To be independent and not controlled by anything or anyone — this is what everyone espouses and hopes for. But, from what is it that I want to be free? Do I want to be free from pain and suffering? Do I want to be free to live a fulfilling life? And ultimately, do I want to be free from ending, do I want to be immortal? The latter questions are extremely private, but most certainly must be resolved as early as possible on one’s path in life.
The first two questions have an interesting pedigree. (1) When I say that I want to be free from pain and suffering, what do I mean? I am an experiential being, of course. I cannot learn without struggles that sear and embed some occurrence into my memory. It is only in this way that I can truly grow — both emotionally and spiritually. This is, ultimately, where wisdom lies.
When I say I want to be liberated from these emotions, what I am truly saying is that I want to learn how to alleviate the suffering that we all encounter as living and intentional entities — and deepen my understanding of life. We are, arguably, subject to the choices that we make because of our free will. If we undergo no loss during our lifetime, what is the purpose of consciousness? Is not my existence, ideally, supposed to be a great adventure — an epic struggle to overcome my vices and fears only to arrive at the proverbial promised land? (2) All this while I am still alive.
An increasing amount of thoughtful people realize that the exterior fight to acquire money, fame, and personal power, though important, pales in comparison to the great journey found within. We want to live fulfilling lives on our own terms. It is only the apprehension of beginning that thwarts our odyssey. (3)
We are thus faced with a great challenge. We need to control our emotions so that they contribute to a meaningful life. Most of us have some form of understanding at 20 or so that we are a collection of passions and frustrations. But, we also acknowledge that we are free to develop in the direction we so desire. This truth is shrouded, by our actions, unfortunately. We are quickly pulled into school, a job, and then some form of relationship. The net result is that when we fully open our eyes at 30, we are enslaved by the decisions we have made. Schopenhauer, (4) for one tells us that, “Romantic love is a biological trick that pushes us toward certain people … creating further instantiations of the will-to-life in new beings.” (5) This is a little too pessimistic for me.
That being said, it is at this point in my life that I can fully realize, given all my previous decisions, that I am free to develop in the direction I want. Many of us choose not to decide and go on to live determined and unfulfilled lives. This does not have to be the case. My liberty and my freedom are controlled by me.
There are of, course, consequences to what I decide in my life. I must simply understand that the goals I set are achievable — certainly on the spiritual and metaphysical side. The great philosopher and mystic, Soren Kierkegaard (6) leave us with a thought: People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.
A closing thought: At some point in life, it is necessary to stand back and take some time to fully reflect on where I am and where I am going. Modern life is mostly a swirl of noise. I need to find the quiet that assists in my introspection and in my planning. This gives me an appreciation of today — a thankfulness at being alive — and the strength to go on and complete my mission.
To sum up: This week, we spoke about finding personal liberty and freedom.
To be noted: From Joshua Slocum (7) — I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else.
Just for fun:
This week, on your liberating walk, please reflect on what freedom means to you.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great!
Quote: Liberty is within all of us