The answer to the question has real practical value when it is known.
But I don't know it.
I'm guessing that "I" never will!
And yet beyond the knowing of the I, there have been some delightful flashes of recognition here about freedom that I felt to share with you, and to share with you how they occurred.
So...I was listening to a podcast by John Wheeler on Charlie Hayes's blog on "the practical value of this" and I came across a pointer about the nature of freedom and choice that felt like it might be true, but it was also clear that I couldn't quite connect with it. As is often the case, it certainly didn't "make any sense"!
The suggestion was that although there is no-one who chooses, there is a choice. Paradoxically, the choice is to choose what is actually occurring, as opposed to fighting it.
(It's true that doing this doesn't sound much like a choice in the conventional sense).
Then I had two quite strong experiences of knowing that it is true - the first walking down the street where there was a powerful experience of shifting from resisting "my" experience to embracing it. The second was on the dancefloor doing meditative dance, which was very similar - a powerful experience of loving every aspect of what was arising through me and in me.
Once again, revealing the gap between hell and heaven to be paper-thin.
What follows are the words that emerged...
Freedom is always available here and now through choosing what is.
It is not freedom in the conventional sense of “freedom to do anything” or “freedom to choose anything”, which are illusory anyway, because they are just ideas.
It is not freedom from the circumstances of life, but freedom in the circumstances of life.
And although it is not freedom from life’s circumstances, it is freedom from suffering.
It is freedom in the sense that you are unbound and you know yourself as that.
In the paradox of the dream, where it appears that there is someone who chooses, it appears that there is a choice to embrace life as it happens or to resist and reject it.
In the moment of choosing to embrace what is happening, it may be realised that there never was anyone to do the choosing, although there was an apparent choice to be made.
This is tricky to speak of, because to speak of it is to touch on the heart of the mystery of life and who we really are.
And yet we must speak of it, because beyond escape from physical incarceration, it is the only freedom worth the name.
A previous question I posed myself was:
How to be with strong/difficult feelings or sensations that arise?
It turns out that this is a misstated question. Or even a non-question.
Being with the feelings isn't just easy, it's more fundamental than that -
It's a done deal.
The feelings are already the case.
That I am with them is already the case.
I am with the feelings whether I like it or not.
There is no choice here.
If there is a choice it is to choose the feelings (that I'm already having).
The question now becomes: how can I enjoy the feelings I'm actually having?
Where is the satisfaction in the feelings I'm having?
In answering this question the focus shifts from the future-oriented trying-to-change-how-it-is to the present oriented loving what is.
And as it does, there is freedom.