The spiritual magnetism of free people

Siri Myhrom
7 min readJun 3

A powerful distinction I’ve learned from the Jesuits that I use as a discernment tool in everyday life. 06.06.23

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

The Jesuits talk a lot — like a lot — about freedom.

And what I’ve come to see is that they really mean it, and they also have a very sophisticated understanding of what spiritual freedom is and what it looks like in our lives and out in the world.

Our cultural and politicized version of freedom has come to mean something quite shallow and disconnected: it means to be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want, often with little or no awareness of others, because I am the gravitational center of my own universe. It worships the individual as the only ultimate reality, and it presupposes that we are not intimately interconnected, contrary to what every single wisdom tradition (including the teaching of Christ) asserts.

In many ways, commercialized new-agey spirituality and cultural christianism operate inside the same paradigm: it’s doesn’t really matter why we do things, only that we achieve certain externally-visible outcomes.

In this (I would say limited) understanding of freedom, happiness comes from believing the right things and perfecting the small-s self, in a highly individualized journey that’s centered around my own surface-level desires; ascetic denials; notions of purity (good/bad foods, behaviors, words, affiliations, vibes, etc.); aspirations (enlightenment, heaven, prosperity, success, weight loss goals, Instagram-guru-status, etc.); and my ultimate greatness, as measured by these external things.

Jesus understood freedom much, much differently. He really wanted us to look at what motivates us at the heart. For him, then, real freedom at its root was not so much about freedom to but freedom from.

Meaning, it isn’t a fixation with everything I can have or do or prove or accomplish. It isn’t even really about how I feel from moment to moment. It’s an acceptance of the liberation offered from self-obsession, from piled-on external identities, from addictions I use to soothe and numb, from all the things that keep me bound and enslaved to a false idea of myself that is separate, warped, and fragile.

Siri Myhrom

Storyteller. Storylistener.