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  • Writer's pictureHoward Thompson


Psychiatrist, author, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl founded logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy that asserts a search for life's meaning is the central human motivational force. In his autobiographical book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl shared profound insights on "freedom," stating it's “in danger of degrading into mere arbitrariness unless pursued with responsibility.” He even suggested complementing the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States with a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.

Frankl's poignant words reflect the profound correlation between freedom and the inherent accountability it demands. In other words, freedom is not merely the liberty to act but also the acceptance of the ensuing repercussions. This idea finds an echo in the spiritual writings of Emanuel Swedenborg in his opus, Secrets of Heaven.

Swedenborg differentiates between two types of freedom - heavenly and hellish. Heavenly freedom is attained through a willing surrender to one's innermost self and the teachings of the Lord. It is characterised by a conscious effort to humble and discipline our logical reasoning. Such voluntary subjection fosters a sense of heavenly independence, aligning us closer to divine grace.

In contrast, hellish freedom is a misconstrued perception of liberty, characterised by unchecked engagement in falsehoods and evil inclinations, ultimately leading to spiritual bondage. The crucial difference resides in the consequences: while heavenly freedom elevates us, hellish freedom pulls us into a spiritual abyss. True inner worship and spiritual growth are achievable only in the realm of heavenly freedom.

Reflecting on Frankl's insights and Swedenborg's teachings, we learn that true freedom isn't about indulging our desires. Instead, it's about aligning our wishes with those of the Lord. It is in making the Lord's desires our own that we discover authentic freedom.

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