Freedom Is The Ability To Compel Oneself to Work

What do we mean by freedom in Logopraxis work?

Freedom is understood by most people to be a state of being under no constraints and so free to do whatever it is they want to do. The common understanding of freedom in this respect would equate it to a feeling of bliss, of living with no pressure, in a kind of abandonment of spirit, in the absence of anything that would bring disruption or feelings of discord into our experience of life. This understanding of freedom is often associated with a desire for a permanent state that involves the kind of intense feelings of release which we might experience in the rush of relief that comes when conditions we desperately want to be free from suddenly change. The freedom promoted in the world is often nothing more than being “freed” from the responsibilities we feel are “forced” upon us due to finding ourselves in conditions or circumstances that we regard as not of our making or choosing. This concept of freedom, however, is purely an external one, it is wanting to be free of external constraints that we mistakenly see as the cause of our feeling inwardly out-of-sorts. The mistaken belief is that ‘if conditions change more to my liking so that they are more agreeable and fitĀ in with what I want, then I will be free with no demands made on me and so will be happy’. This may be a little simplistic but it kind of captures the key elements in a much more complex picture.

This natural concept of freedom is not what is meant by freedom in regard to living a spiritual life for it’s a concept that equates freedom with a “life of ease” (see Arcana Coelestia 454) which is not the life of heaven or a life that can foster true happiness, fulfilment, and meaning as its by-product. We are all familiar with the statement,

If you should be remaining in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will be making you free. John 8:32-33

Now if by being made free, we understand having what we find disagreeable removed then the result will be confusion – “I love the Lord and my neighbour, I read the Word, go to church, act charitably yet I find myself beset with problems. My life seems to be filled with conflicts, and things aren’t going to plan.” Or “Since doing Logopraxis things seem to be getting worse, I just don’t feel free.” This kind of thinking and its infinite number of variants all flow from a misunderstanding of the kind of freedom that truth offers.

The freedom we receive from truth is the freedom to work spiritually. It is the freedom to bring a different state of mind to the conditions of life that we have to deal with. All work involves effort and far from being released from difficulties, we instead are empowered by the Lord as the Word to engage with them differently. Freedom, spiritually understood, is the experience of compelling oneself to hold to what the Word teaches in the face of what appearances presented to our senses would have us believe. This is why it is said that in times of temptation a person is in greater freedom than in times when they are not in temptations – by which is meant that they are having to exercise a greater degree of self-compulsion or effort to resist whatever it is they are having to deal with. The ability to compel oneself is……the exercise of freedom. This is only possible due to the presence of truths from the Word taken into the life. When we act from truths, it is the Lord acting through us, for He is those truths. The principle is that all spiritual effort is a product of acting as if of ourselves but acknowledging that this ability is from the Lord alone.

In our work with Logopraxis we take tasks drawn from the Text. What are we doing when we do this? We are creating conditions that form the basis for opportunities towards exercising freedom through self-compulsion. You no doubt have noticed that when you look to implement a task all kinds of difficulties arise that seem to stand in opposition to doing it. The presence of these difficulties and resistances gives us something to work against and if we do that work from the Text, then we are in the experience of the Lord building a new will within our growing understanding of truths. Without resistance, there is no opportunity provided for self-compulsion and the building of a new will in spiritual matters. So, in summary, from a Logopraxis perspective; Freedom is the ability to compel oneself to work….

References for Reflection

Arcana Coelestia 454. Some think that heaven consists in a life of ease, in which they are served by others; but they are told that there is no possible happiness in being at rest as a means of happiness, for so everyone would wish to have the happiness of others made tributary to his own happiness; and when everyone wished this, no one would have happiness. Such a life would not be an active life, but an idle one, in which they would grow torpid, and yet they might know that there is no happiness except in an active life. Angelic life consists in use, and in the goods of charity; for the angels know no greater happiness than in teaching and instructing the spirits that arrive from the world; in being of service to men, controlling the evil spirits about them lest they pass the proper bounds, and inspiring the men with good; and in raising up the dead to the life of eternity, and then, if the souls are such as to render it possible, introducing them into heaven.

From all this they perceive more happiness than can possibly be described. Thus are they images of the Lord; thus do they love the neighbour more than themselves; and for this reason heaven is heaven. So that angelic happiness is in use, from use, and according to use, that is, it is according to the goods of love and of charity. When those who have the idea that heavenly joy consists in living at ease, idly breathing in eternal joy, have heard these things, they are given to perceive, in order to shame them, what such a life really is, and they perceive that it is a most sad one, that it is destructive of all joy, and that after a short time they would loathe and nauseate it.

Divine Providence 145[5]. Self-compulsion is not inconsistent with rationality and freedom. I have already explained [103-104] that we have inner and outer thought processes and that these are as distinct from each other as prologue and consequence, or as height and depth. I have explained that because they are so distinct, they can act separately as well as together. They act separately when we talk and act on the basis of our outer thought in ways that differ from our deeper thought and intent; and they act together when we say and do what we think and intend inwardly. This latter state is characteristic of honest people, while the former is characteristic of dishonest people.

[2] Since the inner and outer processes of our minds are distinct, then, the inner can even fight against the outer and forcibly make it consent. The struggle starts when we think of evils as sins and therefore try to refrain from them; since to the extent that we do refrain a door is opened for us. Once this door has been opened, the Lord expels the compulsions to evil that have kept our inner thought processes penned in. In their place, he plants desires for what is good, again in the inner levels of our thought. However, since the pleasures of our compulsions to evil that have been besieging our outer thought processes cannot be expelled at the same time, a fight starts between our inner and outer thinking. The inner thinking wants to expel those pleasures because they are pleasures in evil deeds and are incompatible with the desires for goodness that the inner thinking now enjoys. It wants to replace the pleasures of evil with pleasures in goodness because they are in harmony with it. The “pleasures in what is good” are what we refer to as the benefits that arise from our caring.

The struggle begins with this disagreement; and if it becomes more severe, it is called a temptation.

[3] Since we are human because of our inner thought, which is actually the human spirit, it follows that we are compelling ourselves when we force our outer thought processes to consent, or to accept the pleasures of our inner desires, the benefits that arise from our caring.

We can see that this is not inconsistent but in accord with our rationality and freedom, since it is our rationality that starts this struggle and our freedom that pursues it. Our essential freedom, together with our rationality, dwells in our inner self, and comes into our outer self from there.

[4] So when the inner conquers (which happens when the inner self has brought the outer self into agreement and compliance) then we are given true freedom and true rationality by the Lord. Then, that is, the Lord brings us out of that hellish freedom that is really slavery and into the heavenly freedom that is truly, inherently free.

The Lord teaches us in John that we are slaves when we are in our sins and that the Lord liberates us when we accept truth from him through the Word (John 8:31-36).

Arcana Coelestia 1937{3]. ..those who have practiced self-compulsion and set themselves against evil and falsity – even though at first they had imagined that they did so of themselves, or by their own power, but had after that been enlightened to the effect that their effort originated in the Lord, even the smallest of all the impulses of that effort – in the next life cannot be led by evil spirits, but are among the blessed. This shows that a person ought to compel himself to do what is good and to speak what is true. The arcanum Lying within this is that in so doing a person has a heavenly proprium bestowed on him from the Lord. This heavenly proprium is formed within the effort of his thought; but if he does not maintain that effort through self-compulsion – as this appears to be the way it is maintained – he does not by any means do so by abstaining from self-compulsion.

Divine Providence 147. Let me briefly mention how the Lord expels the compulsions to evil that besiege our inner self right from our birth, and how he provides desires for what is good in their place when we use our apparent autonomy to put away evils as sins.

I have already explained [75, 139] that we have an earthly mind, a spiritual mind, and a heavenly mind, and that we are wholly locked into our earthly mind as long as we are caught up in our compulsions to evil and their pleasures. During all this our spiritual mind is closed. However, as soon as we look into ourselves and realize that our evils are sins against God because they are against divine laws, and therefore try to refrain from them, the Lord opens our spiritual mind and comes into our earthly mind by way of its desires for what is true and good. He comes also into our rational processes and from there rearranges the things in our lower, earthly mind that have been in disorder. This is what feels to us like a battle, or like a temptation if we have indulged in these evil pleasures a great deal. There is actually a psychological pain when the pattern of our thoughts is being inverted.

This is a battle against things that are actually within us, things that we feel are part of us; and we cannot fight against ourselves except from a deeper self, and only because of a freedom there. It then follows that the inner self is fighting against the outer self at such times, is doing so in freedom, and is forcing the outer self to obey. This is self-compulsion; and we can see that it is not inconsistent with our freedom and rationality, but quite in accord with them.

Arcana Coelestia 1947. self-compulsion there is freedom, that is, what is willing and spontaneous, and that this distinguishes self-compulsion from being compelled…without this freedom, or willingness and spontaneity, a person cannot possibly be reformed and receive any heavenly proprium; also that though the contrary seems to be the case, there is more freedom in times of temptation than there is outside of them.

Arcana Coelestia 7914. The good of innocence, which is the good of love to the Lord, is not received by one who belongs to the spiritual Church unless he exercises self-compulsion; for the belief that the Lord is the only God, and also that His Human is Divine, does not come easily to him. Therefore, since he is short of faith, no love to Him, or consequently any good of innocence, can be present in him unless he exercises self-compulsion.

Miracles and Signs 11. I have talked with the angels on the subject that man ought to compel himself to do good against his own lusts, and that he ought to compel himself to believe truths contrary to his own opinions; but that he should not be compelled to do so. They told me that self-compulsion is a mark of freedom, because it springs from an interior affection, and that to be compelled is not from freedom, but is from an exterior force.

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