Freedom is a need of our being, both for material and spiritual growth. But what exactly is the nature of this freedom for which we yearn? Does it express itself merely in the freedom to speak or do as we like but something deeper, higher, nobler? As always man’s mind has a penchant to twist and distort every high divine mode of living and, like religion, freedom too has suffered this sad twist leading to much confusion and misunderstanding between groups of humanity and its troubled life beneath the stars. Today we share some insights on Freedom in the Light of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Words of the Mother
You see, the human species is a part of Nature, but as Sri Aurobindo has explained, from the moment mind expressed itself in man, it put him into a relationship with Nature very different from the relationship all the lower species have with her. All the lower species right up to man are completely under the rule of Nature; she makes them do whatever she wants, and they can do nothing without her consent. Whereas man begins to act and to live as an equal; not as an equal in terms of power, but from the standpoint of consciousness (he is beginning to do so since he has the capacity to study and to find out Nature’s secrets). He is not superior to her, far from it, but he is on an equal footing. And so he has acquired – this is a fact – he has acquired a certain power of independence that he immediately used to put himself under the influence of the hostile forces, which are not terrestrial but extra-terrestrial.
I am speaking of terrestrial Nature. Through their mental power, men had the choice and the freedom to make pacts with these extraterrestrial vital forces. There is a whole vital world that has nothing to do with the earth, it is entirely independent or prior to earth’s existence, it is self-existent – well, they have brought that down here! They have made … what we see! And such being the case … This is what terrestrial Nature told me: ‘It is beyond my control.’
You see, the mass is still under the great rule of Nature. I am referring to mental humanity, predominantly mental, which developed the mind but misused it and immediately set out on the wrong path – first thing.
There is nothing to say since the first thing done by the divine forces which emanated for the Creation was to take the wrong path!’ That is the origin, the seed of this marvelous spirit of independence – the negation of surrender, in other words. Man said, ‘I have the power to think; I will do with it what I want, and no one has the right to intervene. I am free, I am an independent being, IN-DE-PEN-DENT! So that’s how things stand: we are all independent beings!
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But if we had the vision of the whole, if we were able to contain past, present and future simultaneously (as it is somewhere up above), then we would see how relative these things are and that it’s mainly the progressing evolutionary Force which gives us this will to reject; yet when these things still had their place, they were quite tolerable. However, to have this experience in a practical sense is impossible unless we have a total vision – the vision that is the Supreme’s alone! Therefore, one must first identify with the Supreme, and then, keeping this identification, one can return to a consciousness sufficiently externalized to see things as they really are. But that’s the principle, and in so far as we are able to realize it, we reach a state of consciousness where we can look at all things with the smile of a complete certainty that everything is exactly as it should be.
Of course, people who don’t think deeply enough will say, ‘Oh, but if we see that things are exactly “as they should be,” then nothing will budge.’ But no! There isn’t a fraction of a second when things aren’t moving: there’s a continuous and total transformation, a movement that never stops. Only because it’s difficult for us to feel that way can we imagine that by our entering certain states of consciousness things would not change. Even if we entered into an apparently total inertia, things would continue to change and we along with them!
Ultimately, disgust, rebellion and anger, all movements of violence, are necessarily movements of ignorance and of limitation with all the weakness that limitation implies. Rebellion is a weakness, for it’s the feeling of an impotent will. When you feel, when you see that things are not as they should be, then you rebel against whatever is out of keeping with your vision. But if you were all-powerful, if your will and your vision were all-powerful, there would be no opportunity to rebel! You would always see that all things are as they should be! That is omnipotence.8 Then all these movements of violence become not only useless but profoundly ridiculous.
Consequently, there is only one solution: by aspiration, concentration, interiorization and identification, to unite with the supreme Will. And that is both omnipotence and perfect freedom. It’s the only omnipotence, the only freedom – all the rest are approximations. You may be en route, but it’s not That, not the total thing.
If you make the experiment, you will come to see that this supreme freedom and this supreme power are accompanied by a total peace and an unfaltering serenity; if you notice any contradiction – revolt, disgust or something inadmissible – this indicates that some part in You is not touched by the transformation, is still en route: something still holding on to the old consciousness, that’s all.
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“Freedom is the law of being in its illimitable unity, secret master of all Nature: servitude is the law of love in the being voluntarily giving itself to serve the play of its other selves in the multiplicity.”
At a superficial glance these two things appear absolutely contradictory
and incompatible. Outwardly one cannot conceive how one can be at once in freedom and in servitude, but there is an attitude which reconciles the two and makes them one of the happiest states of material existence.
Freedom is a sort of instinctive need, a necessity for the integral development of the being. In its essence it is a perfect realisation of the highest consciousness, it is the expression of Unity and of union with the Divine, it is the very sense of the Origin and the fulfilment. But because this Unity has manifested in the many—in the multiplicity—something had to serve as a link between the Origin and the manifestation, and the most perfect link one can conceive of is love. And what is the first gesture of love? To give oneself, to serve. What is its spontaneous, immediate, inevitable movement? To serve. To serve in a joyous, complete, total self-giving.
So, in their purity, in their truth, these two things—freedom and service—far from being contradictory, are complementary. It is in perfect union with the supreme Reality that perfect freedom is found, for all ignorance, all unconsciousness is a bondage which makes you inefficient, limited, powerless. The least ignorance in oneself is a limitation, one is no longer free.
As long as there is an element of unconsciousness in the being, it is a limitation, a bondage. Only in perfect union with the supreme Reality can perfect freedom exist. And how to realize this union if not through a spontaneous self-giving: the gift of love. And as I said, the first gesture, the first expression of love is service.
So the two are closely united in the Truth. But here on earth, in this world of ignorance and inconscience, this service which should have been spontaneous, full of love, the very expression of love, has become something imposed, an inevitable necessity, performed only for the maintenance of life, for the continuation of existence, and thus it has become something ugly, miserable —humiliating. What should have been a flowering, a joy, has become an ugliness, a weariness, a sordid obligation. And this sense, this need for freedom has also been deformed and has become that kind of thirst for independence which leads straight to revolt, to separation, isolation, the very opposite of true freedom.
Independence!… I remember having heard an old occultist and sage give a beautiful reply to someone who said, “I want to be independent! I am an independent being! I exist only when I am independent!” And the other answered him with a smile, “Then that means that nobody will love you, because if someone loves you, you immediately become dependent on this love.” It is a beautiful reply, for it is indeed love which leads to Unity and it is Unity which is the true expression of freedom.
And so those who in the name of their right to freedom claim independence, turn their backs completely on this true freedom, for they deny love. The deformation comes from constraint. One cannot love through compulsion, you cannot be compelled to love, it is no longer love. Therefore, as soon as compulsion intervenes, it becomes a falsehood. All the movements of the inner being must be spontaneous movements, with that spontaneity which comes from an inner harmony, an understanding —from a voluntary self-giving—from a return to the deeper truth, the reality of being, the Origin and the Goal.
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“163 – The power to observe law rigidly is the basis of freedom; therefore in most disciplines the soul has to endure and fulfil the law in its lower members before it can rise to the perfect freedom of its divine being. Those disciplines which begin with freedom are only for the mighty ones who are naturally free or in former lives have founded their freedom.”
“165 – To observe the law we have imposed on ourselves rather than the law of others is what is meant by liberty in our unregenerate condition. Only in God and by the supremacy of the spirit can we enjoy a perfect freedom.”
Sri Aurobindo: Thoughts and Aphorisms
True liberty is to be in constant union with the Divine and to do only what the Divine wants us to do.
But until then, it is better to impose on ourselves a higher law of action and conduct and to observe it scrupulously rather than to obey the law of other men or of moral and social conventions.
When one lives in a community, does it not often become necessary to obey laws imposed by others instead of following the disciplines one would wish for oneself?
It is obvious that if you have chosen or accepted to live in a community, you must observe the laws of that community, otherwise you become an element of disorder and confusion. But a discipline willingly accepted cannot be harmful to the inner development and the growth of the higher consciousness.
Mar 2, 2015