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Awakening Inner Freedom

‘If we do not focus on human limits and pathology, what is the alternative? It is the belief that human freedom is possible under any circumstances. Buddhist teachings put it this way: “Just as the great oceans have but one taste, the taste of salt, so do all the teachings of the Buddha have but one taste, the taste of liberation.”

Psychologist Viktor Frankl was the sole member of his family to survive the Nazi death camps. Nevertheless, in spite of his suffering, he found a path to healing. Frankl wrote, “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to chose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to chose one’s own way.”

When we are lost in our worst crises and conflicts, in the deepest states of fear and confusion, our pain can be endless. We can feel as if there is no exit, no hope. Yet some hidden wisdom longs for freedom. “If it were not possible to free the heart from entanglement in unhealthy states,” says the Buddha, “I would not teach you to do so. But just because it is possible to free the heart from entanglement in unhealthy states do I offer these teachings.”

Awakening this inner freedom of spirit is the purpose of the hundreds of Buddhist practices and training's. Each of these practices helps us to recognize and let go of unhealthy patterns that create suffering and develop healthy patterns in their place. What is important about the Buddhist psychological approach is the emphasis on training and practice, as well as understanding. Instead of going into therapy to discuss your problems and be listened to once a week, there is a regimen of daily and ongoing training's and disciplines to help you learn and practice healthy ways of being. These practices return us to our innate wisdom and compassion, and they direct us toward freedom.’

By Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.

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