Declaration of Inner Independence

Independence. Freedom. Emancipation. What do these words mean to you on this day?

The Declaration of Independence took a bold stand against oppression by an unfair monarchy. This marked the beginning of our emancipation from that oppression and greater liberty, freedom, and self-governance.

But while those factors provided our fledgling nation with greater social and political freedom, it did not address the powerful and pervasive conditions that keep us oppressed by many other forms of suffering. These forms of suffering spring from our human nature and the inescapable conditions of life. To find release from these, we need a psycho-spiritual emancipation.

The Buddha said simply that he taught about the nature of suffering and the release from it. In the Four Noble Truths, he pointed out the fact of human suffering, the cause of it, that there is a way out, and the path to our freedom. Our stress and suffering is rooted in a craving for comfort and pleasure, and an aversion to discomfort. Buddha instructs us to discern our desire, grasping, and clinging, and helps chart a path of independence from those subtle but powerful habits of mind and emotions.

He also pointed to the truths of all creation: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and the absence of a solid “self”. Recognizing and coming to terms with these facts of life bring a sense of freedom from them. We can’t change those facts, but our relationship to them can change. As the saying goes, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” On the Buddhist path we learn a friendliness and equanimity with the changing conditions of life, and release from the demands of an illusory self.

So on this Independence Day, I wish us all inner freedom, emancipation from the human oppression of craving, grasping and attachment, and the peace that follows.

About Fran D.