Freedom, real freedom, does exist. But it is not a condition or an event, nor is it found within another person's approval of us. Nor is real freedom ever a mere effect of circumstances, otherwise it is not freedom but merely a temporary pleasure we have mistaken for being the same as being free.

What, then, is real freedom? Where is it to be found? Let us start by saying that freedom is a quality of truth, one of its great branches. And as it has been so timelessly spoken of, it is in realizing the truth of ourselves that we are set free. This is why there is no substitute for the true self-knowledge that follows.

Our present self often feels itself captive because the only way it can "know" itself is through the unconscious comparison of its past experiences to its present circumstances. In other words, this level of self only knows what it is once it has gazed into the mirror of what it was. This realm of reflections represents its entire range of existence.

Anytime life brings along an event that can't be neatly fit into the pre-set realm of this self, it immediately gets shaky. Suddenly finding itself unable to be certain as to the meaning of the unwanted moment, this lower level of self fears the loss of its imagined control. The way it deals with this fear -- in order to regain its lost "powers" -- is to mentally reconfigure its reality until once again comfortable in its self-constructed kooky kingdom. But here is the point of describing all of this to you.

Without our awareness of this interior kingdom and its covert operations that keep us captive, we are little more than prisoners confined to the limitations of this level of consciousness. But this construed consciousness is not our true consciousness. Stated another way, this limited realm at the root of our present reality is not the whole kingdom available to us. It is in our seeing the truth of this, and what it intimates to us about the potential of our true self, that the path to freedom is revealed. For now we know: We must leave this self behind. And this action requires learning to take conscious, spiritual risks. What is a spiritual risk?

A spiritual risk is any action we will take based upon our willingness to challenge our own certainty that our present state of consciousness represents the full measure of life's possibility. Here is one simple example: Maybe we feel as though no one understands our situation or that no one is being sensitive to the pressure we're under. During these times most of us feel the strong need to complain to someone – anyone (including ourselves) – in order to win some sympathy. The conscious risk in this case is to give no voice to any complaints, either outwardly or inwardly.

Whenever we feel ourselves certain that we are a captive of something – be it anything from a fear of proceeding with a wish, to that feeling of being inadequate to getting through a task– we remember in this same self-defining moment that this reality before our eyes is, at best, only a partial one. And then, as unthinkable as it seems to us in this same moment, as certain as we may feel that real freedom is beyond our reach, we make the conscious leap into the “Wild New Yonder.” What does this mean? What is the Wild New Yonder? The idea seeded into these words from a famous old song speaks to our inherent longing to be free of limitations, to reach into uncluttered, open spaces within ourselves wherein all is free and filled with promise.

Once we realize that our present view of self, a view that defines our reality, is a construct of a certain level of our own consciousness – one that's convinced the limit of its present view is the limit of its possibility – we also realize the need to leave this self-limited world behind us.

Knowing the makeup of this world we must abandon; we have but one choice: Let go of who we are sure we are and make a leap into the Wild New Yonder. Our new and conscious choice is to discover what awaits us in the open-ended reality.

Nothing can stop us from taking this leap into all that we may be, other than this mistaken and unconscious conviction we have of who we already are – a mindset supported by the strange comfort we find in clinging to who we have been.

Find the places in your life where you can take these conscious, spiritual risks. The liberation you win will be the repeated discovery that the only thing holding you captive is yourself. Make nothing more valuable than your inner work to enter into the Wild New Yonder.

Excerpted from The Seeker’s Guide to Self-Freedom by Guy Finley

Author's Bio: 

Guy Finley is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and bestselling self-help author. He is the Founder and Director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for transcendent self-study located in Merlin, Oregon. He also hosts the Foundation’s Wisdom School — an online self-discovery program for seekers of higher self-knowledge. Guy livestreams two free talks a week. Each talk is followed by an open Q&A session. To register visit