“You are among the first humans to have the time, freedom, and resources to explore the self, the soul, personal creativity, and the beauty of nature.
Excerpt from Lesson 7 of The Easy Way to Enlightenment.
Yesterday at work I tagged along with Anna and Hilde, two of my favorite gals at work, for a morning cuppa. Slightly intruding on their morning ritual, I listened as they recounted their weekends. Hilde, had spent her Sunday evening listening to a radio interview with the Hungarian philosopher Agnes Heller. In this interview, Heller told of standing in a line-up on the Danube at the age of 15 to be shot by the Nazis. For some reason, she was told she was to be shot the next day. The Russians arrived and Heller survived.
Anna continued along the same lines telling us about watching “12 Years a Slave,” a movie about a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery.
We all sighed and asked the obvious question, "How could this possibly happen?"
Later that day, I reflected on the conversation and asked myself the less obvious question, "Why is this not happening to me now?"
The answer: because
I am free.
I don't mean free in the psychological or spiritual sense.
I mean free in a political, religious, and social sense.
If you are reading this, you probably enjoy a high level of political and religious freedom. freedomhouse.org assesses 45% of all countries as free, up from 34% in 1986. But, the statistics also show that freedom is losing ground.
On the sidewalks of Frankfurt, there are gold plates to remember the Jews who were taken from their homes and deported to camps. As I stroll over them, I realize that I can only be a light-hearted, yoga-mat-toting, modern spiritual practitioner and self-development junkie because I live in a free nation.
But why is political, religious, and social freedom so important to people who love self-development and modern spirituality?
1. You can explore your truth.
Today, at this moment, you are not at great risk of being shot by your government. You are not likely to be sold into slavery by conmen. No religious leader has the right to threaten you or your family for not conforming. From this place of safety, you can explore, access, and experiment with the wealth of knowledge available on health, psychology, faith, religion, and spirituality. Your life is not about surviving, but about thriving. You can explore your truth.
2. You can apply your creativity.
Living in Europe, I know many people who grew up in the totalitarian regimes of Eastern Europe. They could not choose where or what they studied. Their path depended on many factors including their parent's obedience to the communist party.
Can you imagine that? Sense into how it would have felt to have your government intervene in your choice of career. Maybe your parents held you back. Maybe you didn't have much money. But, unless you did grow up in Eastern Europe before 1990, your government did not intrude into your life.
You are free to create your life - totally! So, who do you want to be? How do you take advantage of your freedom? You can apply your creativity to find out!
3. You can serve.
I believe that if you are exploring self-development and modern spirituality, the you are here to serve freedom at all levels. Not just inner freedom, but also outer freedom.
One question I always ask myself is, "how am I serving freedom?" In addition to my self-development and spiritual practices, I challenge myself to somehow serve the community. Most recently my personal challenge meant becoming a youth mentor. I also donate coaching-time and money to non-profits and causes that support my values.
In The Easy Way to Enlightenment, I challenge you in Lesson 7 to find your contribution to the planet Earth.
I offer to you the following questions to reflect on the role political, religious, and social freedom play in your life
- What is your country's history of freedom?
- What is your personal and family history of religious freedom?
- What is your personal and family history of social freedom? (An example of social freedom: Jane falls in love with Jim, who has different political views. They get married and tolerate each others diverting views.)
- How do all these kinds of freedom come together so that you can purse your personal self-development an spiritual path?
- How do you serve inner and outer freedom?