What do you think of when you hear the word “freedom? “Many people think of it as being free to act as you please, no inhibitions, nothing holding you up or getting in your way. The dictionary generally gives two main definitions of freedom. One is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. The second is the power or the right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved can be a form of freedom. But the idea that the power and the right to be able to speak or act as you want without any hindrance, is a very limited understanding of freedom.
Because you may be free to choose to speak and to act, you cannot escape the result of these acts. So, are you therefore truly free?
To put it in a more figurative way, freedom is to set man free, rejoicing as the bird in the clear sky, unburdened, and independent. It is breaking free from all limitations to achieve lasting happiness by attaining unconditioned realization of self. Freedom is to be free from all conflict and living in the present with your mind open and aware.
Freedom from yourself is to be free from your thought and conditioning. We would like to be free from painful and ugly memories and unhappy experiences but keep our pleasurable, satisfying ideologies, formulas, and relationships. But to keep the one without the other is impossible, for, pleasure is inseparable from pain.
Is it freedom when you are free from something—free from pain, free from some kind of anxiety? Or is freedom itself something entirely different? You can be free from jealousy, say, but isn’t that freedom a reaction and, therefore, not freedom at all? If your motive is to be free from jealousy, you are already not free of your motive. Similarly, if you expect yourself to be free from jealousy, you’re already not free from your expectations.
Often, and especially in our society, freedom is seen as an ability to choose what you desire. The more choices you have to avail yourself of what you want or desire is seen as a kind of freedom. But aren’t you chained to your desires then? Moreover, isn’t what you chose to choose conditioned and therefore not free?
Freedom throws away every form of dependence. Such freedom implies being completely alone. But can the mind brought up in a culture so dependent on environment and its own tendencies ever find that freedom?
Also, freedom doesn’t mean that just because you are more powerful, you bomb other countries in the face of a conflict, for example. It doesn’t mean that you snub the other person just because you can. Free speech doesn’t mean that you can say whatever comes to your mind. Freedom, while an immense privilege, is actually an enormous responsibility. True freedom always flourishes in a framework of discipline, it always has an order to it. Freedom without a framework, be it at a personal, social, moral or judicial level, is fatal.
So, Freedom is not I-don’t-care-or-whatever-attitude, that’s ignorance. True freedom is I-know-what’s-at-stake-and-therefore-I’ll-act-accordingly.
Ps- this was a speech I’d prepared for an event. The words are mostly not mine. I have used the ideas of Jiddu Krishnamurthi and have also copied Swamiji’s ideas on freedom verbatim. I have also copied from the internet. Some words are mine too. So its a mixed bag of thoughts to make a meaningful speech. Thanks for reading.