On the acorn side of surrender, freedom almost always means what Thomas Merton calls “choice freedom.” It’s about having the means to do what I want, go where I want, say what I want, buy what I want. What the acorn usually doesn’t see is how much these apparently “free” choices are actually dictated by cultural conditioning and the hidden agendas of the lower self, with its compulsive wanting and needing.
Real freedom, according to spiritual teaching, does not mean “choice freedom” but rather “spontaneity freedom,” in Merton’s words. A modern Sufi master, Sara Sviri, cuts to the heart of this with powerful words: “When the heart surrenders willingly to the Divine hold, it becomes free of the manipulations of the lower self. Paradoxically, such freedom is reflected by a letting go of choices.” Quoting an 11th Century Sufi master, she summarizes the classic spiritual teaching: “Man does not become a true servant until he becomes free of all but God.”