Archive for category Freedom

Honoring personal space and boundaries

We come into human society as individuals, with unique personalities and attributes. Even when born as twins, we are all still different.

There are reasons for this; and it is for us to respect and honor these differences and boundaries. Even when and where we seek to be ‘one’ in social terms. In terms of community solidarity across different social spaces; our ethnicities, our countries, our continents, and other social groupings of political or other interest to us. Solidarity across any space can only be valid; if as an individual you ‘choose’ voluntarily to be a part of this. For this is the only way, you could possibly care about and then participate truthfully and fully in this respective venture with others.

However, from childhood as we grow, we only come to understand over time that we are indeed separate individuals and that this status is of particular importance regarding how we choose to engage with others around us, and with ourselves, first and foremost. An infant child thinks they are part of their mother or intimate carer in the beginning, because they intuit all of the child’s needs and feelings; whether this is desire to feed, to sleep, to be dry, etcetera. It is only at the age of eighteen months, that a child begins to understand that they are a separate being, from their mother, and others.

At a personal level, we have various ‘spaces’ as well; spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental or psychological.

The ‘external’ or non-personal spaces require some kind of shared kinship, for example, genetic or adopted relationships in order for one to qualify as one’s family member. The same with other social spaces; either the proximity of a shared physical or geographical space – or the sharing of a ‘conceptual’ space, say a students body, a political or professional social grouping. Therefore, allegiance with these ‘external’ groupings has to do with some kind of mutual interest likely to affect you as a member of that social group.

The personal space is very special here in that we voluntarily choose to let others share this space within us; we can choose to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at any one time. We can choose to let people in or out – at any point in time. We have the sovereignty of personal prerogative to do this. Hence, there can never be any genuine relationship or connection with anyone, of a personal nature, where coercion – by any means – is involved. A lot of coercion is employed, overtly or covertly, through unbalanced power relationships with authority figures – at home, in schools, religious, cultural and other social institutions and situations. Where there is threat to one’s personal safety or survival, when it is not possible for someone to safely and comfortably say, ‘no’; then any supposed ‘yes’ in this situation is indeed invalid and consequently untrue. Our ‘yes’ can only be true when we are genuinely free to openly express this. It is important for us to be fully aware of this; even while exposed to these, too often, frequent circumstances.

Therefore it is of specific importance for us as individuals to ‘mind’ our boundaries. To ensure that our personal connection with another is truly desired, at some deep level, within us and that this is reciprocated, honored and respected. For nothing less will do.

 

 

 

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Spirituality as Freedom

There are parallels between our spiritual lives and our carnal (physical) lives. The two states of being are intertwined.

Take the life of a child, for instance. When we are born, our first experience is losing the comfort of our mothers’ bodies. It is suddenly cold, and loud and bright. These new changes lead a baby to cry. It is suddenly different. Then we calm down as we try to perceive and learn about our new surroundings. While you are still in utero you can hear your mother’s voice so by the time you arrive you can instantly recognize her. Babies are short sighted and can only see clearly within breastfeeding distance therefore are more familiar with their mother’s face and also learn the mother’s smell within days of birth.

Having made this connection at/and before birth with our primary caregiver, we then trust that they will protect and provide for us through a safe and secure life of personal and physical development.

We become curious about our spirituality (as with our physical development) when we seek to understand abstract concepts about life and death, and our reason for being.

We are handed a social blueprint as a starter pack in the form of religious and cultural traditions from the community we are raised within. These blueprints are not necessarily without problems; chief among them being the need for social conditioning for purposes of conformity with tradition. On the outside, this might appear to serve purposes of unity with the community perceiving and believing the same thing/s. On the other hand, coercive conformity for purposes of social control along structures of domination is hardly the starting point for personal growth and spiritual fulfillment. As individuals with personal prerogative and agency this must not be subsumed for the ‘greater good’ through attempted erasure of our attempt at self-determination and self-discovery. The so-called common good for the wider community, which is composed of many individuals, cannot possibly come through the suppression of individuals’ freedoms.

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama asserts in ‘Ethics for the New Millennium’;

‘Religion I take to be concerned with faith in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another, an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of metaphysical or supernatural reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or nirvana. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayer, and so on.

Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit — such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony — which bring happiness to both self and others.

While ritual and prayer, along with the questions of nirvana and salvation, are directly connected to religious faith, these inner qualities need not be, however. There is thus no reason why the individual should not develop them, even to a high degree, without recourse to any religious or metaphysical belief system.

This is why I sometimes say that religion is something we can perhaps do without. What we cannot do without are these basic spiritual qualities.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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