What is freedom?

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I wrote this in 2011 and published it on March 3 of that year. “Freedom” is still a subject that comes up for me – especially when I am going through a period of feeling trapped. When I re-read this article, I had to laugh, when I realized that in 2011, I clearly thought I had got this completely figured out for good. Yet, here I am revisiting it again.

 

 


What does “Freedom” really mean?

“To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one’s freedom.”  Andre Gide


Freedom has meant something to me as far back as I can recall.  I remember planning to run away, at the age of 7, with a 12-year-old kid on our block. I even had a handkerchief full of food tied to the end of a long stick.  In my mind I was ready to go, until I started to wonder what I’d eat after the food ran out. The 12-year-old kid said, “Berries.” The berries were growing on a bush that was on the next street; I knew they were poisonous. So that ended a 7-year-old’s dreams of freedom.

Financial Freedom?

Today, there are a lot of people seeking “freedom”. In our culture, this usually means “financial freedom”, which is a concept that sure gets a lot of exposure. So much exposure, in fact, that people can be forgiven for thinking that this is the only possible way they’re ever going to feel free. It’s often why people start their own businesses or go into network marketing. It’s the ultimate goal of most investors and it’s what people plan for so they can finally retire.

A few years of chasing after money, myself, led me to question the notion that freedom was synonymous with wealth. First, if this were true, it would rule out the chance of freedom for the bulk of the population. That didn’t make sense. There had to be more to freedom than just having money. Besides, during my years pursuing financial freedom, I had met enough people who had “made it” financially, but who didn’t seem any “freer” than I was. Having all that money came with the need to protect it from loss. So what was this “freedom” we were all seeking?

Perhaps you, too, have asked this question: How can you be “free” when your freedom is based on something you could lose at the drop of a hat? Does it make any sense to attach your dreams to a raft that could float away at any time.

Nature abhors a vaccuum

It’s said that “Nature abhors a vacuum”. For instance, if you want to find the means to get new clothes, empty out your closet of everything you don’t wear. Nature will quickly step in and fill the vacuum – with something better.

In letting go of the insistence that one has to be financially free in order to be really free, you will likely open a space for a deeper understanding to present itself. This is what happened to me. I discovered thatfreedom does not come to us from what is “out there” in our lives. Freedom is an internal matter: it comes from within. Freedom is a state of Being. Certainly, one can never be truly free on the physical plane unless one experiences freedom within first.

I lived with this realization for a while, not knowing what to make of it. I knew that depending on money to be free was a risky and nonsensical idea. But getting to the point of  knowing with absolute certainty that freedom is an internal matter took a little more time.

“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Filling the vacuum

If you haven’t already read Busting Loose from the Money Game by Robert Scheinfeld, I would highly recommend it! That was one of the first things that stepped in to fill the vacuum left from letting go of the chase after financial freedom. Through this book, I was reminded of my power as a Creator.

My concurrent meditation program led me to insights, such as, “Am I perhaps already free?” And to wonder “If so, in what ways am I already free?” I also became aware of emotional energy blocks in my mind and body that were standing in the way of my experiencing my own inner freedom.

Freed of these energy blocks, I have been able to experience more moments of inner peace, the silent centre, the unchanging aspect of the Self, which is revealed when one turns inward. I have come to learn that, in this more subtle state, thoughts naturally become fulfilled with far less effort. What more could we ask for than this form of freedom where our inner creative silence is brought into harmony with the outer activity of our lives, allowing our deepest desires to become manifested?

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” Lao Tzu


A major block to freedom

One of the major blocks to realizing one’s own already existing state of freedom is fear. One of my clients had been haunted by a feeling of fear her entire life. It wasn’t until she released the emotional energy that had been lodged in her body that she was able to have some inner peace and begin to experience freedom. In her case, the search for freedom began as a search for freedom from her fears. It ended with her finding a much deeper and richer sense of freedom than she had ever dreamed existed.

So what is freedom? Is freedom the ability to do what we want when we want, as so many people define it? Or is freedom a state of being that comes from inner peace and knowing who we really are? Is it found by running out in the world and chasing after what we think will bring us happiness? Or is it created by peeling away all the layers of false notions we have been filled with, finally to discover that the freedom we seek is already within us?

“He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.”
Lao Tzu

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