On Freedom

A recent cartoon of Calvin & Hobbes, in Hindustan Times, goes like this:

Calvin’s Mom shouts at Calvin asking him to clean up his room.

Calvin gets mad and tells Hobbes: I’m going to secede from my parents!!

Hobbes: Secede and go where?

Calvin: Anywhere. Just because I am born to them, they happen to be my parents. They cannot dictate to me like this.

Hobbes: Hmm, it’s a biological conspiracy!

Calvin goes away to the woods along with Hobbes. As night falls, Calvin gets frightened and gets back home.

Interesting. Isn’t it? This cartoon says a lot about our concept of Freedom. We all love Freedom, right? But it’s always freedom from something or the other – from our parents before marriage, from the tyranny of teachers in school, from intimidating bosses at work, from household drudgery, husband from wife and vice-versa, from financial insecurity, from tax authorities – the list is indeed endless. Therefore when a retired person says, ‘Thank God, I’m free from tomorrow’, is he really free? He may be free from office work. But soon he will find himself bonded to something equally trivial and would begin yet another struggle to be free from that activity too. In other words, ‘Freedom from’ is basically a negative kind of freedom since we keep hopping from one bondage to another inadvertently. Then what is positive freedom? Some claim, as the Social theorist and author of the book ‘Fear of freedom’ that ‘freedom to’ is the positive freedom. But is this so? On some analysis it looks to me that as long as we are trying to become something, there is no freedom. The pressure and stress of becoming something is always there since the milestones keep shifting all the time.

Then the question is how do we free ourselves from the pressures of becoming? The great Sufi mystique, Jalaluddin Roomi, comes close to answer this when he says – can you become without becoming?

No, this is also not satisfactory since the pressure of becoming doesn’t completely end. The perfect answer is provided by Vedanta. What is that? Return to your original nature of Being? What is that original nature? It’s Sachitananda or pure bliss, as Vedanta puts it. Confused? Consider the following conversation:

Disciple: Swamiji, why is sleep so pleasant and desirable

Swamiji: Because, you are not there!

Disciple: Does it mean I’m not desirable

Swamiji: That is for you to decide.

During sleep you are ‘sachidananda’ and your miserable wakeful self is absent. Therefore, if one wants to get rid of physical and mental fatigue experienced during the day, one has to get back to one’s True self to get relief. During deep sleep, you are with your true self. But you’re not aware of it to enjoy the bliss. Vedanta teaching helps us to realize our true self in the wakeful state itself. We will then appreciate what Roomi means when he says: “When you have wings, why crawl?


Published in: on September 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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