Free thoughts — of a person in bondage!

All of us make hues and cries about freedom. We talk about being a free thinker, the freedom of expression, the freedom of being able to get what we want. Yet, do we hardly ask, “How does thoughts arise in me, as me? Am I really choosing my thoughts and emotions?”

To be truly free in our thoughts, we must be thinking from a clear position of direct wisdom. Often, that is not the case. We constantly remain influenced by all that we have heard — the presumptions, inclinations and taboos that we have developed based on what we have heard already. Yet, we keep on proclaiming ourselves to be ‘free’ thinkers!

We may have all the freedom in the world to go and get what we wish. Yet, if we don’t care how a wish rises up within, are we really free? If the state of mind that we are in is not our choice, are we really free? Often, situations and habits push us into certain state of mind and the ‘wish’ that we have is simply the result of that bondage — of being pushed into a state by situations and habits. Yet, we crave for only that freedom — of being able to pursue the wishes that bondage presents us! We hardly think of breaking beyond the original bondage!

Which freedom are we concerned with?

Are we truly free if we cannot ‘choose to be happy’? Ordinarily, feelings of happiness and suffering, and various constructive and destructive emotions arise within oneself, as oneself, without any choice. They just come up in a chain of cause and effect connections and in relation to stimuli from everything around. Often, we remain cocooned by following these fleeting emotions, and yet we call it a state of freedom!

Here is a poem titled “Freedom” at Way of Bodhi exploring this in detail. In that poem, I try to sketch a deeper kind of freedom that the Buddha revealed — a deeper state of inner freedom and peace that every one is able to attain — a freedom that we miss simply because we hardly noticed even the possibility of that. In the absence of that freedom that the Buddha called Nirvana, all other freedoms remain simply the illusion of freedom — the expressions of bondage!