What is your vision of freedom? Will it give us the license to do whatever we want?
“My vision of freedom is to be yourself.
“It is not a question of getting freedom from something. That freedom will not be freedom, because it is still given to you; there is a cause to it. The thing that you were feeling dependent on is still there in your freedom. You are obliged to it. Without it you would not have been free.”
The freedom to do anything you want is not freedom either, because wanting, desiring to do something, arises out of the mind – and mind is your bondage.
“Freedom from things is dependent on the outside. Freedom to do something is also dependent on the outside. Freedom to be ultimately pure has not to be dependent on anything outside you….
“But the freedom I have been talking about you simply are – in utter silence, serenity, beauty, bliss.”
From Death to Deathlessness; You Are Born Free #23
But in the name of freedom, we fight against anything that tries to control us. What are we not understanding?
“Control is a dirty word. It has not four letters in it, but it is a four-letter word. Freedom, and when I say freedom I don’t mean license. When I say freedom you may understand license because that’s how things go. A controlled mind, whenever it hears about freedom immediately understands it as license. License is the opposite pole of control. Freedom is just in between, just exactly in the middle, where there is no control and no license.
“Freedom has its own discipline, but it is not forced by any authority. It comes out of your awareness, out of authenticity. Freedom should never be misunderstood as license, otherwise you will again miss.
Awareness brings freedom. In freedom there is no need for control, because there is no possibility for license.
“It is because of license that you have been forced to control, and if you remain licentious the society will go on controlling you.
“It is because of your licentiousness that the policeman exists and the judge and the politician and the courts, and they go on forcing you to control yourself. And in controlling yourself you miss the whole point of being alive, because you miss celebration. How can you celebrate if you are too controlled?”
Nirvana: The Last Nightmare: Creativity: A Dynamic Energy #4
So, in order to get rid of the policeman and the politician, we need to understand what freedom really means. Can you explain?
“Freedom has to be understood. It is a very delicate matter, a very subtle matter, one of the most profound, because freedom is equivalent to godliness….
“Three things have to be understood. First, there is a kind of freedom that you are acquainted with: that is freedom from. A child wants to be free of the parents. The slave wants to be free from the master, from the boss. This is freedom from; it is a reaction, it is the ego asserting itself. And I am not saying there is anything wrong in it; you just have to watch the different colors of freedom.
When you are seeking freedom from, sooner or later you will fall into another trap – because it is a reaction and not an understanding. That’s what happened in all the revolutions in the past….
“Freedom from is not true freedom.
“Then there is another kind of freedom: freedom for. The second kind of freedom, which is far better than the first. The first is negative. The second is positive: one wants to be free to do something. For example, you want to be free of your family because you are in love with music. You are not really against the family. You are for music, and the family creates a hindrance, so you escape from the family. You are not against the family, against the parents, but they want you to become an engineer and you want to become a musician.
“And it is good to be a musician even if you have to suffer for it. It is better to be a musician if you really want to be a musician, if you have a passion for it, than to be a successful engineer, rich, comfortable, safe….
“This is the second kind of freedom: freedom for.
“The real freedom is the third kind, the transcendental freedom. What is that? It is neither from nor for; it is simply freedom. It is just freedom. That is moksha: just freedom. Neither against anybody – it is not a reaction; nor to create some future – there is no goal. One simply enjoys being oneself, for its own sake; it is an end unto itself.”
The Secret: Trust Is a State of Your Being #6
It is such a beautiful vision for human beings. Where did it all go wrong?
“Everybody wants freedom as far as talking is concerned, but nobody really is free and nobody really wants to be free, because freedom brings responsibility. It does not come alone. And to be dependent is simple: the responsibility is not on you, the responsibility is on the person you are dependent on.
So people have made a schizophrenic way of life. They talk about truth, they talk about freedom, and they live in lies, they live in slavery – slavery of many kinds, because each slavery frees you from some responsibility.”
The Path of the Mystic: Treasures of Dragons #16
How did we get into this schizophrenic way of life?
“You are born as freedom. It is just that you have been conditioned to forget it. Layers upon layers of conditionings have made you a puppet. The strings are in somebody else’s hands.
“If you are a Christian, you are a puppet. Your strings are in the hand of a God which does not exist, so just to give you the sense that God exists there are prophets, messiahs, representing God. They represent nobody. They are just egoistic people – and even ego wants to reduce you to a puppet.
“They tell you what to do, they give you the Ten Commandments. They give you your personality – that you are a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, a Mohammedan. They give you your so-called knowledge. And naturally, under the great burden which they start giving you from the very beginning of your childhood, the Himalayan load you are carrying – underneath it, hidden, repressed, is your natural self.
“If you can get rid of all conditionings, if you can think that you are neither a communist nor a fascist, that you are neither a Christian nor a Mohammedan. You were not born a Christian or Mohammedan; you were born just pure, innocent consciousness.
To be again in that purity, in that innocence, in that consciousness, is what I mean be freedom.
“Freedom is the ultimate experience of life. There is nothing higher than that. And out of freedom many flowers blossom in you.”
From Death to Deathlessness: You Are Born As Freedom #23
Is this why we keep pretending to want freedom, but in reality keep choosing authoritarian leaders?
“People like Hitler, Mao and Stalin are not born accidentally. They are born only when a whole country desires to be enslaved. Each person eagerly wishes for a man who can stand up and say, ‘I know what is right. Follow me!’ – so that they can follow him. They want to be told clearly what to do and what not to do. This is why we politicians and sadhus and mahatmas….
We are eager to place our burden on others. Freedom seems too heavy for our shoulders. It should actually be the other way around: freedom should give us wings to fly in the sky.”
The Way of Tao, Vol. 2, Talk #4 (In Hindi)
So, it seems that it takes courage to be free!
“Very few people have that much courage. To enjoy freedom, very few people are ready. That’s why a slavery exists in different names around the world.”
The Last Testament, Vol 3; Out of Chaos Stars Are Born #6
If I have the courage to take on the challenge of that freedom, am I choosing to be responsible for my own wellbeing?
“Everybody feels that others are responsible for his misery. The husband thinks the wife is responsible for his misery, the wife thinks the husband is responsible for her misery, the children think the parents are responsible for their misery, the parents think the children are responsible for their misery. It has become such a complexity. And whenever somebody else is responsible for your misery, you are not aware that by giving the responsibility you are losing your freedom.
“Responsibility and freedom are two sides of the same coin….
“Naturally, if misery comes from others, then bliss has to come from others. But then what are you doing? You are neither responsible for misery nor are you responsible for bliss – then what is your function? What is your purpose? – just to be a target for a few people to make you miserable and for others to help you and save you and make you blissful? Are you just a puppet?
All the strings are in the hands of others. You are not respectful of your humanity; you do not respect yourself. You don’t have any love for your own being, for your own freedom.”
Beyond Enlightenment: The Master Is a Mirror #9
How is freedom possible in a world full of competing interests?
“Freedom is something inner; it is of the consciousness. You can be free anywhere – chained, in a jail, you can be free – and you can be unfree outside the jail, in your own home, visibly absolutely free, but you will be a prisoner if your consciousness is not free….
“As far as the outside is concerned you can never be absolutely free – let it be clear once and forever. As far as outside is concerned you are not alone, so how can you be absolutely free? There are millions of people around you. On the outside, life has to be a compromise. If you were alone on the earth you would have been absolutely free, but you are not alone.
“On the road you have to keep to the left. And you will feel this is a great bondage: ‘Why? Why should I be forced to be on the left? I am a free man. If I want to walk on the right I will walk on the right. If I want to walk in the middle of the road I will walk in the middle of the road….’
But one man’s freedom becomes so many people’s problem. You are free to be yourself, but you should not be an interference in other people’s lives.
“A man of understanding will respect his freedom as much as he will respect others’ freedom, because if nobody respects your freedom, your freedom will be destroyed. It is a mutual understanding: ‘I respect your freedom, you respect my freedom, then we both can be free.’ But it is a compromise. I have not to interfere with your being, I am not free to trespass on you….
“On the outside we are interdependent. Nobody can be absolutely independent. Life is an interdependence. Not only with people are you interdependent, you are interdependent with everything….
“Everything in existence is interdependent, so you cannot be absolutely free on the outside – and there is no need either.
“Enjoy this interdependence. Don’t call it bondage. It is not dependence, it is interdependence. You are dependent on others, others are dependent on you. It is a brotherhood, it is relatedness. Even the smallest grass leaf is related to the greatest star.
“But in the inner world, in the inner kingdom, you can be absolutely free. So the whole question is of the inner.”
The Dharmapada: The Way of The Buddha Vol. 9: Freedom is Something Inner #4
How can I discover freedom?
“Watch, witness the whole process of your thoughts. And slowly, slowly you will see you are neither anger nor greed, neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian, neither Catholic nor communist. Slowly, slowly you will be aware that you are not any thought – you are not mind at all. You are a pure witness.
The experience of pure witnessing is the experience of total freedom, but it is an inward phenomenon.
“And a man who is inwardly totally free has no hankering to be outwardly free. He is capable of accepting nature as it is.
“Create inner freedom through witnessing. Sannyas is only for the inner freedom. And live out of inner freedom and then you will be able to see the interdependence on the outside. It is beautiful and it is a blessing. There is no need to rebel against it. Relax into it, surrender to it. And remember: only a person who is really free can surrender.”
The Dharmapada: The Way of The Buddha: Freedom Is Something Inner #4
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