Gangaji and I are in Amsterdam right now. We love it here. Besides loving the people, and the culture, we love the freedom here. The Netherlands is perhaps the most advanced human society at protecting both individual freedom and the democratic public space. As societies perhaps we could all learn from the Dutch.
The deepest cry for freedom arises in all of us. Sometimes it is repressed by our own internal mechanisms. We cover over it and ignore it for security or comfort or for being loved. Yet it is there beating in all hearts.
This cry for freedom has now burst forth in Iran. When we recall the great love poems of freedom from Rumi we are hearing the Persian soul in love with love, freedom and truth. Even at the height of their empire thousands of years ago, they were known as the most tolerant of empires for their time, allowing allied states freedom of religion and cultural identity and freedom to leave the association.
But political freedom as we know it is a most modern phenomenon. I have been reading about Thomas Paine of late, and while he was always a hero for me, I had no idea how much he is responsible for the American Revolution. It was Thomas Paine, at Valley Forge, the lowest point of our revolution who issued the call that, "these are the times that try men's souls." He went on to ask if we were only sunshine patriots and summer soldiers, or were we ready to bear all costs in the defense of freedom.
If we were in Tehran today what would we do? Would we say, 'well I would lose my job, or what about the kids,' to keep us off the streets? This is a defining moment in each person's life and we each must choose to either serve our heart, or our mind. This is not to say that there is a correct response. For some staying home is following the heart, for others it is the opposite. No one can judge what another should or should not do. It is not in the behavior but rather, our internal response, that we can see our tests of the heart.
We are one with our brothers and sisters fighting for political freedom everywhere. What we can offer is to take the burning desire for freedom into our own heart; to face our own forces of oppression and repression? What keeps us from full surrender into the freedom and love that is already present? We can examine if this desire has been repressed under our desires for safety or the need to conform. We can examine ourselves and stay true to this burning desire for freedom. We can fully surrender to this call and realize we are this flame of freedom. We are alive and free and in form. Then each one of us becomes a burning beacon that lights the night and guides others on their way home.