5 Misunderstandings About Spiritual Freedom

High desert, sagebrush, mountains
Spiritual freedom is often badly misunderstood, so I wanted to talk about some common misconceptions about it in today's blog post.

A bonus misconception that I'll add is that many people think that one singular spiritual moment will immediately dissolve all their ego forever, but that's not typically how it is. Thus, spiritual awakening has been misunderstood as one of those singular moments, but it is only a starting point on the path to spiritual freedom.  It's best to look go of the search for that ONE moment to fix/change everything.

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1 You Can Do Whatever You Want

This is a common misconception about freedom, and it's one of the ones that is technically true, but practically useless. 

Yes. In freedom, we can do anything. But practically speaking, the ego and the spiritual ego love to use this idea as an excuse to indulge in any desire and fantasy they have. It's a totally different thing to be free of the ego that wants to do whatever it has been conditioned to do. In that space, actions arise naturally, not unconsciously or instinctively.


2 You Don't Have to Do Anything to Realize Freedom

Here's another misunderstanding that is technically true, but practically useless. Yes, we are all already free, and there is nothing to do to achieve spiritual freedom. However...

What we fail to acknowledge is that we are DOING all kinds of things all the time. From the moment you wake up, you are unconsciously remembering a vast story about who you are, what you do, what to pay attention to, what is important, and so forth. You remember this story so completely and quickly, that you don't know what you are doing. To decide that you have nothing to do to realize freedom from this state just means you will keep acting out your unconscious ego story. That's why inner work is so important, and spiritual inner work is about UNDOING things. 

Think of the ego like a piece of knotted yarn that we pick apart. As we pick it apart, it comes back to its natural shape, at which point the need to do anything falls away. Inner work is the same. As we dissolve attachments to issues, the spiritual tool that has helped us us is no longer necessary. It gets put aside. This is what it is like to do inner work to help us realize spiritual freedom.


3 You Will Feel Free

We often look for feelings to tell us how we are doing in life, but the freedom of resting as awareness is beyond all feelings. It Is. 

Feeling free is an ego decision and a body experience that we like. So if you're waiting to "feel" free, let that go. Whatever you are feeling is what you are feeling. Come back to witnessing your feelings from awareness instead.


4 Spiritual Freedom Takes a Long Time and a Lot of Work

No. Spiritual freedom is here now. Time and work actually don't have anything to do with it. 

The amount of time and work needed have everything to do with individual resistance and sincerity. The insincere seeker tends to build more ego, and then needs even more time and work to unbuild their spiritual ego. The more someone resists reality, the longer it takes to acknowledge it.

Truly, spiritual freedom can be realized NOW. The amount of time and work will vary for each person.


5 Spiritual Freedom Gives You Everything You Want

This one is one of the most common beliefs about spiritual paths. People often use different spiritual paths as wishing wells in hopes of being given all the soulmates, sex, money, homes, friendships, gadgets, toys, cars, adventures, trips, health, excitement, and whatever else they think they want. Some paths even try to give these things to people. Those of us on the path to spiritual freedom, however, only point you to reality and how to surrender to reality. Reality doesn't give you everything you want. Reality can be quite harsh.

Additionally, this last misconception is often also a product of increasingly entitled and selfish people who don't realized how much they have. Look around you. How much of the stuff in your life did you mine, gather, grow, build, construct, sew, etc.? It's mostly all been created for you. One prominent example to me is the miracle of indoor plumbing. There are so many systems in place that allow us to not have to deal with poop!

I point these things out because most Westerners already have a ridiculous amount of stuff that no other human beings have ever had, and yet it isn't enough for the Western Ego. And this ego carries its entitlement into the spiritual path.

Well, spiritual freedom gives you nothing, and this last point is why so many spiritual seekers fail. They are seeking something. But the sincere spiritual people find on this path the joy of not wanting far outweighs getting more.


For more help on common spiritual misunderstandings, please check out these blog posts:


Comments

  1. A very helpful piece, thank you Jim!

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I'm a little confused about how you say reality can be quite harsh, as compared to some other things you've written. In a previous post, for example, you wrote that it's ridiculous that people feel upset after going through a breakup. How can we change how we feel if that's how we feel, though? Isn't feeling heartbroken after a relationship an example of reality being quite harsh? It's almost as if you want your students to feel bad about feeling bad about life events but also to accept that reality can be quite harsh - seems like a contradiction and I don't understand how to balance.

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    Replies
    1. Let's take a step back. Where do your emotions come from? They come from you. Do you get to choose your emotions or do they choose you? If you think that your emotions choose you and that you have no ability to change that, then you will suffer every break-up, every job loss, and everything else that your ego has been taught to get upset about. If you realize that you choose your emotions but have lost the ability to influence them, now you can surrender and go on the journey of reclaiming your emotional choices from your unconscious ego.

      There are harsh realities in life. They're things like famine and starvation. They're things like polio and the bubonic plague. These are the harsh realities I'm referring towards. How we emotionally respond to things is actually up to us, and the path to spiritual freedom liberates us from our unconscious suffering.

      Thanks for the question!

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  3. Your comparison of untangling the ego like a strand of yarn resonates so deeply with me. As a macrame artist I am super familiar with having to deal with unknotting strands upon strands of tangled up string. The trick to really untangling it is to find one strand and follow it back through the jumbled up mess to its source end, and the yarn will essentially untangle itself. The reason they get tangled in the first place is because I have dropped my awareness of them and so I can't catch them when they start to stray and twist because of my carelessly tossing them aside. Blindly trying to pull them loose will generally not get me very far and tends to only create tighter knots which are that much harder to untangle, especially if I choose to get frustrated about it. The cord didn't tangle itself, I did!

    Just a little thought.
    Thanks for the trip 😜

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad the metaphor of the thread and yarn works for you, Dani. :)

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