The Road To Freedom
From Compulsiveness To Consciousness
Happy New Year, everyone!
The first morning of 2022! We've made it this far. We're still living on this earth together. Facing human mortality all the past two year around, we all must have realised how precious life is! Every day, each second is precious. Let's live each day with love in our hearts, with care in our actions, with smiles on our lips and with joy in our being.
This very first morning of the new year I want to talk about freedom. What is freedom? Why aren’t we free? How to be free? Let’s discuss this together.
What Is Freedom?
The word ‘freedom’ implies there is some bondage. If we see a bird in a cage, we clearly understand what freedom is to the bird. So, let me ask you, do we also live in cages? Do we truly feel free? The answer is a clear NO! We don’t feel free in our hearts. There are so many bondages, aren’t there?
Freedom is that state of being when there are no bondages left. When, like the bird, we get out of our cages and fly freely, that is freedom. In the bird’s case, it is an external state. But, in our case, freedom is an internal state. Our cage is not actually outside. Our cage is actually inside. So, the freedom is also inside. We have to be free internally.
So, the crucial question is—what is this cage we’re talking about? Where is it? Let’s turn to the Upanishads. The Amrita Bindu Upanishad states:
mana eva manushyanam karanam bandha mokshaya.
bandhaya bishayasakta muktaya nirbishayam-manah.
Translation: The Mind alone is the reason of our bondage and also of liberation. Attachment to sense objects (world, in other words) binds us; whereas, non-attachment to the sense objects liberates us.
So, the cage is the mind. And it’s a very complex cage. We’re chained by the mind in a million different ways. By thoughts, emotions, knowledge, fears, desires, actions and so on. But the prime cause of our bondage, as the Upanishads declare, is our attachment (asakti) to this world. Non-attachment (nirasakti) is liberation. But, understand that we’re attached in many layers. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, and at the level of our energy. Do we see this? We may not realise this, but this is so.
Absolute freedom implies freedom from all structures, in every level. Is that even possible? Well, there have been innumerable ‘free souls’ who have walked on this earth. So, we have no reason to be hopeless. The next question is, can we be free by our own efforts? Does the onus of liberating ourselves lie with us completely? Or, do we need a guru or a saviour? Well, in one sense, we have the responsibility. Because nobody else puts us in bondage, it is we who create our bondages. So, it is we who have to make the effort. So, where does a guru come then? A guru comes to take you to the next level. When you’ve done sufficient work on yourself, a guru comes to lead you ahead. A guru’s role is like that of the sun’s. Guru lights up our way. In that light we see everything more clearly. So, don’t be arrogant and think that you’ll do it all yourself. If you don’t know how to swim, you need a boat. Even if you know how to swim, you may not be able to cross the ocean, because it’s too vast and turbulent. Spiritual journey is no different than crossing a vast and turbulent ocean.
A guru is not necessarily a person. All that a guru represents is ‘light’, that light that dispells all our inner darkness. The guru-tattwa may work from inside you. You just need to recognise that light. That’s all.
How Is This Cage Built?
Through ignorance. Ignorance is darkness. In darkness, we don’t see anything, let alone clearly. Similarly, in ignorance, we don’t realise how unconsciously we’re crafting our lives. How we’re creating our bondages. In ignorance, we do things compulsively. We start to develop patterns. And patterns are nothing but different types of compulsions. Patterns rule us all the time. Our sleeping, eating, drinking, talking, actions, thoughts, emotions, desires, fears—all repeat themselves in patterns. Compulsiveness creates these patterns. And these are our bondages. The more compulsive we are, the less freedom we have. Because we act more out of habitual reaction, not out of conscious response. Consciousness breaks all patterns.
Here by consciousness I mean conscious way of living, as against compulsive lifestyle. Where there is ignorance, there has to be compulsions. But where there is awareness or consciousness, there is light of clarity. In that light, all patterns, all compulsions disintegrate. And thus, we become free. If we continue living in compulsive patterns and think that we’ll be free anyway, we’re mistaken. Without breaking all compulsive structures, we cannot be free. Such freedom will only be on the surface. If we have to be free, we have to start living more and more consciously. There’s no other way. Knowledge, experience, intuition doesn’t transform us. They are only catalysts in change. To be free from all our self-made bondages, we have to start living with awareness. Because all these bondages have come out of our unawareness in the first place. Do we see it?
Awareness (or consciousness) is the road to freedom. Ignorance and compulsive cycles trap us in bondage. See your bondages and live more consciously, every day. That’s all.