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Iris Spellings

"Free will promotes numerous contradictions. One turns it into license; another into irresponsibility; a third into the madness of conceit. Only he who has gone through the discipline of spirit can realize how stern the reality of freedom can be. The downfall of freedom can be called the festival of ignorance."
Signs of Agni Yoga (222), Agni Yoga Society

WHAT IS FREEDOM? THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM CAN be difficult to understand because it is used both in the context of restraint, such as freedom from something—freedom from fear, freedom from want—and, the freedom to take action—often seen as the license to do whatever we want.

Freedom is a state of mind, and not a condition of being, as would seem to be the case. Spiritual freedom, works from within out; it cannot be imposed from the outside. Nelson Mandela was not waiting to get out of jail to be free, nor was Martin Luther King, Jr. marching to be free. In their minds they were free! We are all free to think what we like. Despite this fact, we imprison ourselves by our thinking.

It's not hard to see from the many examples in the world today that a claimed freedom, if selfishly or materialistically exploited, produces anarchy, disruption, and untold suffering for innumerable people and thus, it is important to recognize that freedom brings its own responsibilities.

Franklin D. Roosevelt identified the key principle of freedom as pivotal when he presented The Four Freedoms to the world in 1941: freedom of speech/expression; freedom of worship/conscience; freedom from want; and freedom from fear. Over fifty years later, the UN Development Program in its Human Development Report 2000 described this principle of freedom as "the common purpose and common motivation of human rights and human development."

Truly one of the greatest documents of human history adopted by the UN in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article One sums it up, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

The 30 articles of this Declaration set out the rights we now call human rights. The 28th and 29th articles then place the individual in the community, recognizing that "everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of… [one's] personality is possible". The 29th article clearly and explicitly recognizes that rights and freedoms shall sometimes be limited by laws solely to guarantee the rights and freedoms of others and to protect the general welfare of all.

The real "freedom fighters" of this world, therefore, are those in whom an established and active sense of responsibility is at work—those who have successfully internalized the restraining influence of an ethical code—those who have achieved a personal freedom within themselves from restrictive attitudes of mind and heart, which limit thought and blind vision. In other words, they become their own authority. This shift in authority, from that which was externally enforced, to the ability to assume responsible authority over one's own actions is an indication of the current ongoing shift from the Piscean Age to the Aquarian Age.

Although freedom is the birthright of mankind, and free will is the highest of the divine characteristics, achieving it is another matter. True freedom exists only in the realm of the Soul. To achieve personal freedom and liberation from the 'tomb of matter' requires recognition of life beyond form and an appreciation of the qualities of the heart.

In the Agni Yoga book Heart, it is written, "People dream of freedom, but in what a dungeon they keep their hearts." (84) And, "For the approach to Us [Hierarchy], the understanding of full freedom is necessary. How terrible is the consequence of fear or the seeking of profits! Unclouded striving, freed from all burdens, manifests a true path. Only that heart from which no corruption can be concealed can judge where such freedom begins." (29)

For some years now, as a result of humanity's striving, the spiritual Hierarchy—our Elder Brothers Who have triumphed over matter, and Who have achieved the goal of spiritual freedom by the very self-same steps that we tread today—have been drawing nearer to us. This major approach is responsible for the great concepts of freedom, which are so close to the hearts of all of us today, and for the struggle at this time in which we are all participating. The Aquarian Age goals of brotherhood, unity, world cooperation and peace based on right human relations becomes clearer in our minds, as these Masters of the Hierarchy approach closer to us. However, based on occult law, these Masters will never infringe upon our divine right to make our own decisions, to exert our own free will and to achieve freedom by fighting for freedom—individually, nationally and internationally. As a result, we're told that Divinity awaits the expression of humanity's free will which, when accomplished, will bring about a revealed beauty and a spiritual purpose hitherto unknown.

1 Excerpted from the text of a talk given at the meditation meeting, "The Spiritual Work of the United Nations and the Liberation of Humanity" held in New York City on Saturday, 8 November 2003. Please write to request the full address.

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