Spiritual awakening is often described as the discovery of a boundless inner freedom. But what does spiritual freedom really mean and what are we actually becoming free from? Is it possible to reach some kind of final endpoint where we are completely free from everything? In this Q&A, Craig explores the path and practice of spiritual liberation and what it takes to live a life that expresses the limitless freedom of spiritual awakening.
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You’ve said that spiritual awakening is the discovery of a profound inner freedom. But freedom from what? I already feel free of expectations, other people’s grasping, and emotional entanglements. Is there a greater freedom that I’m missing?
Of course, I don’t know everything about you and your life, but it’s certainly possible that there might be another freedom that you’re missing. Let’s put it this way. All the freedoms that you described are good. It’s good to feel free from emotional entanglement and from expectations. That’s a certain freedom from a kind of worldly entanglement. But there are other layers and levels of spiritual freedom beyond that.
The great freedom of spiritual awakening includes a liberation from self-concern. It’s a liberation from the inner narrative of the self—the inner story of the self that the mind makes up. It’s liberation from needing to know who you are. It’s liberation from fear and contraction. It’s freedom from enslavement to our emotional reactivity, which is deeply conditioned. It’s freedom from reaction. It’s freedom from ego.
The kind of freedom I’m pointing to involves becoming disentangled from the whole web of the human condition so that we can respond to life in a way that is uninhibited.
If you’re experiencing what I just described, then maybe there’s not another level of freedom. But even if that’s the case, I think it’s better not to assume that’s the end. You can always inquire more deeply into whether there is an even greater level of freedom you can reach toward.
We should always live as though there might be a much greater consciousness than the one we’re currently experiencing. I don’t mean this as a way of imposing a sense of lack onto what’s happening now. It’s just that I think we should always remain open to the possibilities of what might be and never assume that we’ve reached the end or achieved the goal. There’s never a point where you’re like, “Oh, I got this.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s an ever growing humility in the face of a mystery that our mind can’t comprehend. We can only gain deeper and deeper reverence for that mystery and let it guide us wherever it does.