I’ve been contemplating the concept of freedom for the past couple of days. Not the “what does it mean to live in a free country” type, but rather the Tantric type of freedom. One of the basic tenets in Tantric philosophy is the idea that there is only one universal consciousness, and that consciousness freely chooses to bind itself into human (and every other) form.
The idea of freely choosing bondage (aside from sex games) is a rather bizarre one. Really, why would someone choose to remain bound when the opportunity to break free exists? And yet we see examples of it all around us. We see people who are living from a place of fear, trapped in the bondage of their mind’s creations.
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I’m not sure that really counts, however. If a person doesn’t realize they’re free, they can easily believe that the limitations are real. I’m reminded of a story of baby elephants raised for the circus. For the first six months of their lives, they’re chained to a long chain and are only able to walk to the extension of the chain. They learn how far they can move freely and when they’re held back. Once they learn their radius, the trainer can take the chain off and the elephant never attempts to stray beyond the circle they were bound to with the chain. I think some people are a lot like those circus elephants.
I like to think I’m a little more conscious than that. And yet last week, I found myself on the end of a circus chain, metaphorically speaking. Giving full disclosure here, things have been a little rocky in my relationship lately. My partner’s been consumed with work and I’ve not felt his presence for a couple of months. Last week he asked me to bear with him as he goes through this rough spot. He specifically asked me not to leave him, and I agreed.
The mental chains descended, and I almost immediately regretted agreeing to stay with him. The mental chatter was deafening: “Can I really do that? Am I supposed to take a back seat every time work gets busy? Does he realize what he’s asking me to do? Can’t he remain present when life gets chaotic? What about MY needs?”
What about my needs? It was a great question to ask, for it held the key to throwing off the chains. Who is responsible for meeting MY needs? Oh, that would be me, wouldn’t it? I get to make decisions that either help me feel grounded, centered, and connected to that universal consciousness, or that help me forget. When I stay centered in my heart, I’m better able to connect with my partner where he’s at, so that despite his choices, I can still come from a place of love. It took me a few days to get back there, but I did.
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One thing that helped tremendously was that yesterday we addressed the elephant walking in circles in our living room. I said, “I’m afraid I bit off more than I can chew and I won’t be able to stay with you.” He said, “And I’m afraid you’ll leave me.” Even though we can’t assuage those fears now, just speaking the truth released the last layer of chains for me. The pressure was off, and once more I remembered that I am truly free.
The next time I ask myself, “Why would your soul choose to bind itself like that?” I’ll remember to say, “For the sheer joy of experiencing a greater degree of freedom.”