Ask almost anyone today, “Do you feel free?” What answers will you get? Lots of people feel free…kind of. More than ever the ability to live our lives as we please without external constraints is limited. But radical freedom that enables us to live full and rich lives can be found through the wise exercise of intuition.
It’s really not about rights, even those rights and privileges enshrined in our Constitution. For me freedom is tempered by my values, my deeply-held beliefs that tell me who I am and wish to become. My values have evolved and changed over time, but one aspect has never changed: they offer me a rich and more spiritual view of what it means to be free.
The first values we receive come to us through parents, teachers, religious leaders, and civil authorities. In this early stage they are often meant to control our behavior and introduce us to transcendent truths about God or nature. And we learn there are consequences for not following them. If these values do not evolve as we approach adulthood, we remain somewhat immature in our world-view and superstitious in our religions.
In order for me to discern which values I to embrace as an adult I need to question them, one by one. What is the “good” in the values I hold dear? How are my values related to each other? Do they make me a more integrated individual?
This work of discernment needs a strong intuition as I name my values and decide how they fit into my life. I also need a strong stomach because I may have to adjust my working or living conditions in order to be true to my deeply-held values. Sometimes my attempt at integration of values and life doesn’t work and appropriate compromise may be in order.
Once my intuition informs me that my values are on target I may naturally think that most everyone else ought to embrace them. This is a noble idea, but a formula for potential discord. I better be ready for the consequences of chaos as “my” values clash with “their” values. Such is the stuff over which wars are fought.
As I continue in this process of discernment I also need to discover my core value, the one that governs all the rest. And it’s got to be more than just a belief in God or a higher power, as important as that may be. Using God or religion as a core value, particularly when they are open to such wide interpretation and nuance, is not enough. So I must dig deeper.
As my intuition has discerned over the years I’ve found that my core value is that of respect for each person as an independent soul who has an equal right to life, self-determination, and their own core values that will govern their personal beliefs and community values.
But this opens another can of worms! How can I respect those with core values that generate beliefs and behaviors that are oppose mine? How can I transcend the anger, disgust, or revulsion that results? How do I live with those who willfully commit abuse, atrocities, crimes, and engage in thoughtless speech and actions that hurt others and show ultimate disrespect? How do I live with the rest of humanity?
Again, intuition comes to the rescue. It calls me to go deeper and to ask myself: When my core values are challenged and incite strong feelings, what purpose are those feelings serving: A call to activism, to speak out, to sign petitions, to get involved? A call to deeper meditation and prayer, in order to clear myself of connection to past stress and trauma? An adjustment in my values that are not yet perfectly formed? An acknowledgement that core values of my opponent may be similar to mine, but they’re being expressed from an entirely different perspective?
This process of intuitive discernment is not pretty…but it is effective. It enables me to find radical freedom in my soul, so that whatever arises I can be true to myself in good conscience. It helps me to be tolerant toward those who have not entered fully into this process. It also offers me some measure of confidence that what I’m all about is good and necessary in the world today. Have you begun your intuitive discernment process? What have you come up with?
Pictures copyrighted by Andrew Ciccarelli