Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What is Liberation?

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

What I'm about to do now is to illustrate the impossible, which means I will fail. Still, I would like an attempt to visualize the grand liberation. What I cover here is by no means complete, and the pictures are just intended to make a point.

This first picture is a chart of the ordinary set of mind. We could call it 'reality as you know it', or perhaps simply 'you'. The mind of the normal person typically moves speedily and rather randomly between these things, and more. We go from worrying about one thing, to hoping for another, then we plan some thing, and dwell on memories of others. All these pictures, ideas, and thoughts (attachments) replace one another all through the day – a process which normally goes on for as long as we live.

Stress, which is so very common today, increases the speed and the weight of this “capsule” of our minds. All things seem utterly important, yet as attachment intensifies reality loses its vibrancy. The mind, we can say, smothers reality (as it is). To many people (perhaps most), this confinement of me is all they know. They are trapped in it, and fully dependent on it.

Liberation (salvation) is what comes into being when “you” happen to find yourself outside of the mind capsule. This is what the illustration below indicates. From a constant, busy, hard to balance, ping pong-like rush from one thing to another, you have somehow managed to let go. Yes, it can feel as if you actually let go of something physical, like a rock. Suddenly there is great spaciousness, peace, and a perfectly liberating freedom... from yourself. It is so clear you can almost look at it, much like you can behold a can of tuna. The confinement of you, with all its attributes, is there before you, and while you still have access to all this mind-stuff, you are now watching it restfully from infinity. Your senses still absorb the same physical reality, but the experience of being is altogether altered.

Full enlightenment would mean a permanent shift into, and complete re-identification with, free, infinite consciousness, but one can temporarily taste and acquaint Liberation at any point. The main reason for spiritual practice is not to glimpse or quickly touch this Kingdom, but to be able to remain there, when the gates open. Any fool (like me) can manage a quick encounter.

There are two main ways of discovering or entering Liberation (which partially or fully frees a person for life), and those are; forming the mind and having the mind formed.

The first way is activity – and is about making the mind calm enough to discover reality outside of it. When it no longer jumps here and there with great speed, we have a chance to actually see. This is done through techniques like meditation, yoga, silence, solitude, abstinence, charity and so on. Beliefs, which say that there is something more to reality, than the obvious, may help since the mind (perhaps through prayer) reaches out beyond itself for guidance and communion. Faith, regardless of belief, is of even greater value, since it puts absolute trust in whatever it is that holds life and reality together. Faith is to trust the Lord, whatever the Lord might be, and to know in the heart, that whatever brought this Universe into existence knows how to handle it. Faith is to give yourself fully to (completely relax into) God – ultimate reality.

The second way is passivity – which comes whether we wish to or not. Reality (life as we know it) has a nasty habit of crashing now and then. Pieces of the mind-puzzle suddenly disappears in unforeseeable accidents or undesirable diseases, for example. This creates a space, which is a window of opportunity in this case. When death, deafening change, or simple inactivity strikes, most of us are too eager to fill that gap with something new. Some people however come to see reality with sharper eyes when they experience loss, but only those who dare behold emptiness honestly for some time. Finally there is the mystery of God's being and light, which for reasons we cannot grasp, come to enter into some individuals when they least expect it. This, supposedly, is the most effective way to go beyond oneself, and to participate knowingly in His grace.

Only the first way can be practiced. The stillness achieved might look strange and perhaps even pointless from inside the capsule. However, daring to come back frequently to silence will inevitably (I dare say) make your head slip through that boundary which separates Earth from Heaven, and that experience, dear reader, is worth every hardship you have ever gone through, and many many more.
Blessed be the struggles of everyone. Freedom to the world!