Desert Overlook, with People Shadows, ® 2022, Eric Platt
Desert Overlook, with People Shadows, ® 2022, Eric Platt

Love, Freedom, and Relating, Revisited

“Love and freedom cannot be separated.” —Francis Lucille

This is a paraphrase of what the Advaita (non-duality) teacher Francis Lucille said, since it’s been a few years since we had the dialogue — but is the essence of what was said. The conversation was spurred by my commenting on a recent visit to a restaurant that was run by a religious order whose members live in a commune. I’d read some of their colorful literature out of curiosity, and they talked of how they were an alternative to a society that lacks love and moral guidance for children and adolescents — e.g., teens that are lost and corrupted by the lack of values — and they felt they stood as a alternative to that, where true love and community could be experienced.
However I also learned from those outside the community that this “love” came at a price, such as the community considering children, and wages earned for example, as essentially community property, such that parents had to sue to gain access once they left the commune, and that many strict rules resulted in behavior such as physical punishment of children to make sure they followed the edicts of the religion, even of they didn’t say anything against it.
Francis then mentioned the mixture of tribalism (a phenomenon at the worldly level so to speak, from our ancient origins as social animals and clans) and the insights and revelations at the core of religions, the “mystical” values transmitted by “prophets” that get mixed in with tribalism, or handed down and distorted, filtered through the seeming necessity of social and material living, and of course ignorance (in the Sanskrit sense of Avidyā: ignoring true Self, identifying with a sense of a separate self).
Indeed, in our personal relating with friends and family, and others, we are very sensitive to any sense of control or manipulation, since we know instinctively, at the core of our being, that it is not love. It is usury, so to speak: as if love had a price (if we choose to go along with it).
And yet, we set up relations with others that have implicit or explicit “agreements” of exchange or transaction. Many relationships and family setups, private clans as it were, are based in this kind of conditionality and trading, and in fact it seems part of our growth on this path can involve untangling ourselves from these, not holding on to old friendships, relations, work habits, mental habits, whatever. This can all be internal, and says nothing about behavior, at first…
This is a natural outgrowth of alignment with Truth, an allowing of a greater internal freedom allowing itself to express itself. At time it can be very hard for those seeing this to understand that it is impersonal (in my experience), or even know ourselves at times why we or others do what we do, until reflected on later: that is, whether our perception and behavior was impersonal, or based on a personal, unfree reaction (“ignorance”) which acts mechanically, blindly, automatically, unconsciously, however you want to say it. In such a case, one has to be very still and honest within, to see it was based on the belief in “others” and a separate self and world…



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