Unbearable Freedom

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Freedom is simply lack of constraint. If we had no constraints placed upon us, either physical or psychological, then most of us would consider ourselves to be largely free. In reality we do have physical constraints. We cannot fly unaided, we cannot move from any A to B in an instant – and so on. But these things are minor compared with psychological freedom. Most of us are burdened with “should, could, would, must” and other feelings of obligation. We also load ourselves up with theories on just about everything – from how we should eat our food (32 chews) to why we should be “mindful”. It’s all such a burden – but we like it.

We like surrounding ourselves with obligations, theories, beliefs and the like, because then we don’t have to bear the unbearable – freedom. While most people say they want to be free, their behavior would imply the exact opposite. They want to be swaddled in their favorite belief system, ideas about the things they should do and the things they shouldn’t do, notions of what is right and wrong, what is desirable and what is undesirable – and on and on. To drop all of these things takes great courage. Simply living moment to moment without a ton of baggage being dragged along is a very rare thing, and for most of us completely unbearable.

It could be implied that freedom is a recipe for a chaotic life. We think this because of the false belief that our baggage gives life structure. We already know what to do – we eat, shit, sleep, drink, have sex, earn money, seek shelter, establish social content. Belief systems and other baggage are not needed to do these things, they are natural activities we indulge in because of what we are – no theories or belief systems needed.

The other implication that some will be quick to grab hold of, is that freedom implies primitiveness. No so. Our minds like playing with ideas – mathematics, science, philosophy and the rest. We also indulge in aesthetic pleasures – music, art, literature. We can do all these things as long as we understand one thing – they are play. When asked what motivated him to write his divine music J.S. Bach answered that he did it to the Glory of God and for recreation. Forget about the “God” bit, but that he composed the most sublime music for recreation tells you one thing – he enjoyed it. We can enjoy things without them becoming a burden.

It is a signature of our age that people are less able to bear freedom. They need health gurus, spiritual gurus, lifestyle gurus. Society is also increasingly keen to impose its rules of behavior – political correctness, politeness, work ethic.

It is somewhat ironical that most people on a “search” will gravitate toward a system of thought that destroys freedom. In fact, many people want a guru because they cannot bear freedom and want to be told what to do.

As always with things of this nature, there is a trap. To start thinking that we should be free is just another burden. There is nothing we need to do we are already free – if we can bear it.

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By MB

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