What is freedom to you? We put a lot of effort in working hard for more vacation time, to retire early, and to make more money in the pursuit of freedom, which equals happiness in our culture. Some even detach from worldly possessions and expectations to pursue this liberation. Freedom is liberation of the mind—to be free from all suffering.
Are we really free from the incessant chatter in our minds- from the stories that we re-play of our past, from the worry of what will be? There is an idea that until you lose everything you can’t know freedom. An addict has to hit rock bottom before they realize that what they were running from was the constraints of the mind; what they were running towards was an illusion created in the mind.
My experience of freedom has been the deconstruction of the prison in my mind. It began with an awareness that I was imprisoned by my own thoughts and clinging to someone else ideas of right living. It has taken the constant practice of self-discovery and observation to breakdown that kind of intellectual conditioning. Buddhist teachings say Dharma is a discipline that leads to Freedom. Most think that discipline and freedom are opposing ideas. It takes more discipline to live free than to follow blindly. Freedom requires strength. Gandhi said, “Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in your choices in the face of an obstacle.” Freedom requires practice—to play the piano, to communicate to your partner, to move freely in the world requires practice.
I ask you to look at what freedom is for you. Are you truly free if you follow the beliefs programmed from childhood and what society dictates? We must tread lightly with the ideas of another’s freedom. We might each find the right path for ourselves viewing all things equally without hate or judgement. Please don’t misunderstand me. We need a teacher’s guidance on this path; however, clinging to his/her ideas becomes problematic and another form of attachment.
For me, freedom is coming home to the truth of the moment over and over again—observing through the lens of an open heart and a quiet mind. Can you find freedom in the chaos as well as when the unicorns are dancing under the rainbow?