There are many dimensions to freedom. There is the freedom to be as one is, to be different without being persecuted, excommunicated, and ostracized. There is the psychological freedom as Immanuel Kant has put it which is the deliverance from the self-imposed nonage. There is the financial freedom, and the freedom of time to do what one wishes at every given moment of one’s life. There is also the freedom from addictions which can range anywhere from chocolates and food, our work, smart-phones and videogames, the accumulation of wealth, power, and status; the daily frustrations and self-limiting thoughts and behaviors, to relationships and drugs and alcohol. Slavery it seems comes in many different shapes, colors, and flavors.
The word ‘freedom’ means to not be a slave to anything, and to be a slave means to submit to any dominating influence. These influences can come both from the inside as well as the outside; the external which is the reflection in the mirror of the internal and vice versa. A good example is the fear that a child may have about a monster beneath her bed. Until the child understands her fear then the fear will manifest outwardly either in the form of sounds, creaks, and shadowy figures and when such events occur, the paralysis takes over as she submits to the dominating force and so the child becomes a slave to her fears. Other examples of this is the fear of heights, the fear of talking on the stage and so on where one tunes in on the people laughing, or making fun thus giving energy and solidifying the horrible experience played out in one’s mind. Fear is such a great dominating force isn’t it? The fear of dying.
As modern people we focus so much on our bodies that the state and health of our minds is secondary. We are obsessed with diets, wrinkle creams, organic foods, and the deteriorating state of our health. Health is important but why do we merely focus on our bodies and forget about our psychological, mental, and emotional health? I have a memory from childhood where a scrawny old farmer arm wrestled this gigantic body builder and won. From this experience I’ve learned that the mind can overcome the limits of the body. And if we dig even deeper we might come to realize the power that’s not only in the mind but that’s also beyond the mind. This is where identity, the self, the ego is the last limitation. Because let’s say that I have a mind that is free of all forms of fear, but if I have an identity, the ego is like a heavy boulder that one carries while having wings to fly.
Within the mind are the images, the memories, the experiences, and within the context of slavery one may seriously ask can freedom exist when these things are there? One is hungry and one may venture to say perhaps I’ll cook a delicious meal and then the mind comes back and says “No, but I’m not a cook.” The mind creates walls around an identity that wants to escape and the identity is held captive, is enslaved and kept alive as longs as it serves the needs of the ego, the self, and until the self is destroyed, dissolved, eradicated then the identity will always be.
So, why have we kept our identities trapped in cages for so long? And when do you suppose would be a good time to set it free? Because if it’s true that the very things that we attempt to control end up controlling us, then perhaps on the other side of control lies freedom.