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What is freedom? What does it mean to be truly free?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

It is a natural tendency of every human being to want to be free. Freedom is not luxury, it is a necessity. Not just human beings, but even animals want freedom. Babies want freedom. If you tie a scarf on the neck of a baby, it just wants to remove it. You put a chain on a baby’s neck and the baby will want to pull it out. It is the adults who put jewelry around their neck, but children want freedom, they don’t want any restriction. That is why they throw their hands up and down… free! Wanting freedom is innate to human beings as well as animals. Every living being wants freedom, and liberation or moksha is nothing but freedom. Freedom is a natural desire in every human being but when the mind gets so muddled up in unnecessary day to day things, it forgets that it wants freedom. It is as good as someone who wants to sleep but has forgotten how to sleep.

Freedom is not running away from situations and circumstance. Sometimes a situation is stifling or unpleasant, and we run away from it and think this is what freedom is, but that is not so. Freedom means:

Being unfazed by circumstances, situations and the people around you; Being free from your own emotional garbage; Being free from the jungle of your thoughts that bother you; Being free from all the entanglement that you harbor in your head; Being free from fear and anxiety

Anything that stifles you and makes you feel small, being free from that, is what freedom is.

How does one move towards freedom?

Let go of cravings and aversions
Whether you accept it or not, watch it or not, life is an act of letting go. It started the moment you were born. You let go of the womb and came into this world. As soon as you came here, you started breathing in and breathing out and you are taking food in and letting it out. It is a constant exchange. You cannot hold on to anything here.

As a child you were holding onto many toys, and as you grew up, you let go of all those toys. Are you still holding on to your little toys and bells? No! As you grow older, you obviously let go of many things. Similarly, let go of cravings and aversion. When you feel free from all the cravings and aversions, that is freedom.

Meditate: Meditation is food for the soul, it nurtures the core of your existence. It keeps you physically fit, healthy and mentally focused. Intellectually, it brings you sharpness, keenness of attention, awareness and observation. Emotionally, you feel lighter, softer and purer and you feel able to let go of the past garbage. It creates positive vibrations around you, influencing your behaviour with others, and others behaviour towards you. There is nothing better than meditation to bring calmness to the mind!

Reduce your wants: If you want freedom, your wants should be minimum. Minimum wants will give you more freedom. If the wants are too many, they go on and on and on.

Now, when the wants arise in you, what do you do? You can't keep on wanting things. This is where wisdom comes to help. See life with a bigger context.

Develop a sense of contentment: When the mind is not stuck in desires of either respect, money, position, and the mind goes beyond these things, then you can say you are free.

Before you let go of the body, if a point comes when you are so fulfilled, and you are ready to let go of everything – that is the infinite freedom that you experience.

You need not even physically let go of things. It may not be possible practically to let go of everything but at least in the mind if you let go of everything, you will find there is enormous freedom, and lots of happiness and connectivity towards everything will come.

Have Faith: One very important thing we need is the faith that only the right thing will happen! There is a great power in the universe that has maintained this universe from billions of years. Have faith in that power. It will take care.     

— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

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