Which comes first: liberation from the world or liberation from ourselves? I can see why you ask this, though it seems to me a mistake to suppose that the transformations in question are part of a strictly linear process or that the two freedoms are merely sequential.

Using the language of the Christian East, we could say that liberation begins with the overcoming of our fallen slavery to the passions; this is the aim, as you know, of purificatio or catharsis. But the passions are precisely those inward points at which we’re enslaved to the outward world.

Then comes illuminatio or photisis, the second stage of the Way, in which we’re liberated from our nescience, inadvertence, and forgetfulness. You may say that this is a liberation from something inside us, and it certainly is, but it has manifestly outward repercussions. For the cognitive objects of our “common sense” are merely so many seemings and thus little more than a measure of our blindness.

Finally, liberation is completed when we’re set free from all created or natural energies; this is the ultimate goal of unio or theosis. But such energies are at once within and without us: neither the associative thinking of a sinful psychology nor the cardiovascular processes of a fallen physiology would be what they are were it not for the gravity and other “fundamental forces” of a tamasic astrophysics.

To ask which takes priority—inward liberation from oneself or outward liberation from the world—is to forget that we shall be truly free only when we escape the prison walls of this very disjunction.