Freedom Within

In the process of clarifying my values through the Hutzell workbook I’m starting to notice a value of mine that was difficult for me to name with one word. I thought of vitality, intensity, letting go, immersion, throwing myself into or losing myself in something. What came to mind was one time this past year when my two year old grandson came to our house. He took my hand and started to dance with me, and he said “Let’s be wild!” To him, being wild means the same thing as having fun because when he’s busy having fun people tell him he’s being wild.

I identify with him. When I’m at a wedding dancing in a circle dance and I close my eyes so that I can really get into the dancing and be totally supported by the hands holding me, it’s because I want to be wild. When I go jogging in the morning and feel the spirit moving me I want to be wild. When I play bongos and put my passion into the rhythm I want to be wild. I want to be free.

In the Jewish calendar, this is the season of freedom. So what is freedom? Frankl spoke about freedom “from” and freedom “to.” When Nick Vujicic explains that he gets up again for the umpteenth time after falling repeatedly, he is demonstrating what it means to be free. And when you see students in his audience with tears in their eyes because they are painfully aware of the perceived invisible barriers in their lives, it is because they are aware that they are not free. (By the way I think you’ll find that in a different video, not this one.)

Frankl understood that we don’t understand the meaning of freedom and this is why he spelled it out. He said that freedom does not preclude restrictions but is contingent upon restrictions. Like the ground beneath our feet, the boundaries of life give us the jumping off point for our freedom.

Then my thoughts turned to a message in my email box about a statement by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, that people destroy their children by always repeating the Yiddish phrase ‘Es is shver tzu zein a Yid.’ (It’s hard to be a Jew.). He continued with the comment: “No, it is not hard to be a Jew. It is beautiful and joyous to be a Jew.”

I answered the friend who sent me the message by saying “The question it leaves me with is: Why is it so hard to be a Jew who says ‘It is beautiful and joyous to be a Jew’?”

I got my answer to the question yesterday when our synagogue’s rabbi spoke about the topic of leniencies and stringencies in the law. To keep a law in a stricter way can be a sign that you care, but if you’re depressed over it, this is not a good thing. It’s possible to be enlivened by the law or depressed over it. This has nothing to do with how strict or lenient you are but about whether it’s coming from a commitment that comes from deep within or not and whether it is right for you or not.

The holiday of Passover constitutes our birth as a nation, a birth from slavery and non-being to freedom and existence. What is the difference between a slave and a free person? A slave has no mind of his own. A free person asks himself: “How can I take all the gifts I’ve been given and use them to serve a good and useful purpose?”

There are two kinds of structures in life. There’s a structure that releases your spirit into a transcendent space, and there is a structure that confines. The structure that releases is something like the structure of music. There is a circle of fifths, there is tempo, there is timing. There are rules. The music comes out through the structure of the rules. Writing is the same thing. Many things in life are like this.

And then there’s a different kind of structure when you feel you’re restricted, limited, bound. Don’t do this and don’t do that. You can’t or you believe you shouldn’t and pretty soon you can’t move. You’re stuck in one place, with no life left in you. This structure is what we call barriers. The first is what we usually call boundaries.

But the truth is there is only one kind of structure. Because Nick experienced the structure of barriers in life. Everything other people could do so simply, for him there was a stop sign. No, you can’t just walk like a regular person. You can’t just eat with your hands. But he turned his confining barriers into boundaries that were springboards for his freedom. He has inner freedom and as a free person, he made his limitations serve him, serve a good and useful purpose.

The type of freedom the Jewish code of law is meant to be is the second type. It’s like the musical circle of fifths. It’s supposed to release a person into service rather than servitude, to access the capacity for choice in order to express the profundity of love and joy and also responsibility – the responsibility that only a lover can feel compelled to express.

So now I return to my Passover cleaning. Will I access my love in my relationship to God, to other people and to life? As I wipe away these bloated yeast-filled arrogant breadcrumbs will I release my spirit into freedom and self-transcendence or will I do the opposite and use the boundaries that are meant to release me as a depressive barrier that confines? It’s up to me. The freedom is within me.

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8 Responses to Freedom Within

  1. Panny says:

    This touched me deeply… I am so inspired by the inspirational life, freedom and joy that Nick Vujicic projects and gives . Thank you.
    Love, Pan.

  2. logogroup says:

    Yes, I was too. The first time I saw a video of him was when one of the participants in our introductory logotherapy course showed it to us. He is one of those people we should all be touched by and learn from.

    • Panny says:

      Absolutely! When I listen to and see him on his videos, his higher-self shines through so strongly that his “disabilities” are no longer visible at all to me… neither are they the focus of his own attention. He is truly a man of honour and integrity to his authentic self… the hero of his own life… “Ecce Homo”.

      • Panny says:

        I should have also used the word “limitations” and not disabilities… even with all my limbs, I think that sometimes I am extremely disabled by the workings of my own mind… I can learn so much from this incrdible man!

  3. logogroup says:

    What kind of value would you call it when you are inspired by people’s human qualities? It seems to be “experiential” because it’s receiving something from the world but it’s not the same as seeing a beautiful sunset. – Or maybe it is!

  4. Panny says:

    I feel a little shy responding here as I lack confidence in myself, but this question seems to challenge me and I therefore feel driven to contribute my thoughts in response. I would say that there is a lot more “dimension” to the “value gifts” that are given to inspire us on a “human” level, when the inspiration is given between one person’s transcendent humanness and received by the spiritual (noetic) dimension of another, so igniting and exciting the “human qualities” within the receiver. In this case, I feel that the results are more than “experiential” alone… they also encompass “creative values” as well as “attitudinal values”. I say this, because it is people like Nick Vujicic, who not only inspire us by touching our hearts, but they also inspire us to “do better” and to “be better” human beings. When we are truly inspired by the human qualities of another person, our “human consciousness” is touched and may even be changed to the point where we begin to think about our own lives more transcendently and make positive changes as a result… this is where not only experiential changes occur, but we actively and creatively begin to make positive changes to the way we “perceive” in this world and “are” in this world as well as the way we “do” in this world, and this why I say that there is more dimension to the values received on a “human level” when we are talking about being inspired by other people’s human qualities as opposed to being inspired experientially by a beautiful sunset… which can also bring about positive changes in a person, but I feel on a different level of intensity.

  5. logogroup says:

    I see I’ve asked a good question since I’ve stimulated you noetically to give a very true and wise answer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I will continue to contemplate what you’ve said here.

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