“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” — Voltaire
It has been many years since the planet has gone through as turbulent and challenging time as we are experiencing today. While it might have started with the pandemic, it is now manifesting in global unrest for the unending inequality present in so many people’s lives — prejudice, discrimination, and cruel judgment. The planet is being shaken and stirred. Of course, this is rightfully unsettling and painful. But, if you listen to that longing in your heart, it is also uplifting and hopeful. It means humanity is being awakened, becoming conscious.
The world is crying out for freedom. And I say about time!
Of course, freedom can mean many things to many people. By definition, freedom is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” This means freedom of speech, expression, or to worship as we see fit. More than that, it means freedom to be who we are, live as we want to live, believe as we choose to believe, regardless of color, race, sex, or political or socio ideology.
But, if you read the last word in that definition, it also says we have the “freedom to think.” And if you combine that definition with the dictionary’s second meaning of freedom: “a state of not being imprisoned or enslaved,” we begin to see that real freedom is in our own hands. Being in prison and enslaved isn’t always about four walls and metal bars. We can be imprisoned with our thinking and self-limiting beliefs.
Like so many others in the world today, I am all for doing everything we can to change the world so that we can all enjoy the rightful freedoms we deserve. We must examine and break free of the conditioned belief systems and prejudices that limit our capacity to enjoy life in all its richness. But I also believe that true freedom must start from within.
If you want to know how to get started, go ahead and watch a child play in the yard, or better yet, follow a child around for a few hours. You will quickly see what it means to be free. Children start out early seeking freedom. They seek out freedom in their play, in their curiosity, how they talk to themselves and the world around them. They color outside the lines and believe that anything is possible. They are not restricted by thought. They have no limitations. They simply imagine the world as they want it to be.
Even as children become adolescents, they continue to seek freedom. Of course, many might call it rebelling. But it’s more. They are breaking out of what Osho, the famous mystic, called the “psychological slavery” imposed by outside forces such as parents, society, or religion. They question and seek out answers so they can own the truth. They want to be free.
As we get older and become bogged down with more responsibility, we may feel like we’ve lost freedom, but make no mistake, we are still searching. If we are fortunate, we seek freedom by embracing and creating something deeper, often tied to our purpose here on earth — a fulfilling relationship, a meaningful business, or an artistic or humanitarian vision.
While this is a good step and might give us a healthy taste for freedom, there is a higher and more profound freedom that awaits us all. You can call this the ultimate freedom. This freedom is not limited by the events in our lives, both circumstantial and self-imposed. It is a freedom that comes when we finally have control over our thinking and mind (our ego). It is a freedom that comes when we stop listening to the limitations we used to believe — the endless chatter of untruths that we have made real with our thinking.
It is a freedom that comes when we have the stillness of presence to be ourselves, at the moment, neither for nor against anything. It is at this moment where we once again become connected to the Divine. We just are.
These are fundamental rights gifted to us upon birth by the Divine, and no government or law should stand in their way. They are ours. Fortunately, we are now standing up in masses and demanding the freedoms that belong to us.
I am hopeful for our planet.