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Tag Archives: life purpose

Celebrating the Path of Spiritual Freedom

be free

Today as we celebrate our political freedom, let us also pay homage to our spiritual liberties.

We have the freedom to empower ourselves and let go of energies that do not serve us. How about the freedom to feel well and to be happy?  And there is the freedom to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.  We are gifted spiritual independence to create all of these things.

 The most important question in spiritual life is not: ‘Are you happy?’ but ‘Are you free?’ – Thomas Merton

Spiritual freedom is seeking God on your own terms and releasing any bonds that cause you to live in way that is not true to yourself, that is fear-based, restrictive or narrow minded.  It’s the ability to think for yourself without guilt, to question everything, to see one’s greatness and not allow small minds to change our perspective.  Being free is seeing the endless sea of possibilities as we journey towards seeking our life purpose.

Our sense of freedom and our commitment to liberation are connected to, and enhanced by, following our own path, and our ability to develop and maintain our own inner resilience. We follow our own spiritual journey, in part, to develop this: the ability to free ourselves and to strengthen ourselves. We put this practice into action every day.

We were are here to seek meaning and find answers as individuals.  In that respect, spiritual freedom also means that you allow others the freedom to make their own choices, even if those choices seem foreign to you.

As Americans, we embody multiple layers of freedom.  May you tap into all of those layers with gratitude today. here’s one of our favorite quotes on freedom, from author and activist Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Happy 4th of July to all!  Let all of our freedoms ring!

If you liked this article, you will enjoy: “Cut the Cords: Freedom is Waiting”. 

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Chop Wood Carry Water: Cultivating Love in Our Labor

Growing up in an ever-progressing millennium, I deeply absorbed the sentiment that I could be somebody.

As the previous few generations had slaved away for our stability and security, I now had the opportunity, nay the duty, to forge ahead to embody my ultimate self. For the vast majority of my life, I misconstrued this gift as an obligation to attain success in my professional field.

This obligation consequently plagued my life with the tension of adhering to an ideal that continuously evaded my reach.

Transitioning out of a scholastic experience into the ‘real world’, I felt disconcerted to land in an entry-level administrative job that I resented. For years I struggled to identify myself as an artist while making ends meet, by means that seemed below me and that felt soul sucking. After dedication to a productive spiritual practice and some humbling time without employment, I have since learned to reorient my privileged expectations to the understanding that work spans a broader scope than I had ever previously conceived. I began to question the extremes I had limited myself to as either a dissatisfied, mindless automaton or a fulfilled, praised master. It became increasingly clear that these categories existed as a limited, two-dimensional approach to work.

I have come to find my work is not my J.O.B.; my work is not the tasks for which I am paid. My work is to be of service to the best of my capacity and gifts. The amazing thing is, I can do that work just as well in a daily routine as I can with my creative talents. I am here on this planet to refine myself so that I can be kind, and giving and good-hearted to everyone I encounter. I am here to evolve into a realized, integrated being in harmony with her nature. I do that work every day, all day, whether I am being paid for it or whether I am out with my friends or am alone at home. I do that work because it reflects the progress I make with my inner balance.

A popular concept from Zen Buddhism notes, “Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.” This prescription implies that the physical work, the mundane, continues in tandem with our spiritual work. I am struck by the simplicity and routine the saying offers.

The bottom line is that we have one very basic need that we can readily provide for ourselves: nourishment. While how we nourish ourselves manifests in various ways in terms of what we intake and surround ourselves with, and as we grow in personal integrity, the unnecessary continually sheds. And as the inclination towards a specific and preconceived outcome wanes, simplicity offers a rewarding alternative. I have found surprising satisfaction in the duty of providing for myself and of bringing joy and ease to all the logistical aspects that life entails.

Another humbling perspective came from Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, which coincidentally showed up on my doorstep last year in a particularly stagnant period. The section On Work sunk right to the core:

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labor a misfortune.

But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,

And in keeping yourself with labor you are in truth loving life,

And to love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “he who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is a nobler than he who ploughs the soil.

And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”

But I say, not in sleep but in the over-wakefulness of noontide that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;

And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.

I am humbled and grateful to continue unearthing the truth in these words in my daily development. The labor that I have rejected was indeed the cure to my dissatisfaction. Though it is tempting to identify with form of labor, content trumps this tendency as love infuses all activity.

The deeper my spiritual practice goes, the more my head and heart steep in subtle preoccupation. I find myself amazingly more attentive and detailed with my work, despite the immersion of my experience in spiritual reflection.

The predicament of job dissatisfaction may not be unfounded in our society, as the nature of our labor continues to change. Its cure, however, I have found to lie less in “living the dream” as much as in cultivating Reality.  Let us continue cultivating the love that makes all labor, irrespective of form, a blessed duty whereby we serve our purpose from the love it is our true heritage to cultivate.

If you enjoyed this article, you will also appreciate the awesome insights offered by Alan Watts in this amazing video and article .  

Guest Columnist: Emma Hawley
Since childhood, Emma Hawley has always asked the “million dollar questions.” She grew up in a family of thinkers and always found her comfort zone outside the box. Since graduating valedictorian of her class at UCLA,  she has found her footing in Los Angeles’  wealth of consciously oriented communities. Emma’s respite is in her daily Sahaj Marg sadhana: a form simplified of raja yoga meaning “Natural Path,” that has vastly transformed her inner world. Check out some of her musings on her personal blog, Spark in the Husk. Catch her tweets at @sparkinthehusk.

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