There is an Indian dessert called the gulab jamun. It is like a donut hole of a very soft consistency, that is deep fried, and then immersed in a vat of sugar solution. It is ideally eaten warm, so that the sweetness of the solution thoroughly pervades the senses. In the ideal gulab jamun, there is very little to distinguish the solidity of the “donut” from the liquidity of the solution that it is immersed in.
Our lives are a little bit like the gulab jamun. We are immersed in the sweetness of our attachments and desires. And yet, we claim “freedom”, even celebrate it on an annual basis, while we continue to get more and more entangled in the web of our own creation. Our social and work commitments, our hobbies, our networks seem to keep expanding. The result is that we keep finding ourselves starved for time and energy for (inner) growth that can lead us to real freedom.
So, perhaps this Independence Day (July 4th in the USA), we can choose to re-examine our attitudes towards real freedom. We are all born with certain attitudes, qualities (gunas) and energies. These are the attitudes (or aptitudes) of activity or aggression (rajas), of lethargy and heaviness (tamas), and of purity or lightness (sattva). Our overall attitude in life at any given time, can be said to be a dynamic mixture of the proportion of these three energies within us.
It is when the attitudes of individuals (and societies) trend towards agression, overactivity, and heaviness, that we tend to move away from freedom. Our inner core of softness starts to melt away, and our attitude trends towards accepting less and less freedom. We rationalize to ourselves that this state must be the “new normal”. But it does not need to be so!
A true celebration of independence means that we make a decision to change our attitude towards freedom. We decide to balance our commitments, and discard those which further enslave us. We commit to those actions that tend to increase inner purity, lightness, softness and kindness, or sattva. It is in becoming receptacles for grace, by lowering the heart’s barriers to love, that freedom can come home to us.
Yes, warm gulab jamnun, like apple pie, is one of my favorite desserts. And I have discovered that it is particulary good when eaten over ice-cream, with moderation. This new attitude is unfolding the path of freedom dessert-sattva for me. How is your path unfolding?
P.S. Join us for our weekly chat, Sunday July 1st at 9amET / 630pm India in #SpiritChat ~ I will bring some gulab jamun and ice-cream to share, and we shall share some stories about real freedom… Namaste.
Attitudes to Freedom – Pausing and Celebrating on the Path