If you say, ‘I am free’, then you are not free.
None of the agonies of suppression, nor the brutal discipline of conforming to a pattern, has led to truth. To come upon truth, the mind must be completely free, without a spot of distortion.
But first, let us ask ourselves if we really want to be free? When we talk of freedom are we talking about complete freedom or about freedom from some inconvenient or unpleasant or some undesirable thing? We would like to be free from painful and ugly memories and unhappy experiences but keep our pleasurable, satisfying ideologies, formulas and relationships. But to keep one without the other is impossible, for, as we have seen, pleasure is inseparable from pain.
So it is for each one of us to decide whether or not we want to be completely free. If we say we do, then we must understand the nature and structure of freedom.
Is it freedom when you are free from something – free from pain, free from some kind of anxiety? Or is freedom itself something entirely different?
Are You Really Free?
You can be free from jealousy, say, but isn’t that freedom a reaction and therefore not freedom at all? You can be free from dogma very easily, by analysing it, by kicking it out, but the motive for that freedom from dogma has its own reaction, because the desire to be free from a dogma may be that it is no longer fashionable or convenient. Or you can be free from nationalism because you believe in internationalism, or because you feel it is no longer economically necessary to cling to this silly nationalistic dogma, with its flag and all that rubbish. You can easily put that away. Or you may react against some spiritual or political leader who has promised you freedom as a result of discipline or revolt. But has such rationalism, such logical conclusion, anything to do with freedom?
If you say you are free from something, it is a reaction which will then become another reaction, which will bring about another conformity, another form of domination. In this way, you can have a chain of reactions and accept each reaction as freedom. But it is not freedom; it is merely a continuity of a modified past which the mind clings to.
The youth of today, like all youth, are in revolt against society and that is a good thing in itself, but revolt is not freedom because when you revolt, it is a reaction and that reaction sets up its own pattern. And you get caught in that pattern. You think it is something new, it is not; it is the old in a different mould. Any social or political revolt will inevitably revert to the good old bourgeois mentality.
Freedom is a State of Mind
Freedom comes only when you see and act, never through revolt. The seeing is the acting and such action is as instantaneous as when you see danger. Then there is no cerebration, no discussion or hesitation; the danger itself compels the act, and therefore, to see is to act and to be free.
Freedom is a state of mind – not freedom from something but a sense of freedom, a freedom to doubt and question everything and therefore so intense, active and vigorous that it throws away every form of dependence, slavery, conformity and acceptance. Such freedom implies being completely alone. But can the mind brought up in a culture so dependent on environment and its own tendencies ever find that freedom which is complete solitude, and in which there is no leadership, no tradition and no authority?
This solitude is an inward state of mind which is not dependent on any stimulus or any knowledge and is not the result of any experience or conclusion. Most of us, inwardly, are never alone. There is a difference between isolation; cutting oneself off, and aloneness, solitude. We all know what it is to be isolated – building a wall around oneself in order never to be hurt, never to be vulnerable, or cultivating detachment which is another form of agony, or living in some dreamy ivory tower of ideology. Aloneness is something quite different.
Living with Yourself as You Are
You are never alone because you are full of all the memories, all the conditioning, all the mutterings of yesterday; your mind is never clear of all the rubbish it has accumulated. To be alone you must die to the past. When you are alone, totally alone, not belonging to any family, any nation, any culture, any particular continent, there is that sense of being an outsider. The man who is completely alone in this way is innocent and it is this innocency that frees the mind from sorrow.
We carry about with us the burden of what thousands of people have said and the memories of all our misfortunes. To abandon all that totally is to be alone, and the mind that is alone is not only innocent but young – not in time or age, but young, innocent, alive at whatever age – and only such a mind can see that which is truth and that which is not measurable by words.
In this solitude, you will begin to understand the necessity of living with yourself as you are, not as you think you should be or as you have been. See if you can look at yourself without any tremor, any false modesty, any fear, any justification or condemnation – just live with yourself as you actually are.
The Caring of Observation
It is only when you live with something intimately that you begin to understand it. But the moment you get used to it – get used to your own anxiety or envy or whatever it is – you are no longer living with it. If you live by a river, after a few days you do not hear the sound of the water any more, or if you have a picture in the room which you see every day you lose it after a week. It is the same with the mountains, the valleys, the trees – the same with your family, your husband, your wife. But to live with something like jealousy, envy or anxiety you must never get used to it, never accept it. You must care for it as you would care for a newly planted tree, protect it against the sun, against the storm. You must care for it, not condemn it or justify it. Therefore you begin to love it. When you care for it, you are beginning to love it. It is not that you love being envious or anxious, as so many people do, but rather that you care for watching.
So can you – can you and I – live with what we actually are, knowing ourselves to be dull, envious, fearful, believing we have tremendous affection when we have not, getting easily hurt, easily flattered and bored? Can we live with all that, neither accepting it nor denying it, but just observing it without becoming morbid, depressed or elated?
If You Say, ‘I am Free’, Then You are Not Free
Now let us ask ourselves a further question. Is this freedom, this solitude, this coming into contact with the whole structure of what we are in ourselves – is it to become upon through time? That is, is freedom to be achieved through a gradual process? Obviously not, because as soon as you introduce time you are enslaving yourself more and more. You cannot become free gradually. It is not a matter of time.
The next question is, can you become conscious of that freedom? If you say, ‘I am free’, then you are not free. It is like a man saying, ‘I am happy‘. The moment he says, ‘I am happy’ he is living in a memory of something that has gone. Freedom can only come about naturally, not through wishing, wanting, longing. Nor will you find it by creating an image of what you think it is. To come upon it, the mind has to learn to look at life, which is a vast movement, without the bondage of time, for freedom lies beyond the field of consciousness.