Personal Liberation = Collective Liberation

A followup to yesterday’s Privilege, Friendship, Suffering.

The work of addressing the suffering of others is inextricable tied to the liberation of one’s self too. Too often, I think we start this work focused solely on our own healing or helping others. In fact, all the norms we attach to certain identity (masculine, feminine, gender, sexual orientation, race, class, etc) also imprison ourselves. When we label one group a certain way, we are saying we are not that way. We restrict our own freedom and uniqueness when we Other others.

For example, a father may tell his little boy to stop dancing because men don’t dance, only gays and women dance. This boy will forever be restricted from free expression until he heals that wound. As long as that boy carries that stereotype in his being, there will be whole facets of life he won’t be able to explore because he’s worried it makes him look “gay”.

What we find when we start doing this work is that we have been putting ourselves and each other into confining boxes of who we are and who others are.

And, to me, it’s only when we realize the fact that the freedom of others is tied to my own personal freedom that the work of liberation becomes really urgent, really important.

I struggle with this fact. Very often, I see privileged people do this work out of compassion for others. A type of self-centered compassion of wanting to be the “good” one “helping others”. That is fine. Good. But, it doesn’t have the full investment of the person into the work though. It’s still arm’s length. [To be clear, I recognize the areas I still do this too.]

But, when we see that the liberation of others is a must, a need for my own liberation. That my own freedom and being is confined due to the confinement of others. Then the motivation is not just wanting to be the savior helping others but a desperate need to free myself along with others.

Not quite clear, right?

I do this awakening meditation practice for a deeper awakening of myself but also because I care about others.

Most people think a monastery is some sort of sanctuary you go to relax and rest. To find some inner peace because you can’t cut it in the “real world”. Where everyone gets along.

To be fair, that’s why a lot of people look towards spirituality and religion in the first place.

But, that’s not my monastery at all. No one can stay complacent here. People have minor conflicts with each other constantly.

As my life healed more and more, I naturally could see beyond myself and opened up to the suffering of others. I wanted to be of service. But, the deeper I went into relationship and service, the closer I came upon my even deeper wounds. The deeper wounds that limited me from deeper connection and service and joy.

I practice forms like meditation and circling to push me beyond my comfort zone. I want my over compulsive attachments to comfort, understanding, safety, people’s approval, and so on to break forever so that I may be free. So that I may serve others completely. So that I can be free completely.

Both sides of the same coin. To the extent that I can hold spaces of healing for others, I am free to that extent. To the extent that I am free is the extent I can hold space for others.

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