2016 was a bit of a crazy year in terms of change, growth and focus. All manner of the unexpected occurred, and we are yet to see the real repercussions of certain incidents – you what I am referring to here. The silver lining to this hazardous, futile cloud is the realisation that there is another world we have much greater control over, that exists outside of politics, money, fame, fortune and disaster. There’s a world inside each one of us and we maintain its equilibrium. Therefore there is an escape route, a mental backdoor that allows us to vacate any situations we don’t agree with or feel totally at ease with. I made a New Years resolution to make no changes, then tried to change everything to lighten the load and you know what the universe did? It reversed all my fucking changes. I’m living yards down the road from a previous property, back in fashion and have re-joined the yoga hub. So much for trying…I saw my hometown for all of three days. It wasn’t a number one option to go back there, but if it meant having time to focus and write without mega-money pressure I was up for that.
Many ideas within texts that I have read recently have been centred on the fitting concept of freedom, and what it means to access it. They aren’t discussing being free from the daily grind, rent, mortgages, cat-feeding responsibilities or any repetitive behavioural forms of… rascality. This recent stunt of mine made me realise we really aren’t that free! Or maybe we are, depending on how we view things, but its freedom in the mind not the physical kind. These texts discuss being free from what appears to be deserving and moving towards that which truly is, relinquishing conditioned thoughts, false perceptions, likes and dislikes. By exploring our own understanding of meaning we can become less restricted by what we want to see, and simply see.
In the words of Harper Lee…
So I was seeing confinement, a little stress, I tried to run from it all and it took me straight back where I started with a fresher perspective and I realised that we only know freedom after we know confinement, be that emotional, physical or the mental kind. I’ve been slowly working through Rudolf Steiner’s The Philosophy of Freedom for several months…yeah it’s a tough read.
In The Philosophy of Freedom, Steiner considers the things that affect human freedom, and in what sense we can ever truly fulfill a desire for eleutheromania ( eleutheromania = an intense desire for freedom). The premise is that it’s tricky, due to the fact that we are persistently driven and influenced by perceptions from our senses and instinctive desires. Environmental conditioning plays a huge part in our perceptions of reality. So, it can be hard to distinguish what is actually driving us, most of the time, for example free will or something more predetermined. Yet, feeling free equates to happiness and I think more covertly, maintaining a sense of control over our environment.
The Upanishads were written when Indian society had begun to question traditional Vedic order (800-500 BCE). One of the texts claims that one finds true joy through the infinite. It goes onto explain that the infinite is accessed through a real knowledge of the self, claiming that space, energy, time, the sun and the moon all essentially reside in every being, suggesting that knowing ourselves and our perception of the world itself is the clincher. A weird and wonderfully oxymoronic kind of freedom is suggested here, where everything resides in each one of us, as we are all infinitely connected, yet, through that awareness and connection stems a greater appreciation and sense of space itself.
This idea of connecting with our real self and accessing the infinite, if looked at in terms of physics, suggests that when our connections are harboured in an authentic and healthy way, and I am not just referring to our connections with others but with ourselves as well, we can experience an infinite sense of… bliss. When we engage with movement in specific ways, we transform the weight of gravity and the resistance of air into a form of grace and beauty; we change the meaning of the space that movement encompasses. Similarly, thoughts are transformed into words and their sound takes on an energetic form. Thoughts contain a frequency too.
Lijn is included in this post because of her focus on science and specifically physics, and how we interact with our immediate world, she is the ultimate observer. She notes that humans often observe the extra-terrestrial with total awe and wonder, and miss many amazing things that are happening right in front of them. She challenged the artistic scene in the 1960’s with her displays of marbles floating on glass pivots, with refracted light travelling through them and placed heliostats on the Georgian Bridge that glistened like stars in the daylight. She was the first woman to work within the kinetic scene and is mightily inspiring because of her ability to transform scientific discovery into art. My favourite line from her talk was; ‘after all, we’re all just made of stardust’ and I thought, she gets it. Lijn gets this idea of an infinite connection, and she harbours it through her artistic curiosity, by creating art that plays with various elements, pushing boundaries and opening up new realms of perspective.
How often do we observe the way we interact with the space within ourselves and our own thought processes with such a high and curious level of investigation? The power of thought is huge, sometimes I think it surpasses all other energetic forms as it sets our internal equilibrium which translates into our actions, emotions and how we relate to all physical matter. Lijn suggests that we can observe everything around us with the same mysterious delight that we might observe outer space with, so why not apply the same focus and keen interest to thought itself, and how it connects to everything that is going on around us?
One of the tests within The Upanishads states that; ‘One who realises the self discovers that everything in the cosmos…all comes from the self.’ So there is this innately intimate connection between earth and space, between one another and yet, one might ask the same what? The same current, origin, wavelength or anatomical design? Occasionally, I feel like an offbeat alien kayaking upstream, in a conceptually driven cascade of utopian ideals. Sometimes freedom feels real, other times it feels like merely an ideal. Yet, it all starts with a simple shift in perspective, that can seem inaccessible at times but is always there for the taking. When we truly check in with that connection, all stress, troubles and strifes sort of dissipate. We are left with a clear view of what we want and how we truly feel, regardless of anything that is going on around us.
Steiner fascinates me because he harboured an esoteric belief system that considered spirituality without God. This state of being that he describes as being ‘spiritual’ might be considered a sense of connection between one another as well as an organic source, which is in essence ‘spiritual’ as it is referring to our inner, non-material experiences. When we connect with source, we gain a sense of freedom, space to play and roam outside and inside the mind. It frees us from conditioning, false perceptions and opinions. I think that is about as free as we can be.