Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obedience or Freedom? Some Questions...

I am a free person. Free in spirit, flesh, and soul. Free in mind and body. 

Yet, I follow a religion that teaches some extreme forms of obedience.

How can I make all of these statements and assert that they are all true? Is this possible?

When I did not follow a spiritual path I did not answer to anyone or any set of beliefs, laws, or guidelines, and I was not free. I was not free because in that manner of life, it is necessary to continuously adjust oneself to the actions and ideas of other people. But in choosing a spiritual path, then I had to push the people around me into second place.I became free of their demands. Yet, in obedience to that spiritual path, I must act out of charity and love, and so my own demands must be placed second to theirs....

What is a spiritual path? 

Well, this is really two questions:

What is a path?
A path is a well-worn track in the ground. It may have been made just by the habit of many people walking daily along the same trail or it may have been deliberately mapped out ahead of time and constructed by one person or a few people cutting through the overgrowth and smoothing out the stones, filling in the holes, and setting up signs to point out the direction of the path.

What is spiritual?
It is that which involves the "spirit" or the non-physical, unseen and intangible part of our bodies that carries the spark of life without which our minds cannot think and our hearts cannot beat.

A person who is not following a path is, of necessity, struggling against brambles and mudpits, trespassing on terrain owned by others, taking risks, and possibly getting lost. This is true in the physical world, where you can get in a lot of trouble if you try to drive off-road even if you have a good vehicle for the purpose. It is just as  true in the spiritual world where you can have experiences that are perplexing and overwhelming if you experiment with various tools or practices without knowing what they really are for and who really designed them. If you choose to go forward with no path, how can you be free of all the obstacles and confusion that will beset you in the wilderness? For even one who goes into the wilderness, in the physical world, must follow a set of rules in behavior in order to survive. Likewise in the spiritual, for the two worlds are entangled.

Here is a Scripture: Saint Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians,  Chapter 3, Verse 17: "Where the LORD is, there is liberty."

What does this mean?  What is the place referred to by the word "where" and who is the "LORD"?

There is a writer from the fourth century named Saint Augustine who wrote about "The City of God" but really was writing about two cities, the "City of Man" as well as the "City of God". This is the location to which Saint Paul is referring in 2Cor. 3:17, "The City of God". It is not a physical place, but it is a spiritual place. The "LORD" to whom he refers is the God of Abraham, Yahweh, the God of Moses, the one Jesus called "Father".  Recently my parish priest spoke about "Who" this LORD is. He pointed out that when Moses asked God what he should say when Pharoah asked him who was sending him to speak for the Israelites, God said "Tell him I AM is the one who sends you."

I AM:   the self? myself? I am sending myself? Moses was given the first taste of true liberty. He was not compelled to obey God, but he freely agreed to do so. His "self" then became absorbed in the "Self" that is God, for God described Himself to Moses as the Ultimate Central Essence of Consciousness, and only in full compliance with that Self could Moses himself succeed in freeing the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.  Full compliance = obedience.

"Where the LORD is, there is liberty."

"In the Spiritual City where the Ultimate Central Essence of (your) Consciousness is, there you will be free."

And if you cannot get into that City and you do not obey that Self, you cannot be free.

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