People are so busy these days, chasing the promise of a single dream: to free themselves from whatever they perceive as their present set of limitations. But no one sees the following truth…
The plumber wants the freedom he imagines those with power possess; those with power want the freedom of those with fame; and those with fame want freedom from the pain of always trying to prove they are worthy of adulation. In essence, no one has the freedom that others dream they do.
And yet, this longing to be free is undeniable. More importantly, without it we can’t discover or realize our own highest possibilities… which means freedom isn’t just a luxury, it’s a requirement of our being. But if this freedom can’t be realized through our dreams, where can we find it to fulfill our innermost need?
Have you ever watched a fly trapped inside a window? It’s drawn to the light of the outdoors, and keeps climbing the windowpane looking for a way to freedom. Again and again it ascends, only to fall back to where it started. It never gives up, seeming to “know” – somehow – that climbing up the window is connected to “getting out.”
Mostly we think of “up” as a physical direction, the opposite of “down.” But, with a bit of closer examination I think we can begin to see within this innate longing a celestial impulse, a divine directive. Almost all living things are drawn to the light of the sun, save for those creatures whose nature dictates they must dwell in the dark.
Human history reveals the same urge. We have never stopped trying to go “up” in order to get “out.”
Only recently could we actually go upward in ships to explore space. Before then, the longing to get “out” of the confines of whatever limited our spirit of freedom – meant to expand outwardly. Even today we feel compelled to explore, conquer, colonize.
The longing to escape the very world we inhabit – both collectively and individually – persists. But now we’ve reached a tipping point in time and the experiences available in it. We have all but run out of physical places to find a freedom not yet explored. The planet strains beneath the feet of explorers turned exploiters.
All of which brings us to this very timely question: how can we now respond to this divine directive to move “up” in order to get “out,” to rise above limitation? If we have run out of “places” on our planet to move “out” into, where else is there for us to go? “Up” the social ladder? A dead end. “Out” of one relationship into another? Another dead end. What then? Where are we to find a new “up” and “out?”
The answer is to redefine our idea of what it means to go “up.” We must dare to enlarge its meaning to include the exploration of interior realms where the idea of rising above our limitations begins not with a physical escape, but with transcending our “lower” nature in which they live.
The true and inexhaustible meaning of moving upward is found not in going outward, but in going inward. Going into ourselves… is the first and last great unknown territory.
The undiscovered regions of heart and mind are endless, as are their resources. Each individual is unique, with incomparable possibilities. We are each potential conquerors of limitless inner worlds where we are never in competition with others. And, because this kind of freedom is endless, it is no longer seen as an outcome, something to be collected, as a miser imagines he satisfies his greed by counting his coins.
Instead, the journey of self-discovery itself is found to be the first freedom, and the realization that we are both traveler and territory explored becomes the last freedom.
The great saints and Masters, the prophets and mystics of ages past have always known this truth. Their teachings have always told sincere aspirants where to look to realize liberation: “The kingdom of heaven is within.”
We move upward and outward simultaneously, by going within. We travel by means of a new and dedicated kind of attention to who we are in the present moment, where the country we explore is our own consciousness, and the freedom revealed is without end.