In America, we value freedom. It is our highest ideal, and the founding principle of our Constitution, the basis of law for our country. Soldiers fight and die for freedom with their bodies, while civilians and lawmakers fight for freedom with their words. Yet, with all of this emphasis and desire for freedom, do we actually know what it really is?
What we usually consider ‘freedom’ is not true freedom. It is a limited type of freedom, a relative freedom. It is limited because if you try and push your freedoms as far as they will go, you will soon find that there will be a limit to what you can do and say. Some of these limits are formalized and written, while others are more social and unspoken.
Our freedom is relative because it only exists depending on certain circumstances and in certain situations. For example, the freedom that someone may have at one point in time can easily be taken away at another time. Wartime is a great example of this. During times of war, many limitations are put on an individuals’ freedom. Also, throughout American history the rights of certain groups and sometimes of everyone have been limited or taken away altogether. The Alien and Sedition acts, the internment of Japanese Americans, African-American slavery etc. Clearly, the relative freedoms we enjoy are not true freedom.
So what then, is true freedom them? True freedom is not conditional, not relative, and is not limited. It does not depend upon a particular form of government or living in a certain country. It cannot be given by anyone, and therefore cannot be taken away by anyone. True freedom is the freedom of liberation. Liberation from our limited body, and from our conditioned mind which is contaminated with ignorance and delusions.
True freedom is an experience beyond this physical world. It is an experience of the absence of limitations. It is like pure spaciousness; an inner experience of peace. Since it does not depend on controlling external things, it can never be taken away. It does not need to be fought for, because no amount of fighting or killing will ever bring it about. All that is needed is the wish to be truly free, and the wisdom to recognize what true freedom really is. Once you have this wisdom, you will no longer seek relative freedom, and true freedom will be yours.