How to Find Spiritual Freedom

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What is the goal of the spiritual path?

Freedom.

Spiritual freedom is freedom from suffering caused by the ego. It is freedom from the suffering of the untrained instinctual body we all inhabit. It is the freedom and ability to see reality. It is the freedom to choose how we engage with reality based on the present moment rather than previous unconscious beliefs and associations.

This spiritual freedom is powerful beyond anything most people can imagine, and it is always right here within us. Yet, people don't see it or know what it is.

So I wanted to dedicate today's blog post to what spiritual freedom is and the path that is taken to help people abide in that pure space.

Self-inquiry and the Journey Towards Spiritual Freedom

People believe most everything their egos tell them, and so inquiring into thoughts and beliefs is the beginning of the spiritual journey. It has to be done. So long as a person believes all their thoughts and beliefs are correct, then they are in a trap. Spiritual freedom is not a belief to believed; it is a reality.

Even getting started inquiring into the ego can be tough too, since the unconscious ego is the ultimate insider. It pulls all the strings for most people for most if not all of their lives. We're so used to believing our thoughts and thinking that they belong to us that we unquestioningly accept just about any and every kind of thought in our own heads. However, we don't usually accept everything other people tell us, and honestly, we need to learn to not do it with ourselves.

This level of getting to know oneself is very much the start of the spiritual path, and this inquiry is part of cultivating self-knowledge so that one can identify what freedom even is. Without some mental understanding of it, people are easily distracted by the next belief or feeling that runs through them. Discipline and practice tend to be vital in doing inquiry as a person runs up against hidden pains and fears.

If you are new to the spiritual path, please jump over to this spiritual blog post:

How to Start Your Spiritual Journey

You may also want to check out my ebook:

Everyday Spirituality: Cultivating an Awakening

Going Beyond Beliefs Into the Heart of the Matter

However, the mind is not the only level of inquiry. People also have to learn to honor their hearts, and any issues that remain in their "emotional body" will continue to dictate how they feel about themselves and what they want. To be clear, most people want to feel good, and the heart is a locus of emotional well-being. While I am generally speaking of the heart metaphorically, for some reason, people tend to feel a lot of emotions in the actual physical area of the chest. Maybe there are some interesting glands in there that produce certain chemicals that we call emotions. I don't know. I'm not a physiological expert. I simply know that when it comes to the heart, people tend to have all sorts of emotions come up and out of that region of the body.

As those emotions come up, the spiritual path gets even more challenging for people. The idea that the spiritual path should take away pain gets triggered. By that I mean, that a lot of people are seeking a way out of pain, but instead, the true spiritual path takes them into it. For awhile, a lot of people buy-in to the spiritual journey because a lot of pain doesn't need to stay inside someone. It is just stuck energy. So those pains release. We tend to feel a whole heck of a lot better after they go.

Yet, the further you go, the more you see that pain keeps showing up in life. Pain doesn't go away. It's a fundamental part of human life, and it's a discovery like this where some people start to feel cheated and want out of this whole spiritual thing.

Separating the Ideas of Pain and Suffering

A huge problem on the path to freedom from suffering is the confusion many people have about pain and suffering. Most people want pain to be gone too, but pain is part of this world. When it is functioning appropriately, it is a useful physical communication tool. For example, you stub your toe. You feel pain in your toe. That calls your attention to your foot. Now you can address the toe and change your behavior to not hurt it again. Without the pain, you could do a lot of damage to different parts of your body without knowing it.

Suffering is getting upset about stubbing the toe. It is getting angry at yourself, the wall your foot struck, or something else. The response to the stubbed toe is entirely ego determined; it'll be different depending on the person. But more importantly, the response is entirely unnecessary. You don't have to be upset. But most people are upset because they are so enmeshed in their ego that it doesn't even occur to them that they can choose and actually are choosing their responses in those moments, albeit the choice is entirely unconscious.

Choosing the Conscious Spiritual Path

A First Taste of Spiritual Freedom

For many people, they get a taste of spiritual freedom in the form of some kind of peaceful spiritual opening. The first glimpse isn't usually a spiritual awakening when the inner world starts moving and transforming on its own. That big earthquake tends to be quite rare. Instead, this taste or multiple tastes are like fore-shocks of realizing spiritual freedom, and they can inspire people to investigate the spiritual path. Do they feel good? Sometimes. It depends on what someone discovers and how much of their ego is along for the ride. If a person likes what they discover, they can feel good. But that feeling is still a kind of ego response for the most part. Sometimes, that good feeling is the relief of leaving the ego self for awhile. It can be like dropping a heavy backpack you did not know you were carrying. Eventually, you get used to not carrying it, and so you no longer feel good in the way you once did. In this regard, people normalize into openness and spiritual freedom.

Other times, that first taste is scary. Once again, this has to do with the person's ego interpretation and reaction to the experience. For example, someone could drop into this space of presence, and that can feel like they are someone else. They suddenly can see their ego thoughts from a place of profound neutrality, and this frightens some people. Or the fright comes until after the experience when the ego comes back, saying, "What in creation was that?!" This sense of not being who you thought you were can really freak someone out if they are not prepared for such an experience, and many aren't. Ultimately, however, there is no danger, no danger to the real you anyway.

Recording: Presence and Moments of Awakeness

Realizing Presence and the Comfortable Cage

The beauty of presence, which is another term for spiritual freedom, is that it is always here. It is the perceiver of all of life. It is. It is never chained to the ego, and it is not restricted in how it can respond to life even as freaked out as the human body can get. It simply sees. It is this spiritual freedom to which everyone has access. There's no technique or belief that is needed to get there because it is always here.

The simplicity of this reality tends to be too much for a lot of unconscious egos. In fact, complexity is part of how the ego keeps itself around. It uses complexity to keep people enslaved to it and the beliefs the ego is maintaining. It also uses coercion, fear, bartering, threats, and a whole host of other nasty defense mechanisms to keep people mired in their unconscious selves. But none of them help a person to find spiritual freedom. They simply keep a person locked up in suffering, including comfortable suffering.

How the Ego Protects Its Many Stories (And Why this Is a Big Problem)

This last comment about comfortable suffering will probably surprise a lot of you, but those of you who have done enough inner work know that we can live comfortable lives and still suffer. We can suffer from illusions that cause us to respond to life poorly. We can suffer in the cage of having everything we could ever desire, but there is no vitality to our lives Every external world joy or happiness dissipates, and many pleasures lose their enjoyable qualities in time. People in these comfortable cages know it on some level, yet they get stuck chasing after sex, money, drugs, adrenaline highs, and so much more because that's all their egos understand. These people can feel the suffering, but since it isn't painful enough, they don't think there is anything truly wrong. And they try to keep using all the old stuff that is supposed to make them happy even though a lot of it continues to become more bland and lifeless. All the while, they stay in the cage.

Breaking Out of the Cage

The drive to break out of the cage--comfortable or not--has to be sufficiently strong for the person to be willing to face the discomfort they live in within themselves. There's a kind of inner friction of stepping away from beliefs and learning to be in the place of true freedom. This sloughing off is not enjoyable. It is necessary, however, and it can take years for many people.

To be clear, that friction is not from presence. The friction is from the aspiration to be free and the desire to stay attached. On some level, an ego aspiration to change oneself is necessary. Ego is, after all, not bad; it is just a tool. Since so much energy has been poured into attachments, trying to break those attachments can be intense, and there has to be some level of conscious choice to stay with the discomfort and friction long enough for it to dissolve and disappear. This may be someone's first truly conscious choice.

Facing Discomfort on the Spiritual Path

What's more--and many of my awakened students know this--the intensity isn't limited to the mind. It reaches into the heart, body, and energy fields. Every level that has been bounded up and blocked must be cleared and opened for the human body to align with true spiritual freedom.

But is that what you really want?

The spiritual path will test you again and again because many people are attempting to still be an ego and get life to go according to their beliefs. They think a spiritual belief system will get what they desire, and they try to use the concept of spiritual freedom to serve the unconscious ego cravings and fears. However, the deeper you go, the more you realize that no human belief system can fully encapsulate life and these ulterior ego motives are part of the problem. Beliefs are very limited in their usefulness. Most are useless, and others are outright toxic. That said, they can be released, and the human body, heart, mind, and energy all must transform into their natural flowing state by breaking out of this ego cage.

More Tastes of Spiritual Freedom and Harder Attachments

Again and again, I want to emphasize that true spiritual freedom is always here. Simply go to that space that silently observes within yourself. That's it.

But then see how long you stay there. How long before you leave? How long is it before you are caught up in a body sensation? Or running out to play with an old thought? See what happens when your mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or your child comes home bloodied from a fist fight she lost. See what happens then and how quickly you give up freedom for another set of beliefs and a host of unconscious actions.

To be sure, life is not going to play nice, and it never really was nice. It simply is life. But when it is particularly triggering, those difficulties reveal where your attachments are still clinging the hardest and where you are in your spiritual development. Those are the moments when you really need to come back to presence to endure your ego reactions. If you do return to freedom in the most triggering moments, breakthroughs occur. Something lets go deeper, and more tastes of freedom arise.

Giving Up More and Getting Less

To truly transform the heart, body, mind, and energy into a human being that reflects the true spiritual freedom of the observer tends to mean giving up more and more. It's not the things and relationships that matter as much as the ideas and attachments that are surrendered. Many people who come to this blog have given up relationships and jobs, but very few have given up the attachments to having relationships and jobs. In this way, their surrender is incomplete. They need to give up more. If you are lucky and have a powerful awakening, perhaps the Divine will stay insistent that you give them up. Perhaps, God's boot heal will step down a little harder and firmer to break through your resistance. In those moments, people don't realize how much grace has come, particularly those who thought the spiritual path would free them from pain.

In return, you get less. The further you go, the less ego there is and fewer beliefs, fears, and desires. You don't necessarily even get more realizations. You usually just better understand the ones you've discovered earlier. In fact, those realizations tend to matter less and less to the present moment. What more needs to be realized than that you are here now? The unconscious ego self thinks that a bunch of ideas and experiences will get you what you want, but it knows nothing. And it's what is being given up. So you will have much less ego than before. This lessening of the load, however, is a true gift. It reveals the freedom that was already within you.

Giving Up Something You Don't Want to Give Up

Going Within Again and Again

The human being and body are trained to look at externally for support. This is actually quite biological. The body needs external resources to survive. It needs food, water, and air. This is fundamental to the body, and the ego is a slave to the body. Never forget that the ego is just a pile of neurons and synapses layered on to the most primitive of instincts. Human instincts focus on individual survival and species survival, and therefore, the ego is focused on those two main goals. Going within illuminates this reality...eventually.

Initially, most people have rarely delved through all their ego issues to see how they tie in to the survival goals of the primitive body. That's yet another reason people have to keep going back to the space of presence. The longer someone observes themselves and how they work from the inside, the more they see this reality.

Again and again, people have to want to see that reality. They have to want to be with the discomfort that they cause themselves through fears, desires, and other illusions. They have to want to deal with the often extremely physical pain of transforming the body and breaking primal instincts that seek outside oneself for support. They have to truly want to be free because the human body and the unconscious ego will not transform themselves. The inertia of millennia of body evolution and the inertia of the ego inhibit transformation. Even with an awakening pushing someone, this inertia is profoundly powerful and difficult to fully overcome.

But it can be fully overcome.

The 2 Pillars of the Ego and Human Animal Body

Total Enlightenment and Complete Awakening

It is truly a rare being who comes to total enlightenment. I don't talk much about it because it sounds like a goal rather than a reality people come to rest in. Yes, we are always in true spiritual freedom and total enlightenment. That's the beauty of that space of presence. It's always there and shows the human self the way to transform. But for the human being to fully transmute all unconscious patterns and be totally unattached to body sensations, emotions, thoughts, and energetic connections...that is a profound undertaking. It is rare to find someone resting in that space, but don't be fooled by the idea of rareness. Don't take it to mean you won't rest there one day. If the whole of humanity's one goal was to cultivate total enlightenment, then this state of total non-attachment would probably be realized by thousands or millions of people.

So when I say rare, think, "Most people don't even try." Think, "Most people don't even know this is possible." But now you do know if you did not already. And if you are reading this post today, you are being guided inward back to that space of pure freedom that is always within you. It is tasteless, soundless, changeless, and totally present all the time. Go there, and let that presence inspire you and your energetic being to create a funeral pyre to burn up all ego and all attachments so that you can be totally, spiritually free.