The Oxford Dictionary defines liberation as:
‘the act of setting someone free from slavery, imprisonment or oppression’.
Liberation, therefore, has both inner and outer dimensions which are intrinsically inter-related because if we are not free inside ourselves, it will inevitably limit our ability to live a liberated outer life, even if the society we live in is a relatively free one. The same can hold true the other way around as well.
Many of us, therefore, need liberating not only from what oppresses us internally and which prevents us realising who we really are, but also from a society where economic, religious, societal and cultural forces oppress us. It is just as incarcerating to being a slave to negative habits, restrictive thoughts and tendencies to feel paranoid and depressed, as it is to live in countries with regimes that spy on us all the time, or where societal fault lines means we have to devote so much effort simply to survive that we are allowed no space to be creative or time to experience enjoyment.
I see one of the great problems of the world today is that too many of us are enchained both ways and the result is a huge amount of unhappiness all around. In many Western nations, fault lines in society may activate predispositions inside many of us to feel soulless and empty resulting is us having hearts full of greed, aggression, insecurity, pain, fear and resentment as opposed to love, compassion, altruism and wisdom. And this huguely weighs us down.
In my last book, Gateways to the Soul, I explored certain societal conditions required that I felt would encourage external liberation and in so doing, create a context favourable for possible internal liberation. Here are a few of the most relevant ones…
I believe that a corporation that encourages employees to be open and friendly with each other and thus to wear their humanity on their sleeve, is one of the most important things for its success. Certainly, working to create such a culture is very central to my corporate work.
For me, there are three main kinds of madness (I won’t here elaborate on the many different, subtle strands of each): I call them cuckoo madness, divine madness – these two sometimes link up together – and normal madness. And the most dangerous and the most toxic of all is normal madness. Why?
Because all those millions of us who suffer from this debility operate out of the illusion that we are utterly sane and that those who see the world differently from us are insane. So let me say a few words about each…
Here is an email I sent to a very intelligent, eccentric and vulnerable client going through a difficult patch. I think it is something we all need or needed to hear at some point in our lives:
I hear you very strongly my dear friend. In a way your non resonation with the normal world is a sign of you being one of the new kind of people being born today to take our planet into new arenas. I often feel the same kind of non connectedness with conventional people, only I can bullshit by pretending to be one of them so they’ll feel comfortable with me. The difference between us is that I’m a better bullshitter than you.
One of the reasons why the press has had such a field day with Tony Blair following the publication of the Chilcot report, is that we love to find fault with people, especially if they are wealthy and famous and have committed some indiscretion. And Blair, who took our country into an illegal war that should never have been fought, features on all three counts. He exaggerated the threat of the WMDs, he went to war even though peaceful options had not been exhausted, and he made no preparations for peace. He tried too hard to please the Americans.
There is a character in a Thomas Mann novel who says: ‘If a way to the better there be, it lies in our taking a full look at the worst’. In other words, we need, all of us personally, and nations nationally, to confront our dark side or our shadow. In America, one is seeing this via Trump – maybe he is a gift, as he embodies one aspect of thy country’s very dark face – and only if we can see and then confront the dragon, can we properly transform it, and maybe over here with this referendum, we have to confront our egos.
Depression is a terribly debilitating condition and in this chaotic world of ours with its topsy-turvy values, lifestyles that have become increasingly inorganic and artificial and a media constantly feeding us doses of gloom and doom, it is, very sadly, on the increase. How does it affect us? It drains us of our life force. It makes us feel bad about ourselves and dislike ourselves. When depression comes over us, we live in a world where the glass is always half empty. If severe, it can compel us to hide away from life and many depressed people drink or take drugs to try to numb the pain.
We need to know that there are many different kinds of depression and they occupy many different levels on the spectrum. For me, they fall into five main categories:
A few years ago, I used to feel there was a dichotomy between my roles as psychotherapist and social activist. Increasingly, I am coming to see where they converge, as many of our personal difficulties mirror social problems and many social and economic problems are reflected in our emotional symptoms.
Interestingly, what I have also found with my clients, is that those people heal their emotional wounds much more quickly to the extent that they are willing to stand up for social values they believe in and see their lives not solely from a personal viewpoint – what do I want; what’s in it for me? – but who also experience being part of a larger whole and needing in some way, to live in a way that contributes to this larger whole of life. In other words, if many of our personal problems revolve around our not experiencing enough “meaning” in our lives (as when we subscribe to society’s diminishing description of us as mere “consumers” (Yuk!), I have found that the more we commit ourselves to, as Gandhi would put it, being “the change we want to see happen”, i.e., trying to actually embody the values we believe in in how we live our daily lives, the happier we feel.
We need more imaginative ways to look at the whole issue of addictions and how addicts are to be healed, for as I see it, the addict embodies an aspect of the sickness of our society, which is why I think that the whole idea of a ‘war against drugs’ and the criminalising of the addict is sopernicious.
We must understand that the addict suffers from a spiritual malady, a wound to the soul which only the injection of soul can truly heal. I believe we all have a need to bond intimately with someone or something – it makes us feel whole – and our not having a society around us enabling us to do this with or conversely, being ourselves wounded in this capacity and so not able to do so, makes us feel empty and therefore liable to fall prey to something we can more easily bond with.
Questioner. ‘I am very concerned about the current financial crisis. How can I maintain positive energy and increase my luck in amidst the worries and uncertainties, and what can I do to help benefit those around me?’
Serge. This is a very important question you ask, because in effect you are saying ‘How can I remain positive and not be part of a mind-set of anxiety and negativity that is currently sweeping the world and which is conspiring to keep the financial system in crisis. Indeed, the way we perceive money, which, esoterically, has been described as the most ‘concretised form of divine energy’, has a lot to do with how well money does for us. As such, there is a strong connection between positive energy and being lucky.