World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson



The spiritual freedom experienced by those who are released from the fetters of desires and attachments to worldly things is called Liberation, (Skt. moksha). It is an inner experience of freedom that can be present regardless of the person's external circumstances: the saint is free even in prison, while people with all worldly opportunities and unlimited wealth may be caught in dire bondage. The Christian scriptures speak of a comparable experience of Christian liberty that gives the believer an unlimited sense of freedom to live according to the spirit of Christ independent of external custom or constraint. Naturally, people should have the opportunity to realize the fruits of their spiritual liberation in a free society; inner freedom engenders and is completed through external freedom. Salvation as liberation from external oppression will be discussed under Help and Deliverance, pp. 557-68.

Passages in this section first assert that liberation is found only in the presence of God. Next come passages which describe the nature of liberation: release from bondage to desire, peace of mind, freedom to travel throughout the universe of spirit, freedom from the fetters of karma. Several concluding passages assert that the truth, natural law, or divine law is necessary and conducive to liberation. Law is the way to freedom--just as, in driving, rules of the road are required in order to provide one the freedom to travel to any destination in safety. Thus freedom should not be interpreted as freedom to disregard spiritual law; to do so would return one to a state of bondage.

Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.

Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 25.10

Liberation is the best thing, as the moon is best among the stars.

Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.11.22

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Christianity. Bible, 2 Corinthians 3.17

The fetters of the heart are broken, all doubts are resolved, and all works cease to bear fruit, when He is beheld who is both high and low.

Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8

The Self, indeed, is below. It is above. It is behind. It is before. It is to the south. It is to the north. The Self, indeed, is all this. Verily, he who sees this, reflects on this, and understands this delights in the Self, sports with the Self, rejoices in the Self, revels in the Self. Even while living in the body he becomes a self-ruler. He wields unlimited freedom in all the worlds. But those who think differently from this have others for their rulers; they live in perishable worlds. They have no freedom at all in the worlds.

Hinduism. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2

And [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind. to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.

And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Christianity. Bible, Luke 4.16-21

Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8: Cf. Maitri Upanishad 3.2, p. 412; Svetasvatara Upanishad 2.15, p. 843. Chandogya Upanishad 7.25.2: Cf. Acarangasutra 2.173, p. 74. Luke 4.16-21: Jesus is reading from the Old Testament, Isaiah 61.1-2. Historically, Isaiah was proclaiming to a community of impoverished exiles liberation from oppression, captivity, and indebtedness, and the dawn of a new time when God will once again favor Israel with abundance. But for Jesus, it is a proclamation of all-encompassing liberation: release to those captive to sin and enlightenment to the spiritually blind as well as liberty to those suffering external oppression. With liberation comes the fulfillment of all creation, the 'acceptable year of the Lord.'

Desire is a chain, shackled to the world, and it is a difficult one to break. But once that is done, there is no more grief and no more longing; the stream has been cut off and there are no more chains.

Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 948

The quest of pleasure brings nothing but torment abounding; Man thus makes of his evil desires only a shackle about the neck. Thou seeker of false delights, liberation comes only through the love of God.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Ashtpadi, M.1, p. 222

If there is a man who can dominate Satan, the liberation of the spiritual and physical worlds will take place.

Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 2-22-87

Yea, happily he lives, the brahmin set free, Whom lusts defile not, who is cooled and loosed from bonds, Who has all barriers burst, restraining his heart's pain. Happy the calm one lives who wins peace of mind.

Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.137

As the path of the birds in the air or of fishes in the water is invisible, even so is the path of the possessors of wisdom.

Hinduism. Mahabharata 12.6763

He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who has Deliverance, which is void and signless, as his object--his path, like that of birds in the air, cannot be traced.

Buddhism. Dhammapada 93

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.

Christianity. Bible, John 3.8

Open yourself, create free space; release the bound one from his bonds! Like a newborn child, freed from the womb, be free to move on every path!

Hinduism. Atharva Veda 6.121.4

Sutta Nipata 948: Cf. Digha Nikaya ii.276, p. 390; Dhammapada 345-46, p. 418; Milarepa, p. 455. Gauri Ashtpadi, M.1: Cf. Sorath, M.1, p. 454. Anguttara Nikaya i.137: Buddha uses the term 'brahmin' not in the sense of a member of the brahmin caste, but as a title for one who is truly liberated. See Dhammapada 393, 396, p. 279. Mahabharata 12.6763 and Dhammapada 93: The invisible path refers to the fact that the liberated do not leave a trail of karma. This is because whatever he does is done with detachment, without a sense of "I," without any desire for reward. Cf. Bhagavad Gita 4.19-21, p. 775. John 3.8: Cf. Romans 8.26-27, p. 648. Atharva Veda 6.121.4: Cf. Tao Te Ching 55, p. 231.

Immediately after attaining release from all karmas, the soul goes up to the end of the universe. Previously driven [by karmas], the soul is free from the bonds of attachment, the chains have been snapped, and it is its nature to dart upwards. The liberated self, in the absence of the karmas which had led it to wander in different directions in different states of existence, darts upwards as its nature is to go up.

Jainism. Ratnakarandasravakacara 10

He has no branches, how then leaves? Whose root is not in the ground. Who is worthy to praise that man inspired, from bondage free?

Buddhism. Udana 77

When a man is free from all sense pleasures and depends on nothingness he is free in the supreme freedom from perception. He will stay there and not return again.

It is like a flame struck by a sudden gust of wind. In a flash it has gone out and nothing more can be known about it. It is the same with a wise man freed from mental existence: in a flash he has gone out and nothing more can be known about him.

When a person has gone out, then there is nothing by which you can measure him. That by which he can be talked about is no longer there for him; you cannot say that he does not exist. When all ways of being, all phenomena are removed, then all ways of description have also been removed.

Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 1072-76

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Christianity. Bible, John 8.32

No man is free, but he who labors in the Torah.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.2

Ratnakarandasravakacara 10: This is the state of Nirvana; cf. Ratnakaranda sravakacara 131, p. 136. Liberation is also enlightenment; cf. Tattvarthasutra 10.1-2, p. 537. Udana 77: This is the tree of karma of Indian thought, discussed in Bhagavad Gita 15.1-3, pp. 382f. Cf. Svetasvatara Upanishad 3.9, p. 582; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654. Sutta Nipata 1072-76: This is a good expression of the freedom that comes from absence of self. Cf. Mumonkan 8, p. 586; Samyutta Nikaya xxii.59, pp. 899f.; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654; Seng Ts'an, pp. 221f.; Bhagavad Gita 4.19-21, p. 775. John 8.32: Cf. James 1.25, p. 159. Abot 6.2: Cf. Abot 3.6, p. 770; Baba Metzia 10a, p. 670.

That disciplined man with joy and light within, Becomes one with God and reaches the freedom that is God's.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 5.24

Subhuti, if you should conceive the idea that anyone in whom dawns the Consummation of Incomparable Enlightenment declares that all manifest standards are ended and extinguished, do not countenance such thoughts.

Buddhism. Diamond Sutra 27

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery... For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another.

Christianity. Galatians 5.1, 13

Bhagavad Gita 5.24: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 3.31-32, p. 162; Katha Upanishad 2.6.11, p. 840. Galatians 5.1,13: Christian freedom means that the believer is not justified according to how well he or she obeys religious laws. One is justified by faith. Yet in faith, the believer lives by the divine laws because they are helpful in maintaining his or her relationship with Christ. A Christian can still fall into the slavery of passions.


Download entire book in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Copyright Information