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FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY TO OURSELVES AND FALSEHOOD

Christ liberates us from ourselves through union with him, as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans (6, 1-23). Man in his evolution had a “fall”, and is now a victim of this egoism and pride of his. In Christianity this fall is called “Original Sin” – i.e. the very first sin. No -one knows the precise manner of this fall. It is the tragic reality of our concrete human situation – that we are sinners. It is described through various myths in different religions. In the Bible it is given in the story of Adam and Eve (Genesis, Chs. 1-3). Man became enslaved to sin and to his little ego self and thus needed a Saviour or Liberator, a Messiah (Messiah in Hebrew means “The Anointed One”; in Sanskrit “Abhishikta”; in Greek “Christos” the Christ), a second “Adam”, a new representative for the whole race, a universal Brother, through whom all might rise up again.

As man, Jesus taught “I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10, 10), and called himself the Truth (I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”, Jn.14, 6), affirming that obedience to “the Truth will set you free” (Jn. 8, 30-36). The Christian has been endowed with a new life through Christ who now reigns supreme instead of Sin and Death. The new life means a reshaping of the human person. Baptism, which identifies the Christian with Christ’s death and resurrection, is the beginning of the “self” being transformed. If a person is in union with Christ, he or she is “ dead to sin and alive to God” and insofar as this is actualised, sin and evil hold no more charms for that person.

This freedom which makes us truly alive is a freedom from all that would make our ego-self (ahamkar) grow fatter: freedom from ambition, power, craving for authority, honour, name and fame, and enables the true Self – the “hidden” or “Inner Self” to grow strong, and bring us to the fullness of freedom – to our poornam (plenitude) . Thus St Paul prays for his Ephesians:

“Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power, through his Spirit, for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will, with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.” (Eph. 3, 16-19). It is thus, again through Love alone that one can reach full freedom of the Self and liberation from the slavery to ourselves.

This love of the Self (God) can be known by a mystic’s awareness of it -through love. It cannot be “grasped” – by the mind or the senses – as the Upanishads too constantly remind us: “Not by much learning can the Atman be reached not through the intellect and sacred teaching. It is reached by the chosen of him – because they chose him. To his chosen the Atman reveals his glory” (Katha Upanishad 2, 23).