The yoga sutras define absolute freedom as unfettered and seedless union with the “divine” (universal consciousness, etc). A “union” that carries over into an awake state of awareness that is under one’s complete control such that there is no possibility of falling back to an image of oneself as separate from the cosmic divine.
Oooo-kay. That’s the sutras (via my interpretation). What do you think absolute freedom is?
What fetters you and pulls you into shoulds and musts?
Can you imagine yourself free of all burdens? free of all attachments?
And once you’ve imagined yourself free of your existing burdens and attachments, do you see new attachments from which to become free? What would you peel away next? How do you move from a goal of living with joy to absolute freedom? (You can also ask yourself: do you want absolute freedom?)
Book three of the sutras has started to tackle this move to absolute freedom, and book four will pick up on that thread (next week!). There is definitely sage advice in here, even if at times it needs to be reinterpreted a little for our modern ears.
In my reading, striving for freedom is the same as striving for “absolute” truth. The kind of truth that once it’s out there you can’t put away or ignore. The kind of truth that compels you to act in accordance with that truth, because to do otherwise would disregard the truth, would be a lie to yourself, which means, I think, that it isn’t yet absolute in your understanding.
Sutra 3.56: Absolute freedom is when purity of being is identical with pure being. Translation by Kofi Busia
Absolute truth that encompasses all of us doesn’t leave room for a difference in the right to life, which includes a right to love freely, to think freely, to relate to others on equal footing regardless of our respective roles in society.
A right to have our minds open to new information and to process that information for ourselves. A right to be the individuals who make up societies, civilizations, and the universe.
I do not know if humans are capable of this level of sophistication –certainly it still poses enormous challenge to us– but I like to think so.
I think in truth –identifying it, owning it, and acting in accordance with it– is absolute freedom.
Taking action is by far the toughest job we’ve got, and it’s what the sutras offer us: here are some actions to try out and see what they teach us. Just maybe, there’s a little bit of truth in them.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.