A definition of freedom and liberation by Roberto Assagioli, in his book Transpersonal Development:
“The fourteenth group of symbols is that of ‘liberation’. This is related to symbols of development. The removing of the ‘tangles’ is a process of liberation from our complexes and illusions and from the way in which we identify with the roles we play in life, with the masks within us and with our idols, etc. It is a ‘release’, according to the etymology of the word, a liberation and awakening of hidden potential.
In this process of liberation, there is an initial stage characterized by dualism: we must actually disassociate ourselves from the body, from the emotions and from that small personal “I”, and when this is accomplished, we will then be able to see ourselves as distinct from them and be able to transform them.
The symbolism of liberation has pervaded all of the world’s great religions. In India, the Buddha said, ‘Just as water in the sea is saturated with salt, so all my teaching is saturated with freedom.’ In Christianity St, Paul affirmed the ‘liberty of the Sons of God’. In their encounter with Cato (‘Purgatory I’) Dante has Virgil say the following about him:
He looks for liberty, which is so loved,
As he knows who gives up his life for her.
Translation: C.H. Sisson, Pan Classics
In our own era, during the Second World War, Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the Four Great Freedoms to the world: the freedom of expression; religious freedom; freedom from want; and freedom from fear.
The last of these, freedom from fear, is fundamental, because only when people are freed from fear are they truly free. A simple, unsophisticated expression, albeit a genuine one, of this longing for freedom is contained in Domenico Mondugno’s song ‘Free’, the lyrics of which communicate this longing very effectively.
But we are faced with a paradox here: in contrast with this spontaneous longing for freedom, a person has a simultaneous fear of it! This is explained by the fact that freedom implies commitment, self- control, courage and other qualities of the spiritual life. It has been correctly stated: ‘The price of freedom is continuous vigilance.’ Freedom needs to be reconquered or safeguarded every day, we might even say every moment; it is not enough to ‘become liberated’ once and for all. Even those who do not fully understand this have an intuitive sense of it, and as a result they fear freedom and run away from it. In his novel La Peur de Vivre (Fear of Living), Henri Bordeaux highlights what psychoanalysts refer to as the desire to remain in the preadult stage, or even the desire to regress to the safety of infancy. This sort of desire is frequently encountered, and if we took a closer look at ourselves who knows how many childish, regressive traits we might find. Throughout history there have been those who looked back wistfully to ‘the golden age’. There are countless examples of this type of ‘psychological torticollis’. But this attitude is unproductive and harmful. It is unproductive because any attempt to arrest the powerful mighty flow of life within and around us is doomed to failure. And it is harmful because it can have no positive results – rather it can produce serious mental and nervous disorders.”