My favorite teachings are freedom stories. I once was caught, but now am free / I once was lost, but now am found. In all traditions, people have been gathering together in sacred circles to share stories like these for a very, very long time.
In the Buddha’s teachings, freedom is prominently located in the third noble truth—nibbana, the cessation of suffering. In other words: FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE.
Right now—when the gulf between rich and poor is as deep as it was during the Great Depression, when already chronic anti-Black and anti-immigrant violence has reached epidemic proportions, when we’ve hurt the earth and air and water—we need this teaching more than ever.
When we let the love of freedom illuminate our hearts, when we allow that love to be reflected in our words and actions, there is a kind of joy and energy that bubbles up.
In my understanding, part of our commitment as Buddhists is to practice deeply touching what freedom from greed, hatred, and delusion feels and looks like—not only on the individual level, but in our relationships, communities, institutions, and global political landscape.
When we let the love of freedom illuminate our hearts, when we allow that love to be reflected in our words and actions, there is a kind of joy and energy that bubbles up. It’s the joy of living with integrity, and it has nothing at all to do with getting what we want. This is wonderful, actually, because we have no idea if we’ll get there, as individuals or as a society, in this lifetime.
Reminding ourselves and each other that FREEDOM IS POSSIBLE is sometimes as simple as retelling the story of the Buddha’s awakening, or sharing a moment of awakening from our own lives, or lifting up the story of a community or country where the forces of love have driven out the forces of hatred.
These stories connect us with our highest purpose and potential, and help orient us when the way forward seems unclear. May our hearts and minds remain buoyant as we walk the long road to the happy country, together.