What is freedom?
If you are an American, you have been told since you were young that you live in the land of the free. Freedom is the watchword for America. But what does freedom mean? For some, perhaps, it means that you are able to do whatever you want to do. Within a society, that could become a problem. Perhaps exercising your “freedom” gets in the way of somebody else exercising theirs. Am I free to take your car? So, it seems we need to journey further to discover what true freedom is. There are certainly limits on what any person is free to do, or we are left with a lawless society where the strongest take what they want.
If you think that your freedom depends on controlling things outside of you – such as other people’s behavior or world events – you will always fail and feel frustrated. You will be unable to control those factors, setting yourself up for misery. There is also the fear, the confused belief that you have to protect your freedom; you have to fight for it. This is the idea that others will try to take your freedom away from you, so freedom comes only at the price of eternal vigilance. Where is the peace in that? What is actually transpiring here is projection. The only one who is coming after your freedom is you. Nobody else is capable of doing that to you. I am going to pick on America a little bit here with its ideology of being the land of the free. Why are children forced to go to school? Does that teach freedom? How many people go to work each day out of freedom? How many of you look at your partner each day and see “the old ball and chain”? Where is the freedom? You are free to choose whatever you want each day, but you choose to wake up next to your jailer. Is this freedom? That’s a rhetorical question. This is living life from fear. This is thinking you have to sacrifice to hold on to the little bit that you have. Of course this is not freedom, and it is not just an issue for Americans.
When you say that you want to have something or to do something, is that actually your true desire? Perhaps in the mass consciousness of your society you have been taught that you should pick a goal and succeed at reaching it. Within the scope of that, the goals you have to choose from may be narrowly defined. Maybe you are told that you should find a job that provides you financial security. Perhaps the teaching includes having a nice home and providing for your retirement. So, based on this you choose your goals, but do you really select them out of free choice? Are you listening to what your deep inner self really wants or to what the mass consciousness tells you that you need to have? The first question to ask yourself when you insist on your freedom of choice is, “Is it really true that this is what I wish to choose?” Is this somebody else’s wish for you? Is it a wish that comes out of fear? Is it a wish that comes out of a desire for approval? If you were to say to a child, “I’ll bet you can’t wait to grow up so that you can get up and go off to work every day!”, you would likely not get a positive response. It is unlikely the child will exclaim, “Oh, I can’t wait to do that!” To the child such an action more likely would feel like a loss of freedom than something they would want to choose. Freedom for children is doing what they want to do each day; it is playing. By the time most children grow up they have been brainwashed into believing that doing what they want is not an option as an adult.
So, there appears to be a great confusion about what freedom is. My guess is that if you have not done a lot of internal inquiry here, then what you think you want is not what your inner child wants at all. You do have the “freedom” to choose as directed by the mass consciousness and to find out that it doesn’t bring you satisfaction. Maybe the mass consciousness belief is that if you have enough money you can choose to do what you want. The conundrum is that no matter how much money is accumulated, it will usually not seem to be enough. When is it safe to stop? Never. Money does not buy freedom. The accumulation of money is based on fear. If the fear is not confronted, no amount of money is enough; the fear persists.
Let’s go in a different direction. Many of you are familiar with the song lyric that says “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” This is sung in a sad, plaintive manner from one who appears to be at the bottom and not so happy about being there. On the other hand, those of you who have hit that bottom may have found a freedom there. As long as there is a desire, a hope, a goal, a relationship, money, the possibility of success or of a better world, or anything else you could have attachment to – and the thought that such achievement is still within reach – you are not free. Without realizing the object of your attachment, you will not be happy; you will not be fulfilled. Nothing left to lose can mean “no attachment”. There is nothing else that can be lost. Is that freedom? If it isn’t, we might be getting warm.
In the awakened state there is no attachment. There are no goals. That doesn’t mean that you live without anything in your life, it simply does not matter what is there. It doesn’t follow that the life is void of meaning or activity. Whatever appears or happens is perfect. We are getting closer to a sense of what freedom is. One cannot be asleep and free. True freedom requires being in the awakened state. If that is true and you wish to be free, then you will choose to wake up. This choosing, however, becomes a goal and so there appears to be a vicious cycle. You cannot wake up without intention, but the very fact of choosing this goal keeps you in attachment and asleep. This is what we call a conundrum. The part of you that is trying to figure out how to wake up is absolutely incapable of succeeding. Only the ego can have goals. Spirit has no goals. The ego can only succeed in self-sabotage.
How can you possibly navigate this duality? One solution is to give your freedom of choice to Spirit. Spirit both has and knows the plan. When we talk about giving it to Spirit, letting Spirit guide you, many have the fearful reaction that surrendering to the voice of Spirit means that you have to give up your own free will. Isn’t that a loss of freedom? You would have to sacrifice your desire for the dictates of Spirit. That’s an interesting point of view. To have freedom, you must give it up. You surrender to Spirit, letting It direct you, trusting that whatever is presented into your life is the perfect thing, and accepting it rather than fighting, resisting, and wanting to change things. This is what will bring you freedom. You give your ego’s free choice to the One who can choose for you. This process will certainly be accompanied by terror. The ego, which has chosen to wake up, doesn’t really want to. It does not want to relinquish the sense of separation, whereas freedom absolutely demands that you do so. Ego will throw tantrums as well as all possible obstacles in your path in an attempt to derail this surrender. The irony of ironies is that if and when you totally surrender your freedom to follow Spirit’s will, you will discover that what Spirit wants you to do is totally aligned with what you want to do. What will have changed is that you will have total joy in the doing and not a thought for the outcome.
Freedom is having zero attachment to results. In the duality you cannot always succeed in reaching a desired outcome, so any attachment you have will bring about a sense of loss, unhappiness, and you will find yourself on a rollercoaster. The outcome is not in the moment, so any focus on results brings you out of the eternal now and into the slumber of the ego. When you are awake nothing matters, with the exception of the moment, and it is joyous. Think of the freedom of a child at play. The joy of the sand castle is in the making. Tomorrow it will likely be gone and the child will be making something else. There is no freedom outside of the eternal now. If your behavior is being controlled by anything from the past, you are not free. If your thoughts are in the future, trying to bring about some particular outcome, you are not free.
Freedom means you are free of responsibility. When you hold the thought that you or others are responsible, you are chained by that thought. What is the truth here? It is absolute insanity to think you are responsible for someone else. How can you determine what they will or will not do? How can you decide what will happen to them? That is all Spirit’s job. It’s none of your business. What an enormous freedom you will feel when you take the step of giving up the thought that you have responsibility for others. Feel that. Now you are responsible only for your business. Is that the truth? Are you truly responsible for all that you do? Probably not since most of your actions are conditioned responses you have not freely chosen. It is your thoughts that matter, not your actions. More importantly, Spirit has a plan for you that is better than any you could ever come up with. What you have been calling responsibility is actually irresponsible. You are trying to take over the work of a master, and failing completely at the task. You don’t need to be responsible and are absolutely incapable of doing the job. Feel the lightness that comes with relinquishing that work.
Wherever you look out on your life and see a place where you don’t feel free, that is where you have chosen to give your power to something outside of you. Freedom happens when you take your power back, bringing it inside and giving it to Spirit. In truth, Spirit already has it. You simply stop working at cross purposes. Most people think of freedom as trying to hold on to something they desire, but it actually is letting it go. If you wish to choose freedom, letting go of all attachments and following Spirit – how do you go about doing that? The first step is having the awareness that if you are feeling distress of any kind, whether it is fear, physical pain, disease, or emotional discomfort; it is a sign that you have given your freedom away. You have an attachment to and have made yourself a prisoner of some belief that is not true. Pay attention and notice what situations are triggering that for you. You have a belief that you need to control something outside yourself to be happy. You have given someone or something power over you. Ask Spirit for support in letting that go. Your behavior won’t likely immediately change, but as you watch yourself taking these self-destructive acts, as you sit there with Spirit and observe the craziness of your patterns, as you remind yourself that you have nothing to gain by them, the activities will naturally begin to lessen.
Whatever you think you need to have in your life situation to make you free leaves you a prisoner. Real freedom comes when you release your attachment to absolutely everything. Am I saying that you should all quit your jobs and leave your spouses so that you can be free? Changing the outside will not give you freedom; it is how you look at it from the inside that sets you free. What would you choose today if you were really free? If you have been acting from fear you probably don’t have the slightest idea what you would choose. It is a gradual process you will go through when you give the wheel back to Spirit. It requires you to investigate each belief that is driving your behavior and look for the untruths. It is in feeling what it is like to no longer be a victim of anything, to no longer need anything or anyone to change. Perhaps in a future “now” you will be guided to make a big jump. This will neither be a jump away nor a jump toward. It will simply be your truth in that moment, your guidance from Spirit. There will be no second guessing. There will be no guilt. You will not be chained to your choice. Each moment will bring another. Each one will be guided. Each will be an exercise in freedom.