Today (15th August 2010) marks the completion of 63 years since India got political freedom, but we are yet to achieve other types of freedom. This is the truth of the outer world.
Just like in the outer world, freedom is the highest ideal in the inner world too. Our ancestors called it liberation or salvation. To know about liberation, we should first know the chains that are binding us. Only then we can think of and try for liberation.
Externally, everyone may think that he is free. But internally, we are all slaves. One may be rich or poor, literate or illiterate, highly placed in society leading a luxurious life or may be poor with nothing to eat. Despite their different positions, all of them are slaves in the inner world.
Let us see how we become slaves.
The First Type:
We are slaves to others’ opinions. Major portion of our life is spent in satisfying the needs of others. The clothes we wear are not for us but for others so that the ‘other’ might think better of us. We pretend to be good, so that others might think we are good. We want to have all the comforts that others have, even if we don’t need them. We blindly follow others and waste our time and life in accumulating things which we don’t really need. To earn the approbation of others, we waste our precious life in unnecessary pursuits. We reach out for the appreciation of others and believe that we know everything. We do not know what we want. We do not know where our life leads us to. We are mere puppets in the hands of others. We are slaves of others’ approval. We are the puppets of society we live in. How much freedom does such a life really have?
The Second Type:
We are slaves to our emotions. The five sensory organs are not in our control but we are in their control. We are dancing according to their tunes. If we happen to see a beautiful place or a person, we cannot refrain from looking at it. When we smell any spicy dish, our mouth starts to water involuntarily. We cannot abstain from impulsive shopping. We are unable to control hunger, thirst and sleep as well as our desires and emotions. We are slaves of our sense organs. We merely follow, wherever they drag us to. Can this be called freedom?
The Third Type:
We are slaves to our mind. Mind does not listen to us. We are dancing according to its tune. If we command “Be still for a moment” then in that very moment, the mind desires for a hundred things. It is the thoughts that drive us but not vice versa. Our thoughts are not in our control. Our mind is not in our control. How can this be called freedom?
The Fourth Type:
We are slaves to our ego. I have to be different from everyone else. I am superior to everyone else. I should be ahead of everyone else. All others should listen to me. I should maintain my uniqueness. I should be happy. To achieve my goals, whatever happens to others does not matter to me. Only my job is important to me. In this way, thinking always ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘mine’, we remain slaves of our egos. To satisfy our egos we do anything and everything. At the time of death, what will happen to the ego to which we remain so enslaved throughout our lives? Where will it go? We never think about it. Am I devoting my entire life to the ego, which will burst like a bubble and disappear in a minute at the time of my death? Am I wasting in an illusion, my life, which is nothing but a grand opportunity given by God or Nature to solve the mystery of life? Will I exit from life as a failure?
Are we really free? If the answer is yes, where is it? Our country may have become politically free and those who want to loot society’s wealth may have gained freedom. However, political freedom is not what we aim for and is certainly not the ultimate goal of our life.
When I am free from the slavery of others and their thoughts, their opinions, their compulsions, their demands, their psychological traps, then it might be the real freedom.
When I am free from the slavery of my thoughts and my ego, then it is the real freedom.
When I am free from the slavery of my senses, then it is the real freedom.
Finally when I become free from my own self, then it is the real freedom.
To achieve this ultimate freedom is liberation. It is salvation. This liberation will never come to us from others. Nobody can bind me unless I concur to be bound. My slavery is a cage which I have built around myself. I, myself should break this and come out of this. It is the liberation for me, from me. It is the liberation from Nature. It is the liberation from the karmic cycle which has been binding me from many lifetimes.
Yogis desire nothing but this freedom. They don’t accept any freedom less than this. They don’t consider political, social and financial freedoms as real freedom at all.
To achieve this freedom, we need to have unflinching dedication to evolve on the spiritual path. We need to practice sadhana. Is the saying from Upanishads - “The infinitude of Atman cannot be achieved by the weak” not waking us up? Are we unable to hear the inspiring message of the sages who are our ancestors? Is it desirable to end our life in a failure?
We celebrate 63 years of independence. But do we know how many thousands of lives we have been travelling in a cycle? Do we know in how many seasons, in how many countries, in how many places this soul has played its role? Do we remember how many thousands of years were lived without freedom?
Think ! The sages who were our ancestors, are ashamed of us. Be on the path of Sadhana. Practice real yoga. Start practicing yoga, India’s divine knowledge, which will help you to break the karmic cycle binding you through countless lives.
Only then can you celebrate real Independence day. If not, it will be just another day to get together and make merry, but not a real independence day.
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Snehalata M, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on August 15, 2010. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.