FREEDOM – FREE WILL – VIVEKANANDA
Vivekananda presents the harsh reality of the lack of freedom before the Path
All things in nature work according to law. Nothing is excepted.
The mind as well as everything in external nature
is governed and controlled by law.
Internal and external nature, mind and matter, are in time and space, and are bound by the law of causation.
The freedom of the mind is a delusion. How can the mind be free
when it is controlled and bound by law?
Everyone is as much bound in thought, word, deed, and mind, as a piece of stone or this table. That I talk to you now is as rigorous in causation as that you listen to me. There is no freedom until you go beyond Maya. That is the real freedom of the soul.
Men, however sharp and intellectual, however clearly they see the force
of the logic that nothing here can be free, are all compelled
to think they are free; they cannot help it.
It means that the freedom we talk about is the glimpse of the blue sky through the clouds and that the real freedom – the blue sky itself— is behind.
True freedom cannot exist in the midst of this delusion, this hallucination,
this nonsense of the world, this universe
of the senses, body, and mind.
He mentions something only too obvious, but which most forget all the time or never realized at all:
We must become free. We are free; the work
is to know it.
We must give up all slavery, all bondage of whatever kind. We must not only give up our bondage to earth and everything and everybody on earth, but also to all ideas of heaven and happiness.
We are bound to earth by desire and also to God, heaven, and the angels.
A slave is a slave whether to man, to God, or to angels.
The idea of freedom is the only true idea of salvation – freedom
from everything, the senses, whether of pleasure or pain,
from good as well as evil.
Only when you reject all help are you free.
If you think that you are bound, you remain bound; you make your own bondage. If you know that you are free, you are free this moment.
This is the knowledge of freedom.
Man has freedom already, but he will have to discover it. He has it, but every moment forgets it… But the difference between the sage and the ignorant is that one lives consciously and the other unconsciously.
Everyone is struggling for freedom –
from the atom to the star.
The ignorant man is satisfied if he can get freedom within a certain limit –
if he canget rid of the bondage of hunger or of being thirsty.
But that sage feels that there is a stronger bondage which has to be thrown off. He would not consider the freedom of the Red Indian as freedom at all.
Then he goes deeper into the issue:
More than this even, we must be free from death and to be free from death, we must be free from life. Life is but a dream of death. Where there is life, there will be death; so get away from life if you would be rid of death.
We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough.
You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free ever blessed. Have faith enough
and you will be free in a minute.
According to him, the Way to freedom is:
To acquire freedom we have to get beyond the limitations of this universe; it cannot be found here. Perfect equilibrium, or what the Christians call the peace that passeth all understanding, cannot be had in this universe, nor in heaven, nor in any place where our mind and thoughts can go, where the senses can feel, or which the imagination can conceive.
No such place can give us that freedom, because all such places
would be within our universe, and it is limited
by space, time, and causation.
Until we give up the thirst after life, the strong attachment to this our transient conditioned existence we have no hope of catching even a glimpse
of that infinite freedom beyond.
There is only one way to attain to that freedom which is the goal of all the noblest aspirations of mankind, and that is by giving up this little life, giving up this little universe, giving up this earth, giving up heaven, giving upthe body, giving up the mind, giving up everything that is limited and conditioned.
If we give up our attachment to this little universe of the senses or of the mind,
we shall be free immediately. The only way to come out of bondage
is to go beyond the limitations of law, to go beyond causation.
Then he goes even deeper into the issue:
That ideal of freedom that you perceived was correct, but you projected it
outside yourself, and that was your mistake.
Bring it nearer and nearer, until you find that it was all the time
within you; it was the Self of your own self.
That freedom was your own nature, and this Maya never bound you. Nature never has power over you. Like a frightened child you were dreaming that it was throttling you, and the release from this fear is the goal: not only to see it intellectually, but to perceive it, actualize it…
Then we shall know that we are free.
Then, and then alone, will all difficulties vanish, then will all the perplexities of heart be smoothed away, all crookedness made straight, then will vanish the delusion of manifoldness and nature;
Maya instead of being a horrible, hopeless dream as it is now will become
beautiful, and this earth, instead of being a prison-house,
will become our playground,
and even dangers and difficulties, even all sufferings, will become deified and show us their real nature, will show us that behind everything, as the substance of everything, He is standing, and that He is the one real Self.
The solution of the Vedanta is that
we are not bound, we are free already.
Not only so, but to say or to think that we are bound is dangerous – it is a mistake, it is self-hypnotism. As soon as you say, “I am bound,” “I am weak,” “I am helpless,” woe unto you; you rivet one more chain upon yourself.
Do not say it, do not think it. No work can go on until
we begin to say we are free.