Quote of the Day

Jul 13, 2021
What do we mean by freedom and do we really want to be free? I am not at all sure that most of us want to be completely free of every burden, rather we should like to keep some pleasurable, satisfying, complex ideologies and gratifying formulas. We should of course like to be free of those things that are painful - the ugly memories, painful experiences and so on. So we should go into this question of freedom and enquire whether it is at all possible to be free, or if it is an ideological utopia, a concept which has no reality whatsoever. We all say we would like to be free, but I think that before we pursue that desire with which our inclinations or tendencies confront us, we should understand the nature and the structure of freedom. Is it freedom when you are free from something, free from pain, free from some kind of anxiety; or is not freedom itself entirely different from freedom from something? One can be free from anger, perhaps from jealousy, but is not freedom from something a reaction and therefore not freedom at all?

Is not freedom something entirely different from any reaction, any inclination, any desire? One can be free from dogma very easily, by analysing, kicking it out, yet the motive for that freedom from a dogma contains its own reaction, doesn't it? The motive, the desire to be free from a dogma, may be that it is no longer convenient, no longer fashionable, no longer reasonable, no longer popular, circumstances are against it and therefore you want to be free from it; these are merely reactions. Is reaction away from anything freedom - or is freedom something entirely different from reaction, standing by itself without any motive, not dependent upon any inclination, tendency and circumstance? Is there such a thing as that kind of freedom? One can be free from nationalism because one believes in internationalism, or because it is no longer economically necessary with a Common market in which it is no longer worth keeping the dogma of nationalism with its flag; you can easily put that away. But has such rationalization or logical conclusion anything to do with freedom? Nor can a leader, spiritual or political, promise freedom at the end of something - for can freedom which comes about through discipline, through conformity, through acceptance, that promises the ideal through the following of that ideal, be freedom? Or is freedom a state of mind which is so intensely active, vigorous, that it throws away every form of dependence, slavery, conformity and acceptance? Does the mind want such freedom? Such freedom implies complete solitude, a state of mind which is not dependent on circumstantial stimulation, ideas, experience. Freedom of that kind obviously means aloneness, solitude. Can the mind brought up in a culture that is so dependent upon environment, on its own tendencies, inclinations, ever find that freedom which is completely alone? It is only in such solitude that there can be relationship with another; in it there is no friction, no dominance, no dependence. Please, you have to understand this, it is not just s verbal conclusion, which you accept or deny. Is this what each individual demands and insists upon - a freedom in which there is no leadership, no tradition, no authority?

Otherwise there is not freedom; otherwise when you say you are free from something, it is merely a reaction, which, because it is a reaction, is going to be the cause of another reaction. One can have a chain of reactions, accepting each reaction as a freedom, but that chain is not freedom, it is a continuity of the modified past to which the mind clings.
5th Public Talk, 18th July 1967 Saanen Switzerlan Read full text