Infatuated with freedom


This is a follow-up to the mountains are mountains article. 

In an early awakening phase, whether it’s more stable or through glimpses, we can be infatuated with freedom. We have been released from an exclusive identification as a separate being. We have discovered all is consciousness, or love, or the divine. We have realized it’s all the divine appearing as all this, including for a little while taking itself to be a separate individual. We see that all conventions and ideas are mind and human-made and have no inherent truth or finality to them. 

So it’s natural to be somewhat infatuated with the freedom that seems to be here. We feel free from our old self-imposed and imagined constraints. 

We felt oppressed by the constraints, so now relish the freedom. 

Some current non-dual teachers tend to emphasize what we are and the freedom inherent in it. And that may be the right medicine for people still very much identifying as a separate individual. 

And it’s not the whole picture. It may look a bit different when we mature into it. It also looks a bit different if we have a different orientation going into it. If we have more of an orientation towards wholeness, inclusivity, and realness. 

I tend to prefer guides and coaches who acknowledge both what we are (what everything happens within and as) and who we are (as human beings), and the infinite complexity of the interactions between the two (which are really one). And who do so with honesty and realness, and prioritize the very human messiness of the process over how it “should” look. 

Some of the ones I have found and resonate with are the ones I write about or quote from in these articles…. Byron Katie, Adyashanti, Douglas Harding, Bonnie Greenwell, Jeff Foster, Matt Licata, Hameed Ali, and many others. 

I know this post is a little black-and-white and can seem a little harsh. I notice an impatience in me sometimes when spiritual teachers emphasize the what-we-are side over the human or the interactions between the two. It can seem too idealized, or a bit immature, or even a bit misguided or misguiding.

Of course, it can be a nice carrot to get people hooked. And there is nothing inherently wrong in it. And at some point, we need to get more real. 

Be real, not nice

There is a good book called Be Real, Not Nice, and it’s a topic that’s especially important for us who score high on the agreeableness scale (on the Big Five personality traits). I am still “nice” more than I like, in the sense of sometimes being overly polite, self-effacing, not speaking up, avoiding rocking the boat, follow other people’s advice even when it goes against my own best judgment. This means I sometimes don’t get what I want. (Even if I could have, if I had been more clear and spoken up.) And it also means that I sometimes go into resentment. It’s as if the energy that should have gone into being clear and speaking up is unused in that situation, and then later goes into forms of anger or irritation directed towards myself and/or others. The intention behind all this is partly to be kind, polite, and well-liked, and also to avoid confrontation and unpleasant interactions. And the reality is that the opposite often happens: I – and sometimes others – don’t get what we want, and are unhappy about the situation. It’s really anything but kind. And it all comes from unquestioned assumptions, and probably unloved parts of myself. For instance unloved and unquestioned fear about what it means to speak up, negotiate, and risk not being liked. (Of course, people who are clear and speak up, and are willing to negotiate about strategies so everyone can have their needs met, are often well liked.) Ironically, what I seek to avoid by not being clear and real with myself and others is exactly what I get. That’s how it often is. It’s how life shows me what I am doing, and invites me to meet my fears and be clear and real with myself and others. It’s how life invites me to be more transparent. To speak up about what’s already here. To go for what I want, through finding strategies that meets my own needs and – ideally – those of others. Seeing this in a general way is a start. But what really helps is to really look at a specific situation in my life where I “left myself” and felt resentful afterwards. Why did I do it? What did I fear would happen if I spoke up and was transparent? What were the consequences? What would have been the likely consequences of speaking up?