Portland, and it was wonderful. As a friend of mine said, he is a breath of fresh air.
Awakening and flowering of Spirit
One of the things he talked about is the distinction between awakening and the flowering of Spirit, or Enlightenment and Self-Realization as Ken Wilber calls it in Integral Spirituality.
One is the awakening of Big Mind to its own nature. It is realized selflessness. The other is the continuing maturing and development of this human self, or as Adya said it: the flowering of Spirit through this human life.
Flowering of Spirit in always fresh ways
As he pointed out, Spirit never repeats itself. It is always manifesting as fresh, new, different. Uniquely, whether it is as a snow flake, a mountain, or through and as a human life.
So this flowering inevitably involves the breaking of boundaries, of the conventions of society and our tradition, of the expectations of ourselves and others, of our old limited identity, any ideas of what this human self can and should do. The flowering, if full and encouraged, will naturally break and go beyond any and maybe all of these imaginary boundaries.
Adyashanti himself is one of the most clear examples of this. He goes beyond any imaginary boundary, whether from culture, tradition (Zen, in his case), expectations, identity. I suspect he continually surprises even himself.
It is possible to restrict and narrowly channel this flowering of Spirit, if there is a clinging to norms, tradition, expectation and old identities. And this probably happens quite a lot.
And it is possible to encourage this flowering of Spirit, going beyond boundaries existing only as ephemeral ideas.
Genpo Roshi does this, having gone beyond the Zen tradition and developed the Big Mind process. Byron Katie certainly does this, although she has learned to talk and communicate in a way that is a little easier for people to take in.Adyashanti does this, in his wonderfully clear and fresh teachings. Douglas Harding does this, daring – in a quite traditional British culture, to suggest that we are really headless in our own immediate experience.
Most of the figures recorded by history also seem to fall into this category, although that does not mean that they were necessarily more important the many who were more anonymous or less obviously adventurous. Jesus was certainly an iconoclast, as were BuddhaShakyamuni, Bodhidharma, Dogen, Milarepa, Meister Eckhart, Hafiz, Rumi, Hildegaard, and many others.
It requires Great Courage (or Great Foolishness!) to invite this flowering of Spirit in our human life. This flood which will break all dams and levees. And the reward is a possibly fuller and richer manifestation of Spirit in our human life, and a continual surprising of even ourselves.
How this human self is put together
I suspect that this too depends somewhat on how our particular human self is put together.
If it is already somewhat reckless, a sucker for freshness and newness, relentlessly curious by nature, or dedicated to truth and authenticity, then this flowering is more likely to be one that goes beyond any and all boundaries.
If more traditional and conventional by nature, the flowering may fall more neatly within the expectations of culture and tradition, and maybe even our old identity.
Again, there is nothing wrong in either of these, and there is certainly room for both. If we were all reckless iconoclasts, little would be left of tradition and the accumulated experience and wisdom embodied there. If we were all traditionalists, there would be little freshness, innovation and adaption to new and changing settings and circumstances.
Equally important, some human selves – such as this one, has an affiliation to and resonate with the innovators. Others, with the traditionalists. And we all find our interest drawn to one or the other at various times, and maybe even both.
(As I write this, I see that I started out closer to what I heard Adyashanti briefly say, and then go into further differentiation on my own. It shifts as I write, which is why I do it – to explore and clarify it on my own.)
When I look at it for myself, it seems that the flowering of Spirit can certainly be full and rich in either case. One is not necessarily more full or rich, or more important, than the other. They complement each other. They are both equally needed. They can both be a flowering of Spirit in a fresh way, whether within the general boundaries of tradition and culture or not.
The one boundary which the flowering do need to break out of is that of our old identity. This is the one that can restrict it. Sometimes, it is possible to break out of our own identity and still function within the general boundaries of tradition and culture. Other times, it may lead us to go beyond and break free from these boundaries. And this can happen in more or less obvious and dramatic ways.
So there is awakening, realized selflessness, which is independent of the particulars of the content, including this human self. And there is Self-Realization and the flowering of Spirit, which is all about content – about the life and maturing of this human self.
And this flowering of Spirit relates to the imaginary boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations in two ways.
First, there is the realization of freedom from any boundaries of tradition, culture, identity and expectations, and the flowering of Spirit beyond and independent of these.
Then, there is the expression of this, how it is lived in the world. Here, it can be aligned with and mostly within the boundaries of tradition and culture, and may even appear to be mostly within the boundaries of the old identity (although most likely not). Or it can obviously and clearly be expressed free from and independent of any and all of these boundaries.
In the realization of freedom from boundaries, there is also the freedom to express it within or free from these boundaries. And that depends on how this human self is put together, the situation, what seems most helpful to others, and so on. It will change with changing circumstances.