Tuesday 1 August 2023

If you don't want freedom, you don't want creation; and you don't want Heaven; but...

Freedom is of-thinking - freedom is "pure" thinking from one's true (and divine) self - and recognizing that such thinking is not private and subjective, but a part of reality. 

Yet such freedom is not wanted by most people most of the time; not even among self-identified Christians (who might, on principle, be supposed to value freedom more than most). 

Thus, people will not allow their own thinking to be free -- we block and constrain our thinking, and subordinate it to external influences, and desire the same (even more so) for the thinking of others -- and we do this for reasons that seem Good and have partial validity.  

Yet the consequences of undervaluing our freedom and the freedom of others may be serious, eternally; because unfreedom means the rejection of Heaven

One who does not desire freedom may desire a Paradise of peace, pleasure, and without suffering; but he does not desire Heaven. Because heaven is a domain of creation , and creation entails freedom. 

Thus one who does not give a core valuation to freedom will reject Heaven, will reject Jesus Christ's offer of resurrection and salvation.  

It is a matter of common observation of our-selves and others that people often set a very low priority on freedom, regard other things as more important: we may prefer pleasure, freedom from suffering, security, or continuation of some sin - resentment, lust, pride etc. 

Indeed that we often fear and resist freedom in ourselves - and do so even more so in other Beings (we fear the freedom of people, animals, plants, the mineral world...). 

And such caution about freedom is rational, sensible, truth-based! Because it is only in Heaven, where mutual love of all Beings is the fundamental and continuous principle, that freedom can or should be unconstrained. It is only in Heaven where freedom necessarily leads to creation.

Freedom plus Love equals Creation...  But, on the other hand; freedom without Love is selfish desire. 

It is therefore rational to fear the freedom of those who do not love us. 

It is rational for those who desire to be Good; to fear their own freedom - since they know that (in this mortal life)    love does not always or fully rule their motivations. 

In sum: Freedom is thinking (thus living) from-oneself; but that is insufficient in a world of other Beings, it does not take account of other Beings except insofar as they gratify us. 

Thus, freedom without love is demonic - and regards the rest of creation as ripe for subordination to its own gratification.  

Yet indifference to freedom is potentially demonic too: especially indifference to the freedom of others - and the idea that "the rest of the world" might be/ out to be subordinated to our own untrammeled freedom to think/ say/ do... whatever we want. 

[This, indeed seems, to be a recurrent demonic temptation - to couple individual freedom with personal gratification without reference to love. The 'offer' is of a situation in which the individual is presented with a absolute-freedom fantasy of doing whatever he wills, whenever he wills it. As for other people/ beings... well in one version everyone is supposed to get this freedom, and we get the prospect of an eternal war of each against all; in another version (popular in recent decades) our personal freedom is sustained and implemented by the reciprocal subordination of others to our will - presented as being 'for their own good' - or, 'for the good of the planet'.] 

The situation is that only those who genuinely value freedom as a core and indispensable basis of life, will want Heaven - because heaven (unlike Paradise, Nirvana, or Hell) is a place of creation - and creation entails freedom. 

Yet, this absolute, non-negotiable ideal of freedom also requires a full acknowledgement that freedom is only Good when it is absolutely subordinated to love; and in this mortal life, love is not absolute, therefore freedom will not be subordinated to love either fully or always. 

There is no paradox or conflict here; there is no place for compromise or a 'middle way' - it is a simple reality rooted in the difference between mortal life and heaven, and a recognition that what is not just possible but absolute in Heaven; is only partly possible and never absolute here on earth.

The Christian will desire and value freedom without reservation in Heaven; while recognizing that here on earth there are inevitable and necessary constraints that mean we require discernment; and that the path of Good will usually tend to be expedient, temporary, and involving compromises. 

For this to happen; I submit that Christians must know freedom while in this mortal life; freedom in thinking. And to know this, we need to seek it consciously and explicitly; because the powers arrayed against freedom in thinking are so formidable.

Yet, at the same time, Christians need to discern and be selective about the consequences of this necessary freedom; because love is greater than freedom. In this mortal life, our free thinking may lead us away from love - it may undervalue other persons/ Beings; freedom of thinking may become negative, may be merely freedom-from instead of a positive manifestation of our innate partially-divine nature.

And double-negation (freedom-from) is a spiritual disaster when adopted as a positive life-program; since it so effectively masks a strategy of active evil.  

Love first, creation, freedom... All are needed, and all are indivisible; because related aspects of the same divine motivation - but love must come first. 


Francis Berger said...

Very good! It seems most people's idea of freedom begins and ends at freedom from, but true, positive freedom is freedom for, and the "for" part must be motivated by love. Without it, freedom can indeed become negative, expedient, self-serving and quickly degenerate into unfreedom.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank. Thanks. This post was, indeed, conceived as a contribution to what I regard as our current joint-project on the subject of freedom.

For me, the key point is that freedom is necessary but incomplete - it cannot (therefore should not) be separated from the overall picture of a loving creation. (In Saving the Appearances, Owen Barfield makes a point about things that can be/ should be distinguished; but Not divided.)

The trouble is that we Can make an *abstraction* of isolated/divided-freedom; and the resulting that abstraction-of-freedom is what seems to be what gets debated; and either pushed as a core value, or else demonized as a source of misery. Yet abstract freedom does not and cannot exist.