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Question: Sir, what is freedom of a person?
Speaker: I do not know whether to laugh or lament.
The sun is asking- “What is brightness?” The flower is asking- “What is odor, what is fragrance?” A free being is asking- “What is freedom?” Flying birds are asking- “What is flight?” Ice is asking- “What is coldness?”
You are that, you are free. What do you mean by, “What is freedom?” You are freedom.
But then again, I understand the question. You are freedom, but you do not know that. So, it’s a very strange situation.
I am beautiful, I am wonderful, I have everything but without knowing.
It’s like me asking you where is the mic? And I keep asking you and looking at you and I may as well ask everybody outside this room and I may shout out from the window asking everybody, ‘where is the mic?’. Till the time, I keep asking others and keep looking at others to look for the mic, I will never find out that the mic is here.
(Points with his hand to the mic) Where is the mic? Where is the mic? Of course, you can’t tell me. When you don’t know who you are, how can you tell me where my mic is? So, its futile to ask you but I must be wise enough to not to ask you. I must look inwards, it’s here, right here. Till the time, I keep looking anywhere else, how will I find out?
What is freedom? You are free.
And if you want proof, go back and look at the photographs of your childhood, when you were two months old, six months old, see how free you were, how freely you were crying, how freely you are spoiling over all the places, how freely you were decorating all the walls with your masterpieces, how freely you were splattering all the mud around and forgetting what is mud and what is food and mud is to be eaten and food is to be thrown away and forgetting who is papa and who is uncle but that mamma would get really angry. Why do you keep calling everyone papa? Most kids do that.
Free, absolutely free, free to be ridiculous, free to be foolish, free to be funny, free to be joyful, you are free, you are always free, but you have taken up bondage upon yourself.
Today, of course, you do not appear free. Anybody who looks at your faces can tell that no, these guys are not free. Today you are not free because you have imposed conditions upon your freedom. You know what you say, you say, ‘I will be free when something happens. I will be free when I am a big man, a rich man, a respectable man. I will be free when I will move out of my house. I will be free when I am earning so much.’ You have imposed the condition upon freedom. You have told yourself that right now I am not free and something must happen in the future to set me free.
Your slavery is not real. Your slavery is just that thought that you are bonded.
And even this thought, that you are bonded is not your own thought. This has been planted in your mind. You are not free, do what we say. You remember all those instances, ‘you will do what we will tell you to do. We are elders, we are teachers, we are the wise ones, we know how life must be lived, listen to us. Of course you don’t deserve freedom. You are such an idiot, listen to us.’ And you are small and dependent, what could you do? You listened, you obeyed, you followed and freedom was gone. Not really gone, but buried under the assumption that you are not fit to be free.
You are not only free, you are unconditionally free.
You may be the biggest idiot, you may be making the grossest mistake, you are still free, unconditionally free. It’s your own mind and the notions inside it that are making you think that, you are not free. Do you understand what is meant to be free? Being free is not doing as you please.
Freedom is understanding, when you understand, you are free.
Bondage is the absence of understanding, the absence of knowing, just the thought. When you understand the thought, its origin, its process, you find that, ‘there is nothing to chain me, I am already free. We feel trapped. You know’; we say, ‘I want to do that, nobody allows me to do that, so I am not free,’ that’s our logic. ‘I want to roam around, but the parents don’ t allow me, so I am not free. I want to do this and that but nobody allows me so I am not free.’ Whenever you say that nobody allows me, you have made freedom dependent upon somebody. Whenever you say that I am free to do something, you have made freedom dependent on doing something, on something external.
Freedom is not about doing something. Freedom is not about not doing something. Freedom is not about getting something. Freedom is your internal climate, where nobody is your master. Freedom is your own climate where you live by your own understanding.
If you search for the freedom on the outside, from the others, then rest assured, never in life, you will be free. Because till the time there is body, how can there be freedom? When there is body, there is death, how can there be freedom? Where there is body, you will compulsorily have to breathe, how can there be freedom? Can there be freedom from breathing? Till the time there is body, there is hunger. Till the time there is body, there is limitation of the body. There will be the gravitational pull upon the body. There is no question and you cannot manage everything on the outside. Somebody can come and arrest you, arrest the body that is. The body can be handcuffed; the body can be put in chains.
If you are looking for freedom on the outside, there can be no freedom. If you say that I will be free if I obtain all the riches, only when I obtain this and that, obviously there can be no freedom because there is no guarantee that you will ever obtain all that you are dreaming of.
Freedom is not an attainment. Freedom is not an external situation. Freedom is, as we said, the climate over here (points to the head) in which you say that ‘I may be bonded outside but here I realize everything, I am free. Nobody can take this realization away from me. Nobody can take this essential core away from me.’
That is freedom, the awakening of the core.
You may put my body in chains, you may arrest me and put me in jail but yet you cannot take away my ability to understand. I am still free. You can take away all that came from outside. You can take away my money. You can take away my respectability, still I am free, because you may dominate me on the outside, you will never be able to dominate here (points at the head). This is mine, this is the real me, this is freedom.
Do not search for freedom. You already have it, just come close to it. Those who hunt for freedom on the outside are condemned to remain unfree always. And those who simply discover the freedom here (pointing at the head),they are the ones who are really free and their life is a festival, a celebration of freedom.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Freedom is your clear inner sky || Acharya Prashant (2013)
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