WORK FOR THE SPIRITUAL FREEDOM OF HUMANITY
All over the world the spirit of man is crying out for freedom. Love of freedom and the search for freedom are the principal characteristics of humanity. In all races and in all climes, in all countries and at all times, the watchword for groping and struggling humanity has always been freedom! There are very few persons, however, who really understand the full implications of true and unqualified freedom. And there are many who, in their partial understanding of the real conditions of freedom, strive only for the attainment of that kind of existence which gives them a sense of relative freedom. Thus different persons long for different kinds of freedom according to the different things they have come to value.
Kinds of freedom
Freedom to live as one wishes is sought in all spheres of life. This imperative demand for freedom usually expresses itself by fastening upon some external conditions of the kind of existence people wish to lead. Hence those who identify their being with their country seek national or political freedom. Those who are animated by economic purposes seek economic freedom. Those who are inspired by religious aspirations seek freedom of religion. Those who are enthusiastic about sociological or cultural ideology seek freedom of movement and freedom to express the ideals that they cherish and wish to propagate. But there are few who realize that the basic freedom, which alone gives the stamp of true value to any of these different kinds of relative freedom, is spiritual freedom. Even if all the external conditions of a free life were completely fulfilled and guaranteed, the soul of man would still remain in woeful bondage if it failed to realize spiritual freedom.
Limits of freedom
All the different types of freedom that fasten upon some external conditions must, in their very nature, exist within certain limits. For the freedom that an individual or community or state seeks must be consistent with a similar freedom for other individuals, communities, or states. National, economic, religious, or cultural freedom expresses itself in and by means of the duality of existence. It lives on duality and is sustained by duality; therefore it has to be relative and limited and cannot be infinite. It exists in varying degrees. Even when it is won through persistent effort, it cannot be a permanent attainment, since the external conditions having once been secured are not secured forever but are capable of deteriorating in the course of time.
Spiritual freedom alone is unlimited
Only spiritual freedom is absolute and unlimited. When it is won through persistent effort, it is secured forever. Though spiritual freedom can and does express itself in and through the duality of existence, it is grounded in the realization of the inviolable unity of all life and is sustained by it. One important condition of spiritual freedom is freedom from all wanting. It is want that fetters life through attachment to conditions that would fulfill that want; if there is no want, there is no dependence or limitation. The soul is enslaved through wanting. When the soul breaks asunder the shackles of wanting, it emancipates itself from its bondage to the bodies gross, subtle, and mental. This is the spiritual freedom that brings with it the final realization of the unity of all life and puts an end to all doubts and worries.
Importance of spiritual freedom
It is only in spiritual freedom that one can have abiding happiness and unimpaired Self-knowledge. It is only in spiritual freedom that there arises the supreme certainty of Truth. It is only in spiritual freedom that there is the final ending of sorrow and limitation. It is only in spiritual freedom that one can live for all, and yet be detached in the midst of all activities. Any lesser type of freedom is comparable to a house built on sand, and any lesser type of attainment is frought with the fear of decay. Therefore there is no gift greater than the gift of spiritual freedom, and there is no task more important than the task of helping others to achieve spiritual freedom. Those who have understood the supreme importance of spiritual freedom have not only to strive for it for themselves but also to share the God-given duty of helping others win it.
Those who are inspired by a spirit of selfless service are quick to render unto humanity all possible help through provision of the necessities of life like clothes and shelter, food and medicine, education and other amenities of civilization. In pursuing the path of duty they are not only prepared to fight for the weak against aggression and oppression but also to lay down their very lives for the sake of others. All these types of service are great and good; but from the ultimate point of view, the help that secures spiritual freedom for humanity surpasses them all. It is insuperable in importance.
Way to help others attain spiritual freedom
The way to help others attain spiritual freedom is far different from the way of rendering other types of help. For the hungry you can provide food, and they have only to eat it. For the naked you can provide clothes, and they have only to wear them. For the homeless you can provide houses, and they have only to dwell in them. For those who are in the agonies of spiritual bondage, however, there is no ready-made provision that can give them immediate relief. Spiritual freedom has to be won by oneself for oneself through watchful and unfailing war against the lower self and the lower desires. Those who would be soldiers in the cause of Truth have to help all, not only in launching upon the thrilling enterprise of attaining victory over themselves, but also in every step they take toward that attainment. There is no other way of sharing their burden.
I have full confidence that you, my devotees, will share this burden. Many of you, for years together, have obeyed my orders and carried out my instructions, through faith in me and love for me. You have stuck to me and my spiritual cause through storm and stress and thick and thin. Now the time has come for you to offer all your services in my mission of helping humanity tread the spiritual path and realize God. The eternal truth that God alone is real has to be clearly understood and unreservedly accepted, and it has to be unequivocably expressed through words and deeds. In the full realization of the Truth, humanity shall attain spiritual freedom.
No sacrifice is too big to set man free from spiritual bondage and help him to inherit the Truth, which alone shall bring abiding peace to all and which alone will sustain an unassailable sense of universal fellowhood cemented by the ungrudging love of all, for all, as expressions of the same Reality. In this God-willed, divinely planned, and predestined task of bringing spiritual freedom to humanity, you, my devotees, have to help me even at the cost of your lives. In your duty of helping others to find God, you have to welcome every type of suffering and sacrifice.
DISCOURSES, 7th ed, pp. 340-343
1987 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust