Rethinking FREEDOM

 

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40. FREEDOM

“The natural laws of the universe are inviolable: Energy condenses into substance. A person who neglects to breathe will turn blue and die. Some things simply can’t be dismissed.

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“It is also part of the cosmic law that what you say and do determines what happens in your life.” — Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching : The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu

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“Especially for those of us who lived in single cells, we discovered that sitting down just to think is one of the best ways of keeping yourself fresh . . . to address the problems facing you. You could stand away from yourself in the past and examine whether your behavior was befitting to a person who tried to serve society.” — Nelson Mandela, Interview, Larry King Live

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“When employees trade love, soul and freedom for maximizing profits, corporations lose their human center, and that’s as deadly for corporations as it is for us. The unhappiness and suffering that trade-offs create suggest that the paradigm is the culprit. We’re using bad software, and it’s distorting our concepts of what’s going on. We need all three together to be creative. When we’re destructive, it’s not because our nature is destructive, but because the trade-off paradigm is destructive to us.” — Breton & Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path

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THE FRONT

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Freedom is the state or quality of being free, implying exemption or liberation from the control of other people or arbitrary powers. It means liberty and independence. It implies exemption from arbitrary restriction or a specified civil right. It can mean exemption or release from imprisonment, or being able to act, move or use without hindrance or restraint. It means being able of itself to choose or determine action freely, at will, implying ease of movement performance or facility. It means being free from the usual rules or patterns. It can also mean easiness of manner, or sometimes an excessive frankness and familiarity.

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Like the words peace, love and unity, freedom is a state attained on the inside first, only then reflected in external circumstances. In I Ching context, freedom is a state of in-dependence, depending on inner resources for guidance, protection and peace. The freedom sages seek is the cessation of negative, involuntary patterns of behavior. Breaking the chains of destructive cause and effect is a function of focus combined with self-correction, forgiveness and atonement (at-one-ment) in positive action.

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Those secure in themselves dedicate their lives to extending the freedom they value for themselves to others without prejudice. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had the soul of a sage. He intuitively knew the basics of magic, and recognized the difference between black and white rules. He wrote, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.” As if direct from the Treatise on Esoteric Ethics, Abe delivered a speech in Wisconsin where he said, “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith do our duty as we understand it.”

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Yet legal prohibitions cannot end of slavery. Saying and doing whatever one wants as a puppet of blind impulse isn’t true freedom. Seeing through negative filters of fear, pride, or apathy is as limiting as literal blindness. Even in a society that calls itself democratic, to the extent we’re unaware of inner wisdom and the laws of natural change, we’re not really free.

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Soul is like the in-breath of life. Love is like the out-breath. Freedom is the intertwined marriage of soul and love in balanced, rhythmic exchange. When we can’t breathe freely, we slowly starve from within, and wither mysteriously even in the midst of apparent prosperity.

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Breton and Largent, quoting the Sufi mystic Rumi, write, “Whatever we do, we do from our inner compass. That’s free:

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Take someone who doesn’t keep score,

Who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,

Who has not the slightest interest even

in his own personality: He’s free.”

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In I Ching context, the self-mastery attained by thinking and acting consistently from a positive paradigm that’s simple, complete and correct is the most precious, inalienable freedom.

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Nelson Mandela’s life is proof that it’s not circumstances which enslave.

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THE BACK

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The opposite of freedom is imprisonment or slavery. This includes not only external, physical incarceration, but internal, self-imposed limitations. Bad attitudes, negative emotions and self-destructive habits can be as addicting as tobacco, alcohol or drugs, undermining personal freedom.

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Recklessness and heedlessness are perversions of freedom. If a mistrusted authority says not to drink, smoke or drive too fast, for example, the first thing a rebellious teen will do to assert “freedom” is disobey, regardless of the consequences. Sadly, this is the hard way to learn the connection between foolishness and disaster.

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Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching: the Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu. (HarperSanFrancisco: New York, 1992.) #40.

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Nelson Mandela, Larry King Live Interview, aired May 16, 2000. cnn.com/transcripts.

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Denise Breton & Christopher Largent, Love, Soul & Freedom: Dancing with Rumi on the Mystic Path. (Hazelden: Center City, Minnesota, 1998.) p. 7.

 

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