Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Man is born free, and everywhere
he is in shackles.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher;
he was born on this date, 1712.
OK. There are a lot of other quotes I could have chosen for Rousseau. Certainly this is one of the most quoted and hackneyed. But ….. highly relevant these days, yes? I don’t know about you, but I feel greatly disappointed that the human race seems to have made so little advancement in a lot of things, including freedom. Oh, Freedom has come now and then, occasionally profoundly ….. but it cycles back and forth.
Is that the way Life is, and Human Nature? And the way it will always be?
I think perhaps Freedom cannot stand alone. It must have “companions”. Jesus is reported to have said something very compelling: “I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it up again”. Laying down one’s life - which is often in the mystical context called “dying” - is often in many religions seen as true Freedom. Similarly, I recently read something like, “The greatest affluence is to need nothing”. This theme gets replayed. In “Shogun”, it is pointed out that once one has made the inner choice to commit suicide, which I understand symbolically, one is then free. In George Martin’s contemporary fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, the priest of the Drowned God drowns initiates until they pass out/die, and then revives them – and they can never die again. Christian Baptism symbolically “drowns” the person, signifying they have “died” to a lesser Life and risen to a Larger and to Eternal Life (if they follow the Path).
I think one essential Companion of Freedom is radical Compassion. Unless a person has subjected the Ego and can suffer with another or see themselves in the Other, they are not free and never will be. Is this not essentially the Message behind the Christian doctrine of Incarnation, that God becomes Man?
No wonder our World today is so bereft of Freedom?
What think you?