MANILA, Philippines – Independence Day is a time-honored event in every free nation in celebration of the value of freedom — a deeply innate quality of the human spirit.
Countless revolutions and wars have been launched in the name of freedom; yet today, we still see many indicators of the lack of freedom in the world: the breakdown of societies under the shackles of poverty, hyper-consumerism, human violence and ecological exploitation, among others.
Is there a way out of the layers of bondage that peoples and cultures have experienced, seemingly since time immemorial?
Perhaps a shift in understanding the value of freedom is especially needed, now more than ever, if only to re-educate ourselves about how the presence of freedom can properly operate in the human individual.
One of the plaintive expressions of our “collective memory” of the innate freedom of the human being is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), written in 1948. Article 1 of the UDHR states our universal aspiration that is ensconced in the constitution of every nation that has fought for its own independence. This right to freedom belongs to anyone regardless of race, gender, creed, class or caste:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
In reality, our collective freedom is highly dependent on the level of freedom that each human being has realized in life. Freedom is not to be literally and simplistically taken as “Wanting to do as I please, whenever I please and however I please.” This is a very common notion, but when this unenlightened concept of freedom is used, chaos and anarchy rule.
Imagine a society where people do just whatever they like doing, not minding the laws of the land, or even the laws of nature. There will be total disregard for each other’s circumstances and contexts, moreso for nature’s condition. Think of it: this scenario sounds almost exactly like a slice of life from our everyday life today.
Freedom only becomes a value when it is balanced with responsibility. It is through the right use of freedom with responsibility that we can make choices guided by the human conscience, our natural moral compass that intuitively discerns right from wrong, good from bad. Because many have lost the art of listening to the voice of this inner authority — which is a subtle part of our being, our spiritual self — it has been often relegated to indifference and forgetting in our materially-driven world.
When we are always in touch with this innate spiritual compass, in moments of silence and contemplation, we will not even need strict law enforcement and organized dogmas or religions to incessantly remind us of what is right and wrong, true and false — whether in our “inner life” of thoughts, words, actions; or in our “outer world” of interactions.
When the human conscience is fully awake, discernment of right and wrong will be as natural as breathing. Actions will be according to the natural principles of life that once ruled the earth, without much interference.
Interference comes from the human ego. Ego is the “I” that has lost awareness of its non-physical dimension, the being of spirit. For as originally spiritual beings, we are filled with the fully liberating qualities of peace, love, truth, power and happiness.
As we look deeper into the human spirit, we will realize that real freedom is only possible when the human mind has become free from the limits of “I and mine,” this overbearing voice of the ego, our false sense of self that has over-identified with the physical appendages of name, possession, prestige, physical power and other material entitlements that we are really meant to enjoy — but only as responsible trustees.
When the human mind consciously and daily touches base with the original alchemy of its innate virtues, of peace, love and truth, real freedom can be a daily experience. It is a freedom from the shackles of negativity that we often call “anti-values” or “the vices of the spirit”: anger, lust, greed, attachment and ego.
In our ignorance of our original freedom and truth, we shift almost by default to the darkness of forgetting. We then begin to rob ourselves of our innate goodness and also rob others of their own. When we operate from vices, our own spiritual energy goes into a deep sleep of forgetfulness and we create the energy of creating loss and disharmony in others’ and our world.
We have forgotten how to awaken and exercise our noble birthright of virtues and values in the “world out there” only because we have not nurtured them in our consciousness of the “world in here.”
The integration and disintegration in the world starts with me.
When I begin to understand and use freedom in the light of the human conscience, I will only make choices that would bring benefit not only to myself but to the rest of humanity.
When I see each one as my equal, equally possessing all the timeless qualities of the human spirit, I will act with the full freedom to support the best of others’ gifts and qualities, rather than work against their realization.
I will make choices with great conscientiousness, rather than mindless inconsideration of others’ and the world’s needs and deepest aspirations.
This is freedom of the highest and truest kind. Spiritual people also call it liberation.
Freedom and liberation are not impossible ideals meant only in an afterlife, but very much also a reality that can be experienced in the world. We need only to be part of a critical mass of individuals willing to respond to the timeless echoes of freedom, those who will nurture within them the foundation of freedom: the liberating virtues and values of human life. – Rappler.com
Silhouette of woman on the sunset photo from Shutterstock
Talks on the spirit of Independence Day titled “Break Free from the Chain of Blame” will be held at the Brahma Kumaris Centers in Makati (890-7960), Manila (521-2015) and Quezon City (414-9421).
Rina Angela Corpus is a dedicated spiritual learner, studying and teaching Raja yoga meditation for the last 13 years. She has been teaching art studies and humanities at the University of the Philippines-Diliman for the last 10 years. You may visit her reflections on spirituality and culture at Dance of Stillness.