Each of us answers this question in a very personal way, but the answer may have something to do with our relationship to individuation and freedom. Our era witnesses the strong development of both, at the expense of old religious affiliations.
Maybe it is time now for an essentially free spirituality, free in the most intense way. Free to be, free to have been, free to pass after a century – or less – of personal experiences, free to become. What are we experiencing during this period of time? Is it the absence of freedom?
A Gnostic vision of the human being could be expressed as the absolute freedom of men and women to become free and alive. The human being enters life with a consciousness that cannot be considered absolute. Immersed in a life in which he experiments, in a reality that he starts to partially grasp, he must deal with his own complex nature and his imprecise senses. They bring him to the point of creating his own vision of the world and of himself, a personal and individual vision. Human beings don’t share reality in an absolute way. The most elaborate way of sharing probably remains language. “There is another reality, larger, transcending, and spiritual”. Those words create in each of us an inner reality that is different and our own.
Freedom can be comprehended in different ways. As long as the feeling of lack of liberty seems to be related to external constraints, to limitations inherent to the life context, then this lack of liberty is experienced on a basic level, that of daily life. Then one day, traces of a different reality suddenly appear within; an aspiration emerges with an intensity that words cannot translate.
This reality is beyond the bodily senses and beyond the consciousness that has been developed. Can human thinking comprehend it? Becoming aware of a larger reality is already a process that takes time, and often, awareness only emerges through crises, painful life events and self-questioning.
Can man define that part of himself that is not yet articulate or fulfilled? Can he confront his deep aspiration to a life more complete, more magnificent? The chance in his life of unveiling a foreseen possibility occurs to him in a palpable way. Does he succeed in going beyond his own frame of reference and finding answers beyond this frame? This frame of reference is collectively enriched throughout human history. The past two centuries have deeply modified how we represent ourselves. The social framework now holds less sway over the human individual, so he or she can now more freely accept his own singularity, his freedom of choice in essential life domains such as profession, choice of love partners, lifestyle, place of living, food, etc.
Beyond everyday rationality
Awareness and inner realizations can break like a new dawn into our consciousness. But they are often followed by a skeptical denial. It is the well known “principle of reality”, that can be life denying, causing us to mistrust our insight and intuition. Everyday rationality can exclude the discovery that has been made from the consciousness. But if this consciousness space opens the door to truth in us, to a transcending possibility, how, then, can it evaluate its own accuracy? With its own perception? “I feel that it is right.” With its own consciousness? “I perceive that it is right.” How far do education and internalized norms influence those perceptions and feelings? Can the consciousness space answer clearly and precisely to the question “who am I?”? Can the answer to this question be final?
Through these questions, to which no final and irrevocable answers can be found, man can enlarge his field of perception, his field of consciousness. Inner resistances are plentiful and are often far more imperative than external restraints.
It is difficult to accept that humanity imprisons itself in the hell of a collective creation, that individuals do not take the risk of giving up their mental and emotional constructions, and to thus aspire to a self-confirmation. They do not risk an inner discovery that would radically question their being. Unprepared to lose his fixed image of what he would like to be, man is left with only the humdrum of his daily existence. But he is unavoidably driven through centuries by immortal injunctions such as “know yourself and you will know the universes and the gods.”
Man ends up questioning the meaning of freedom, of his life paradigm, of his frame of reference. He questions the seemingly irreconcilable opposites within him. Yes, two realities live together within him: one that he perceives and grasps with his senses, his consciousness; and another that he understands with his atoms, his vibration and his inner sensitivity, that he catches with his own light. And becoming more aware, more sensible to his own light, he makes it brighter. He becomes a living light, struggling with its own darkness. He becomes more sensitive to other peoples’ light. He becomes sensitive to the expression of eternal truths. His regular frame of reference is no longer closed. The universe talks to him and lights up something eternal in him.
A new reality
Eternity in man is a reality. It is linked through him to matter, to the material reality of his being, so that he can master it. He must realize it by changing his own reality. There is no other way towards divinization. Man must understand and overcome the laws of right and wrong, of good and evil. He must go along the path of knowledge, then of transfiguration. He must extract the eternal from the temporary. Making his way through the realms of time and matter gives him the wherewithal to learn from it, and to eventually transcend it. Although this process is not automatic, the human being will inevitably pierce, at a given moment, the veils of illusion, and he will discover his true nature in order to fulfil it. This will continue until every human being has found the path of absolute freedom.
Beyond the material world, spiritual reality is a vast unifying and transforming reality. Possessing a body is essential for the individual to go along this path of self-knowledge in unity with this spiritual nature in its greatest expression.
But if the divinization process of the human individual inevitably impacts on multiple human lives, how can it be reconciled with the fact that humans are more and more attached to their own uniqueness as individuals? Man accepts freedom deprivation in the professional context or out of respect for social obligations that are necessary for community life. Education has taught him to moderate the impulsiveness of his needs and desires to respect these rules, each individual achieving this in his or her own unique way. If belonging to and being part of a group can galvanize and nurture his mystical emotionalism, and open him through his soul to the feeling of community, does it not also constitute an alienation, and a loss of freedoms?
Being an autonomous individual, free…
Can we transform ourselves while ignoring the progression of others? It is one of the great paradoxes of this path. The individual must undo his lack of freedom at it’s tightest knot. He or she may then answer the question of freedom, discovering the superior octave of freedom and unity. Unity becomes a living and linking tonality, which exists as a potential in all, yet which each of us is called to co-create. Then the world is no longer separate or exterior to him.