Some time ago, I wrote a post about choosing the conscious spiritual path. The conscious spiritual path is the path we take to begin to get to know ourselves. That’s a good enough motive as it is, but the reality is that we typically have that choice corrupted by a number of ego desires and motives. And freedom is often not even a part of the conversation.

So we start on the conscious path, and we engage with all kinds of spiritual tools and beliefs as we unintentionally or intentionally seek a variety of ego desires. The person may want to know themselves better, but they also want the soulmate. They want to attract more money. They want to live their best life, which is so utterly vague that it makes this idea totally unattainable.

Thus, the conscious spiritual path is rarely about choosing spiritual freedom; that choice comes later.

Today, I felt like talking about coming to that crossroads where we more deeply or for the first time choose spiritual freedom.

The 3 Things the Ego Really Wants

The ego doesn’t want freedom. It’s most basic goals are pretty simple, and many of you will find that you still want these goals. They are:

  • Happiness,
  • Safety, and
  • Health/healing.

Many of you will have read those three items, and you’ll be like, “Yes. I want those.” But those are not freedom. Those are temporary states, and since they are temporary, they will come and go.

But we don’t want to believe that they are temporary. We want to believe that we can be safe all the time, healthy all the time, and live happily ever after. Yes. You know that last phrase very well if you live in the U.S. and have watched a movie or 10. 

So this is one of the places that the ego has a stranglehold on us, and it’s why so many people fail on the spiritual path in realizing freedom. They want something temporary, and they believe in a deep, deep way that they can make a temporary thing permanent.

Realizing Impermanence

One key moment in truly choosing spiritual freedom is realizing impermanence. When we see that nothing we can do can stop things from changing, something inside of us surrenders. Something inside of us says, “I can’t keep anything.” In that moment, we are breaking from the illusion of permanence that we hold for all the temporary things, relationships, work, and places in our lives. Now, we can get serious on the path to spiritual freedom.

But still, the ego holds on. As I often remind people, spiritual freedom doesn’t come all in one big awakened energy shot in the arm. It’s not that it can’t; it’s because we have so many layers of unconscious ego and attachment. That’s why discipline and dedication are vital to realizing spiritual freedom. Without them, we tend to go back to our old ways of thinking and behaving.

However, after we have a realization like realizing impermanence, something inside stays in awareness. Something inside of us doesn’t want to be fooled anymore, and something inside us more profoundly chooses spiritual freedom for us. From this new level of understanding dawns, our spiritual work and trajectory changes, and we move more directly through and out of the darkness of ego illusion.

How to Find Spiritual Freedom

Spiritual Discipline (Video)

Choosing the Conscious Spiritual Path


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. This article came to me as I just experienced an event with my husband that is bringing so many issues from my childhood up, shaking me to my core. I keep thinking to myself, I wish I could just have that happily ever after. I wish I could just feel safe. I wish I could just heal and be done once and for all. Beside these thoughts I am also having rapid-fire realizations about the falseness of the beliefs that underpin these desires.. But it's really scary to let go. Freedom is really scary, but I have this sense that the more I resist it the more painful it's going to get, and I don't really want to live the rest of my life motivated by fear of loss.

  2. Spot on as usual, Jim. One of the reasons I love your writing is that you point out things that many people really don't want to hear. Thank you!

  3. The ego uses every threat in the book to scare you from freedom, but freedom is not scary. The ego is scary. Go deeper in your inner work.

  4. Paul Johnston Reply

    Yes, spot on Jim. At no point will anything in the physical world ever be permanently "fixed" or "sorted out". Even in the imaginary "happy ever after" scenario, the physical body is still going to decay and die! Once I fully accepted/realised the merely temporary nature of any "thing" or situation, a huge load of anxiety and urgency lifted, and my appreciation of life increased massively.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Paul.

    It's interesting to consider how most people are actively trying to limit the amount of life that they have. They don't want to be free. They try and try to limit life to only the happy and pleasurable stuff, but that primarily creates a whole lot of suffer. When we unlimit ourselves and embrace the freedom of pain and discomfort, we end our suffering and also tend to be happier anyway.

  6. Paul Johnston Reply

    Exactly – people can spend so much time worrying about avoiding "discomfort" (and often a very minor discomfort, like getting rained on), that their appreciation of the present moment gets strangled by an anxious need for certainty (e.g. "I'm not going out if there's a chance of rain"). If the minor discomfort happens, their idea that this thing is intolerable causes them to react with aversion, rather than simply appreciating what's there. Sometimes rain can be soothing. It's the idea that doing/having certain things, whilst avoiding other things else will make you happy that (ironically) makes you unhappy. You're always struggling to "fix" the world in order to make it so, and then struggling to preserve what you have (and you're not going to win that one!)

  7. Yes. There's nothing to fix in the world that can make the ego happy. We only unlearn the problems we create in ourselves.

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