When we talk of freedom what exactly are we referring to?
Is it freedom from oppression, dictatorship, or ignorance that we seek? Bringing it down to a personal level, perhaps all you currently seek, is freedom from a self-destructive habit. You might feel that achieving this one small thing, is all that’s needed, to award you the power to move forward in your life. It’s all relative. Every individual, within whole societies, seeks freedom. How they view that freedom does depend on several factors.
At the extreme there are those who believe death is the ultimate freedom. From Buddhism to suicide cults religion has a hand in propagating this limiting viewpoint. After all, when we take the time to listen to the quiet voice of reason – deep within us all – that voice tells us, how nonsensical and limiting it is to believe, that non-existence, has anything, to do with freedom. It is only once we exists do we actually seek freedom in the first place. Without existence there is nothing.
It’s only during our time of existence do we seek to improve the level of our autonomy, and the expansion, of our free will. We expect the freedom to have what we want, where and when, we want it. We believe we ought to be able to decide the kind of life we live. In respect of living where we want there are of course certain restriction on this. Not to mention the barriers of culture and language, free movement of huge numbers of people, does create problems when infrastructure is overstressed. There will always be practical implications. Even so, most difficulties are easily overcome, when love is involved, and there is a will to change and adapt.
The metaphysical level is where true freedom is found
It’s how we think that determines the level of our autonomy. It is the restrictions we place on our own thinking that enslaves us. For example, as long as we continue to wrestle with truth, we will never be free. We might say that truth is a relative and personal thing. Whatever a person believes, no matter how nonsensical, it is their truth. So in this respect, it’s not for me, or anyone else for that matter, to question another person’s dearly held, personal, beliefs. Indeed, at this level, we really are delving into the realms of personal freedom. Aren’t we all free to believe whatever the hell we choose? Are we?
Well, here’s the thing, the beliefs we hold – restrictive or enabling – were not ours to begin with
This is something we all, very easily and conveniently, forget. A newborn child has no beliefs. From birth to death our belief systems form, change and die. Modern understandings can help us to influence this process, for it is what we believe, that ultimately, becomes our reality; imagined or real.
One big human limitation comes in the form of our assumptions. We assume to be conscious. The reality is we are barely. The degree of our consciousness, the standards of our choices and decisions, are constantly filtered through our beliefs. The reality we experience is determined through what we believe. How we interpret everything is determined through our beliefs. Unless we’re very adept at sidestepping the bias, our beliefs place on everything we think and feel, they will always influence us.
Studies and experiments carried out by those with expectations, determined by their beliefs, will always influence the result
This goes some way to explaining the horrendous levels of conflict, confusion and contradiction, we’re all currently experiencing. What about our seeming obsession with studies? Universities and colleges, all jostling for recognition and merit, the culprits. Outcomes will always be influenced by beliefs. What else do we have to read the results? It’s what we believe that enables us to carry out the experiments and then read the results. No matter how blind or unbiased we try to make them, studies will always be influence, by belief. This happens at the subatomic level. The reality we believe is the one we experience.
Do we really need studies to tell us that an excess of one particular thing will kill us?
What if we hold a belief system built on lies and deceit, how would this influence us? Would we live a life of freedom and self-expression? There are currently billions of people living out their lives through such belief systems. Parents deceive and lie to their children on a daily basis. What is perhaps not realised, is the extent to which these lies, become the reality children grow up to experience. Take for example the mother who only ever feels powerful when criticising her children. Those children grow to form the belief that criticism of others is a form of self-empowerment. In the same vein, those same children will potentially feel disempowered, when criticised by others. No doubt a horrible to and fro to be stuck within.
What about the individual brought up on praise and positive reinforcement, are they free?
One very useful thing to consider with beliefs is context. We must put things into context. In other words, the mentality of individuals, is very much a determining factor. This is certainly the case when it comes to freedom. Let’s take the manager, working within the low paid service sector, who manages through criticism alone. Perhaps the mentality of this person is decided by self-centeredness. In other words, they may have no concern for anyone else, and certainly none for the greater good of the company.
The manager is only concerned with keeping their direct manager happy (with as little work as they can get away with) and off their back. So long as they keep quiet, and do what’s expected of them, the team directly under his or her authority, are also of little concern. When this mentality is going to plan the manager in question feels free. Can you see the flaw in this though? The managers sense of freedom is at the cost and detriment of everyone else. A mentality decided by fear and self-centeredness enslaves us all.
In summing up, it is possible to see that freedom really does begin, at the metaphysical level. Your mind determines this. Your beliefs decide how free you feel. Restrictive and limiting beliefs are those built on confusion, deceit, and lies.
We humans are fairly obsessed with power, yet as long as we fail to question the usefulness of anything, we remain enslaved. Going back to my earlier example, if the manager in question understood the illusory nature of their feelings of power – through criticising others – he or she would potentially become free of the constant damage self-criticism must be causing. For that is all criticism is: Self-criticism.
To finish, and as a result of digesting my own words, we must begin to recognise the process of development we’re all currently involved in. We are all ‘a work in progress’ learning through trial and error. If we’re to improve at an acceptable pace the ground rules must be built on positive reinforcement and love. When we cut through the chaff – of deceit and lies based on the craving for power over others – we find something beautiful: Our true selves. Once we have power over that, everything else, falls into place.