Free of Freedom

Free of Freedom

2018 began on a very sombre, subdued and introspective note, but its closure is bringing hope and new prospects with it. I am eagerly looking forward to the dawn of 2019. With the number of grieving moments far outnumbering the celebratory occasions which spanned the year, life’s questions kept resurfacing. Every news of a death or grave illness made me realize how ephemeral life is, and I felt the urgency of having to accomplish whatever I set out to achieve in life. I awakened to the verity that my life is slipping through my fingers; like the grains of sand I refused to let go from my vice- like grip, yet very effortlessly they always manage to break free.

On the other hand, news of a wedding or a birth makes me feel as if life has just commenced, or a new opportunity has just opened its doors, and I have ample time to ponder, plan and proceed; life would perpetuate, be my ally. This oscillation between the feeling of imminent mortality and lasting immortality, depending on the supervening circumstances and events of life, summarises my 2018. The year rolled by with me updating my bucket list on one side of my journal and the prospective ventures I planned to start featuring on the other.

Interestingly, during the first half of the year, I had a barrage of all-time low experiences. Everywhere I turned, I encountered some dismal news, personally and professionally. It was as if each passing day was telling me to close my affairs as urgently as possible; I may not live to see a tomorrow. So that is how I lived the first six months, like there is no tomorrow. Learning to live in the moment, savour the moment, to be a part of the journey and stop fretting about the destination became my mantra. Living in the moment and experiencing it, be it of sadness and pain, or of pleasure and joy became a transformative learning. I could live a lifetime in that moment of pain or pleasure and yet remain unaffected and equanimous within, by being the observer. Alternatively, I could revel in that feeling of pain or pleasure, become bonded to it and allow every other experience to bypass me, by getting engrossed in this one experience. The option of being in its grip, or free of it; this is a choice I always have. This was a revelation to me.

The second half of the year went away like a breeze, with many celebrations and success moments; yet, my inner climate never reached the satiated stillness point. It craved for something else, something more. Not encumbered by anyone or any situation on the outside; my inner climate, my perpetual embroiled state with my own situation and environment kept me shackled. So, to sum it up, I was free in the literal sense of the term, yet I felt chained. Life is such magical web, it seemed to ensnare me further and furthermore, never allowing me to free myself of desires and wants.

“Ashtavakra (and I agree with him) does not believe in emptiness of action. Action here is never born out of self-interest, i.e., out of what is good for me. Action derives from what is good for the whole.

Void of action refers to the action of the wave becoming the ocean. The essence of the wave in the sea is not described by the shape of the wave; it is the water.

The question is, do I realize that I am awareness? Can I observe the essence, the state of alone, the void of action? Can I be the wave but never forget the awareness of the essence, which is the ocean. This is what Ashtavakra mean by cutting the bondage.” (Third Sutra – page 45; Bitten by the Black Snake by Manuel Schoch)

If I were a drop of water trying to make my way to the ocean, all this knowledge of experience becomes a vicious cycle, my bondage. Resultantly, these very insights become a hinderance for the drop to merge with the ocean. It gives me the illusion that every pond (experience I have) is an ocean, and I have arrived, reached the culmination. This knowledge is robbing me of my spirit of enquiry and lulling me into an illusory ephemeral state of peace. The lasting true merger is only possible if I can sell this knowledge and buy confusion (innocence and the wisdom to wonder).

How could I break free of this loop with a string of goals to achieve? All of them were my goals, and I was actively engaged, motivated, earnest about all my dreams and wishes. I was a wave which reached a pond or a stream and thought it to be the ocean. Temporarily, if the wave could forget its exclusivity, the wave and the ocean became one, but very soon something would happen, and the wave separated itself from the ocean, creating an all new experience for itself. The wave swept the shores and unlike the ocean was never able to leave behind the debris. The high tide came, and the wave danced with joy and went further into the ocean, unable to divest itself of the desire to retain its uniqueness. Unfortunately, this very desire to be free became my biggest bondage and I spent 2018 like this wave; making its way to the ocean but forever forgetting the essence.

To be free of freedom, I had to abandon the thought and desire to be free. Live like a wave with awareness of the ocean. That’s our essence too; we were always free. We are caged by our own thoughts, desires and fears.

Here’s wishing ALL of you a free of freedom filled 2019 and every year after.