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How Free Can I Be?

Wednesday, 2 April, 2008 - 3:09 pm

Are you free? Am I?

 At one level, we certainly are. We’re living in an incredible country, free of undue governmental interference and coercion. We can worship as we please, opine as we wish, and dress etc., however we like.

 But still the question persists: Am I truly free?

Not necessarily.

 I may be free of external constraints, but that doesn’t mean I am internally – spiritually, emotionally and psychologically – free.

 It’s a struggle we all face. Instinctively, we operate from a ‘Self’ position - self-interest, self-gratification, self-preservation etc. 

 I’m just a small human being. If my life revolves around MY sensitivities, needs and desires, then I have a very small orbit. I can’t be truly free, because I’m trapped in the world of ‘Me’.

 Even when I’m high-minded, and focused on my own character growth, I am still preoccupied with Self. Self-development is a very important and virtuous exercise. But bottom line: It’s all about [a more evolved] Me.

 So, how to be free?

 I need to transcend the limitations of my existence. I need to engage, and truly invest myself in, a pursuit beyond my limited existence.

 When I’m committed to others, surrendered to higher values and goals, I begin to experience an unshackled me. When I steer my internal attachment away from my self-serving impulses, I clear a way for my Higher Self to shift into gear.

 So, perhaps counter to conventional wisdom, self-actualization actually happens through self-transcendence.

 This is a primary Passover theme. During our Freedom Holiday, we are told to eat Matzah and to refrain from ‘chametz’ (leavened bread).

 What are Chametz and Matzah in the soul-psyche, and how do they relate to this Holiday’s Freedom goal?

Chametz and Matzah are very similar. Technically, they can actually have the same ingredients: flour and water. But there’s a critical difference: Chametz has been allowed to rise, while Matzah is kept in its simple form.

 Chametz symbolizes the bloated ego; the complex psyche with its self-image, its creature-comfort needs and its life-machinations.

 Matzah embodies internal simplicity, the ego-less commitment to higher principles and goals.

 Matzah means getting beyond my puffed-up perceptions, and surrendering myself to life’s real business.

 That’s as free as I can get.

Comments on: How Free Can I Be?

Mendy wrote...

a bit more context.....

Pesach is a Holiday of Freedom, a time to celebrate and achive Freedom.
As we explored last week, the Holiday itself is a recipe for inner Liberation.
At one level, that means the freedom to 'turn a new page' every day, unencumbered by yesterday's behavioral patterns (see 'Spring is a State of Mind' from last week).
At a different level, this is manifested in the Chametz/Matzah dynamic.
In Scriptural/Rabbinic literature, Chametz (literally 'leaven') is an expression for negative character. In Psalma 71:4, when King David implores G-d to save him from, "the violent one", it uses the simile 'chometz'. In Rabbinic literature, hubris and misguidedness use the same language.

In Chassidic language, it all boils down to shallow (arrogant) ego. This is the chometz we need to 'keep off the table' during this liberation exercise.

Humility, Matzah, represents the ability to recognize our own need for growth, and to accept help from whence it comes; THAT
is the food of Freedom.

If you're reading this, consider chiming in!!


Reggie wrote...

Having just come from a country where freedoms are severely limited, I can truly appreciate all we do have, externally.
The Jews of Cuba seem to get your message about true inner freedom. I saw a tremendous amount of humility, of suppression of the individual ego for the good of the community, and accepting help from all sources. Hopefully we can learn from their and others' examples in this season of liberation.

Rachel wrote...

It amazes me how your weekly message is always exactly what I needed to hear/read. An explanation of what I mean is too personal to share on a blog, but others out there reading this know exactly what I mean. It IS a struggle we ALL face....finding that path that leads outside one's self. Your message is always the pep talk I need to keep looking. I just wanted to say "thanks".

Mendy wrote...


To be honest, your note was exactly what I (how do you bold or italicize on this thing?)needed to hear right now. Thanks!

See you