What is Freedom?
by Advaita Mihai Stoian
“Know the truth and the truth will set you free!”
Freedom, a paradox of our world
One of the keywords of our world today is freedom. Many of the themes of discussion about our life systems are spinning around the concept of freedom. Freedom became nowadays even a trading value, reorganized comparing with the old era of slavery. But freedom is deeply related with other notions like responsibility, knowledge, compassion, sacrifice, and love. Some spiritual traditions are saying that freedom is a golden chain. Even if it sounds paradoxical this statement (the association between freedom and a chain – even made of gold – might sound like a paradox), just looking around us will give an unmistakable confirmation for it. In our world today, we are facing sometimes-paradoxical situations even greater than the golden chain of freedom. Today we are talking about notions like “fight for peace” or “war on terror” as part of our daily life concepts. If nowadays peace is obtained with fight and terror is cured with war than we should not be amazed that freedom is just another chain made of gold.
Let us take as an example how the idea of freedom develops for an individual. A newborn child is so charming because his spontaneity is coming from a freedom that is unspoiled by any personality yet. The amazed eyes of a little child express the best this state of inner freedom to abandon in the protective hands of life.When the child grows into a teenager the first notions about individuality, pleasure and ego comes into the attention. The first reaction is to “liberate” from the “tyranny” of the parents, the “protective hands”. The teenager has a strong impression that he needs to be free and this becomes his principle of living thus his first chain.In the name of this freedom he becomes anarchic. The way he walks, talks and dresses, expresses almost all 0f the time the tendency to contradict what he has learnt until then. In the case of the newborn child freedom was associated with total surrender, thus the child has this capacity to take everything as it is, being in the state of natural freedom.
The moment he grows up and become more aware about himself, he begins to be enslaved by the tendency to interfere and to impose his newly awakened will thus becoming an anarchist. He breaks the rules but he is not aware about the consequences of his acts or why those rules were in place. He exists at this level only to break the rules and freedom is often measured by the rules he have broken.Out of this attitude the teenager is making mistakes that hurt him and the people around. Due to this fact while reaching adulthood he is already wrapped into new sets of rules that are the results of the traumatic experiences from puberty. Gradually the anarchic freedom is replaced by the idea of responsibility. Trading freedom for responsibility leads the teenager to adulthood through a continuously growing labyrinth of rules and conventions. In this way, the so-called adulthood is just a set of predefined rules among which freedom is just one of them. Freedom becomes just a dry concept used to cover most of the time the fears we have in front of any form of superior authority. The responsible adults gradually lose their appetite for life because life is deeply related to freedom. Solving this apparently conflicting situation will become the reason for searching the truth. Nevertheless, while struggling with the self-imposed rules the adult begins to understand life and the more he understands it the more he values the power of the truth that brings back the ineffable feeling of freedom without killing the responsibility.First, the adult is “squeezed” from all the directions by the rules he assumed before, in the early years of his life. Trying to survive the routine of an responsible existence buried in rigid rules and conventions, the adult is forced to realize the limitations that are imposed by these rules and the freedom given by the truth in the shape of the right knowledge. Here begins the spiritual transformation.
Freedom and searching for the truth
From this moment on the individual is searching for the truth as a solution to solve the conflict between responsibility in life and freedom. Nevertheless, freedom has more to reveal. The first attempt will be to become an egoistic seeker for the truth, caring only about himself. When this attempts to find the truth will become a very rigid and sometimes painful practice of a doctrine, than in the soul of the aspirant – and out of this spiritual suffering – starts to grow love and compassion for all the beings around. Thus, the individual enters the Christic “legacy” of those that are free to love and to sacrifice for the good and happiness of their beloved ones.As we can see, freedom is an idea that constantly pushes us further in our evolution. We can say from this perspective that the only moments when we experience freedom is when we are on the path of transformation. Unfortunately these days we can see freedom associated with ignorance and thus turning into the strangest paradox.
This is the level that our civilization is at today. We can see clearlly this in the case of the concept in fashion “preventive strikes”! To see the whole absurdity let’s complete the picture: after 2000 years of Christianity – a doctrine based on the idea “turn the other cheek……” – we, the Christians, synthesized our “experience” in the idea “better to strike first”!!! Until now the church was imposing very strict ways to look upon different matters of life and the conflict situations where among them. It was the era of childhood. But nowadays we feel freer from the church doctrine (which failed to adapt to the rapid transformations in the world) and out of this freedom we created such an anarchic paradox! Moreover, we did that because we dropped the rules without replacing them with the proper knowledge. We are not ready to be free! In this way we proved to be in the puberty with our civilization, experiencing the difficult times of this period. If we look carefully, we can even see the teenager’s “pimples” on George Bush’s brain and heart expressing a reality for the most majority. Let us hope together that our humanity will get out of this puberty without hideous scars as a mark of our “classes” on freedom. Tantra – the consciously assumed freedom – solution to the modern freedom Today, freedom is reflected differently by the two fundamental currents: science and religion. If religion is asking us to believe without questioning its sets of values proposed, science is questioning everything thus ending up with a relative conclusion on anything. Caught in this dilemma the modern society is struggling between blindly assumed moral rules – leading to rigidity and intolerance – and complete denial of any need for moral rules – making us lose the fundamental purpose of our life. Apparently, these two extremes cannot be conciliated.On one hand, religion is giving us a higher purpose in life and a certain direction but make this without any explanation by imposing rules that often cannot be understood. On the other hand, modern science is teaching us to dare to question anything but fails in finding a higher purpose for our life.Speaking from the point of view of freedom in the first case we are told what to do with our freedom but without being told how to get there and in the second case we are pushed to have the freedom which does not have a meaning. The ancient concept of tantra is giving here the genius solution. Tantra means “network” so the tantric system is the system that find the links and the correlations that exist between everything.The Tantric system brings the scientific method into the spiritual life creating in this way a form of spiritual science, which represents the synthesis between religion, and science. We can say from this perspective that tantra provides a staircase from slavery to freedom.The method used in tantra is the conscious approach on every experience of life. Experiencing life in full awareness will allow us to receive a very efficient feedback, to learn fast about the consequences of our actions and becoming in this way free of any fantasies, daydreams or illusions.As we previously saw, we lose our freedom when we blindly assume certain rules or when we blindly deny any rules. However, tantra is not saying “don’t eat that” or “eat only this” but is saying, “be aware that if you eat that you will have these consequences and if you eat this you’ll have these consequences”. For this reason, tantra was often considered to be the science of life, linking in a harmonious whole – net – all the genuine science and all the genuine religious systems.Freedom in this way becomes a measure for our awareness, a result of knowing the truth, truth that is revealed by life itself once we “wake up” from the “dream” of our daily life.The tantric is not questioning everything but is experiencing everything in full awareness. The tantric is not taking anything for granted but is open to experience. In this way, tantra is replacing the dogma with life experience and dry theories with direct understanding. There is no more need for building a fence of taboos around something that is not good or is dangerous because with this new attitude we will know precisely what is not good or what is dangerous, what is harmonious or what is good. Life becomes a chain of spiritual lessons through which we get to know the Truth which will set us free.
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