“The right to free speech is more important
than the content of the speech.”
Audio of Soul Freedom
Life is meant to be lived from a happy state of being. We may think that to be responsible may cramp our style, but responsibility is actually the path to freedom. Sometimes we may even be single; without any commitments to anyone; with no bondages; free to do what we want; dress the way we want and have a ‘get up and go’ attitude. Yet, I have seen that such people still experience certain subtle bondages in life which makes them feel trapped and paralysed.
We might think we are free because… we own a comfortable house; we have enough money in our bank account; or we live in a country that allows freedom of expression, which is no small thing nowadays! But is that really the full extent and measure of our freedom? And if we are so free then why is it that we are not happy? Shouldn’t people who are free be happy?
In many forms of meditation there is the practice of going beyond the body and the consciousness of the body. Of course the body confines us to time and space and has its limitations, but the body can be a big trap too. So, if we are to have a super human experience that is beyond the limitations of matter, then we need to allow our consciousness to move away from the cage of this body.
It is all a question of balance and maintaining the health of the body, without being obsessed by our own physical costume or that of others. The ancient sages would spend their whole lives trying to attain such a stage of being ‘beyond’ the pull of the body, this is why they spent so much time in meditation and communing with Nature.
Another important point is that we are much more than the body. Everything about our life is associated with our name, clan, social class, gender, education, skills, accomplishments, religion, nationality, our assets and possessions, and more. Yet, all these are part of a temporary experience.
There is more to us than just the body and the brain, this is why we have seen so much expansion of scientific research into the area of outer body and near death experiences. Although the body is technically ‘dead’, there is still the existence of the being, who is watching whatever activities are going on below. As spiritual beings we are eternal lights, sometimes we call this consciousness, the being, soul, ruh, spirit or the atma.
When one goes in front of God, and in every faith there exists some concept of a meeting with our Maker, so to speak. Then how does one go? When our time is up we cannot take this body with us. We enter this world with nothing, and we will depart in the same way, and then there will just be our essence. A soul, naked, free from the trappings and frills of this body.
So, the first gross bondage that does not allow us to experience freedom is the wall of this body, and the second bondage is the subtle list of trappings of name and identity as mentioned above. All these trappings will determine our actions and the direction of our life. For example, if we were born into royalty, we will be bound to behave and conduct ourselves in a certain manner. There will be certain moral and social obligations expected of us. Basically, there will be a standard of behaviour that we should adhere to. We cannot just speak in any tone, or walk out onto the street to go to the supermarket. We have seen what happens, when one is born into royalty and does not want to accept one’s fate or fortune.
So now let us come to the more subtle bondages which do not allow the soul to become free.
“The freedom of speech is an important yardstick
for a society’s level of civilization.”
Our Way of Thinking
If we are caught up in a tribal, limited, judgemental way of thinking, then we cannot be free. Why, when everything is evolving and changing rapidly, can our way of thinking not change too? Earlier, the belief was that women were not ‘capable’ of many things. During the Second World War, because of the absence and shortage of men, many women took on the jobs of men. They worked in the factories, on the farms, driving trucks and many more jobs which before would have been exclusively male. It was not for the want of ability, but more the lack of training and opportunity. When the gender bias was not there, when there was fair pay of opportunity, then women generally performed as well as men.
When we are closed and rigid in our thinking, then we are the ones who do not progress. We are deceiving ourselves. We trap ourselves within our own inner world of sometimes medieval thinking. We have to stay open to develop and grow. This openness is not just important for the individual, but to society as a whole. We have to overcome our self-imposed limitations and beliefs, along with those socially imposed limitations.
“As long as men are free to ask what they must,
free to say what they think, free to think
what they will, freedom can never be
lost and science can never regress.”
Let’s look at a few other subtle bondages:
Our ego, our stubbornness has and always will get the better of us. When we have the attitude that we are right and everyone else is wrong, this is a death trap for the soul. Of course the soul does not die, but it becomes closed to all wisdom, learning, growth and to new pieces of knowledge. Look at the scientists, they are always refining and learning new knowledge that is where growth lies.
The ego blinds us and stops us from making the best choices. The ego continues to follow its own mindset and that is how we kill our own conscience. The ego kills the conscience. As for stubbornness… no one wants to be around a stubborn mule. That mule is unpredictable and is a time bomb in the making which can go off anytime! There can be many casualties when that angry ego explodes.
Our Doubts, Fears and Worries
Our doubts, fears and worries become some of the biggest blocks to our freedom. Fear paralyses the soul and creativity. Doubt destroys relationships. When trust is gone then everything falls apart. And worries have no real value or meaning; worrying accomplishes nothing other than creating more stress and tiredness! I am of the opinion that if you can do something about a situation, then do it, if not, let it run its course. Continue to give all your good wishes but worrying doesn’t help in any way.
We should always aim to improve ourselves. Our biggest obstacles to self-progress are our own shortcomings and weaknesses. Even if no one knows about them, we know. Our own guilty conscience will not allow us to act freely and without the burden of guilt. We will forever be carrying that awkward chip of shame and embarrassment on our shoulders. Therefore, it is important to keep advancing and improving.
I have concluded that the greatest joy we have in life is when we are in control of ourselves, and the greatest loss, defeat or unhappiness, comes when we were not. It is then that we are left with feelings of regret. Hence when we have mastered the vices, then our aim becomes to express love, peace, kindness, benevolence, compassion etc. Where there is virtue in our life, then there is no place for vice. And where the virtues are strong then vice has no might. If I understand the power of love, that love is enough, then there is no need for ego, or attachment, or greed. Because true unconditional love is enough!
Disguises and Masks
Be transparent. Be who you are. When we try to be something or someone else, we have to ‘hold the mask’ on all the time, and that takes away the energy from acting freely and being natural. At some point others will find out what we are really like inside, and if it is not the pretty picture we are painting, then everyone will become disappointed. It really is quite exhausting to maintain a lie. The time and energy that goes into keeping up the fakery simply ruins our life. Not only do we not trust others, they in turn will stop trusting us and we even start to have doubts about our self!
We need to check what thoughts, feelings, images and desires are influencing our mind? These will definitely influence the choices that we make in life. Advertising, marketing, social media, news channels etc. are all influencing, in one way or the other! What are we absorbing and how is it affecting our thinking and feeling?
It is good to be careful about what we put into our mind. Freedom is in our mind. If we think we are free, then we are. And if we feel we are trapped, we become so. It’s time to free the soul from all forms of limitation and to fly free from those negative beliefs.
Take care lest we lose the greatest freedom that we have. Perhaps, the most precious. Not only the freedom to think what we want, but the freedom to have no one policing us inside our head; the freedom to be able to voice our opinion. This is a very basic fundamental right. Because once we lose the right of free speech, then how can we defend ourselves against anything in life which is unjust and unfair? When we lose the freedom to be able to think and speak, then the loss of all freedoms will not be far behind. Once that right is gone, it will absolutely be irredeemable. Beware the slippery slope towards the loss of our freedom. I don’t think that any of us will like that sort of future.
It’s Time… that we start to appreciate some of the very real freedoms that we have in life already.