Freedom from selfishness and greed

2013-01-31 19:29:09

As February dawns, the focus is on the 65th Independence Day which will be celebrated with the usual pomp and pageantry on February 4 in the strategic Eastern Port City of Trincomalee. However the Anglican Church has called on its members to commemorate February 4 as a day of lamentation for the breakdown of the rule of law and the end of constitutional democracy in the aftermath of the illegal and unconstitutional impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. Colombo’s Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dhiloraj Canagasabey, in a prophetic and courageous message, has called on the congregation to fast, wear white and take part in a lamentation service to be held at the Cathedral on Monday. Hundreds of people from other religions, lawyers, and civic action groups are also expected to take part in this lamentation service which may turn out to be a rallying point for a people power movement to launch a non-violent struggle for the restoration of democracy, independence of the Judiciary, the rule of law, accountability, good governance and transparency.

Amid the pageantry on one side and the lamentation on the other, Independence Day is a time for deep reflection on what real freedom means. Basically we have political freedom, personal or physical freedom and most importantly a deep inner spiritual freedom.

All people are born enslaved to the self-destructive vices of selfishness and greed. Until we are spiritually liberated from this slavery, most of us are hypocrites or sanctimonious humbugs in the great drama of life. When Shakespeare, a bard with a spiritual insight wrote that the world is a stage and we are actors or actresses, he was not referring only to Romeo and Juliet. Until we are liberated from selfishness and greed, we put up an act in society. One thing inside and another outside. Inside there is selfishness and greed, jealousy and anger, pride, bitterness and unforgiveness. But we pretend to be loving and peaceful, generous and good. We are great pretenders. The inner nature is seldom in harmony with our external behaviour. So we go on acting. Others know we are acting, and we know they are acting. So the great deception and double games go on until they lead to self-destruction and the destruction of all.

That is why inner liberative spirituality is vital, especially for political and other leaders. If they are not experiencing gradual inner liberation from selfishness and greed, they are deceiving the people by pretending to serve them, while the political leaders are seeking personal gain or glory, power, prestige and cheap popularity. In the process they plunder the wealth and resources of the people through corrupt methods and build bigger barns or secret Swiss bank accounts for themselves. Tragically this is what is happening in Sri Lanka to a large extent. We hope at some stage there will be a spiritual turn around and our politicians will give sincere, servant leadership to the people while becoming just stewards of the country’s wealth and resources.

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