Have you ever thought about what true freedom really means? The Buddha once said that his teachings were not just a philosophy, but the result of direct experience. He believed that his teachings were a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship.
But what did he mean by liberation? I think he was talking about a freedom that can only be experienced through personal practice. It's the freedom from added suffering that comes from grasping onto what makes us feel good and pushing away what's uncomfortable or painful. It's the freedom from wanting this moment to be different than it is and from believing that we need to be someone else in another place, time, or relationship to be happy.
I know it's easier said than done. Achieving this kind of freedom requires inner work, and that can be messy, dark, and painful at times. But it's worth it. Making space for and exploring new ways of relating to ourselves and others can be freeing.
Meditation is a great way to start this process, but it's just the beginning. The most transformational part of it might be choosing to remain aware day after day, moment after moment, incorporating what we discover through practice into our lives. This means aligning our actions with our deepest values, acknowledging the impact that we have on the world and the lives of others.
By practicing meditation, we can free ourselves from unskillful behavior. We can train our minds to stop clinging to what we want and pushing away what we don't want. By observing the true nature of impermanence, we can learn to accept and allow all experiences to complete their cycles, liberating ourselves from the resistance that gives rise to so much suffering.
To be truly free, we also need to become aware of the conceptual truths that permeate our narratives, both personal and collective. We must challenge these truths and ask ourselves how they might be leading us to beliefs that are limiting, imprisoning, and destructive. Uncovering our true selves from these constructs leads to the path of radical acceptance of who we are as a whole. When we can fully accept ourselves, we can extend that openness to others. That is the highest form of love.
We uncover freedom not because someone told us what it is, but because we have experienced it ourselves. So, in your journey of crossing the river, can you let go of the weight of the narratives you've learned to carry? Can you reassess your relationship with your feelings and emotions? Can you ask yourself what you are not welcoming in for fear of being unworthy or shameful? And what is it that you are seeking to feel?
Today, I encourage you to think about freedom in this way. I invite you to offer this type of love to the people in your life, to strangers, and to yourself. Love freely, and love fully.