Obligolnian Strivings: Week Eight of Inner Task Series by Heather Ruce

This week we will stay with the Fourth Striving: the striving, from the beginning of one’s existence, to pay as quickly as possible for one’s arising and individuality, in order to be free afterward to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of our Common Father/Mother/Creator.

Let us consider the kind of freedom required in order that afterward we are able to lighten as much as possible the sorrow of God. Thomas Merton and Cynthia have spoken about this kind of freedom as “spontaneity freedom” and to really grasp it, it is helpful to first begin to see what we typically consider freedom to mean. Most North Americans (and I know this is not everyone, and I also know many who are reading this from other parts of the world may have other culturally expressed notions of freedom, so I invite any observations about the typical notions of freedom in your cultural milieus) consider freedom to be freedom of choice or “choice freedom.” In her Freedom From Living Presence Transcript 4 (Oct 1999 –13 Nov 2003 Victoria, BC), Cynthia says, “‘Choice freedom’ means that somehow you acquire the means in your life so that you have a lot of choices at your disposal and you exercise your freedom by choosing… And we try and work in such a way in life so that we develop the means to make choices.”

But the freedom spoken about in this striving, and in fact all spiritual paths, is not that kind of freedom. She goes on, “Because that kind of “choice freedom” in terms of the spiritual work is what we would call freedom of the personality or freedom at the level of the personality – freedom to express and fulfill whatever our personality wants.

And the core teaching of the spiritual paths… is that the freedom of the personality is never freedom; in fact, it’s the prison. And as long as we are enslaved to our personality we can never be more than slaves. There is no freedom when we are constantly saying, “I need, I want, I have to have.” This only shores up our sense of irredeemable anxiety… We all have that kind of root anxiety at the base of our being and we can’t always articulate what’s causing it, and we’re not even consciously aware all the time that we’re acting out of it. But when our identity is seated at the level of that egoic functioning or the personality, it is always in company with this vague anxiety, this vague sense of emptiness and lack, and this vague kind of either fear or anger depending on which is your temperament – either fear that you can never get enough and that it’s all going to go wrong and it’s all going to be lost or the anger that I have been cheated by life. That, according to all spiritual teaching, is captivity, is slavery.”

Thus, the freedom embodied in this striving, and “for which we long is a freedom which allows us to be present in the moment without demands or expectations or any needing for things to go one way as opposed to going another way. It is a freedom that has no insistence in it. This freedom is connected to an abundance that flows to us from an unstinting Source of grace which is Being itself. It is an ability to connect with that, to replenish ourselves in it and therefore, to have no needs or demands in the physical world. In this freedom we can use the physical world as a way of manifesting the dance of abundance rather than trying to turn it upside down like that little empty piggy bank to squeeze out the last penny of what we think we’re owed.”

It is tempting to TRY not to have demands, expectations, or needs at the personality level but this will never do. We must feed ourselves from that abundance of flow pouring gratuitously from “an unstinting Source of grace which is Being itself.” Our task is to recognize that the taproot of our heart (to use James Finley’s words) is already and always connected with that Source, “to replenish ourselves in it” and from a fullness beyond this world, our “needs or demands in the physical world” naturally begin to diminish. Then the kind of freedom we long for is already there. We don’t have to MAKE it happen. We have all tasted this kind of freedom for which we desire to operate from more often. Consider what practices, small or large, aid you in stabilizing your nervous system in and drinking deeply from the unstinting Source of abundance throughout your day and let go into the possibility of this deeper sense of freedom.