Selections from the Upanishads

He knew that Brahman is bliss. For truly, beings here are born from bliss. When born, they live by bliss. And into bliss when departing, they enter.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1

The face of truth is covered with a golden disc. Unveil it, O Pushan, so that I, who love the truth, may see it.
O Pushan, the sole seer, O Controller, O Sun, off-spring of Prajapati, spread forth your rays & gather up your radiant light that I may behold you of loveliest form. Whosoever is that person (yonder) that also am I.

-- Isha Upanishad 15-16

I have overcome the whole world. I am brilliant like the Sun.
He who knows this, knows the secret wisdom.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.10.5

Friday, August 15, 2008

A few thoughts on freedom on Independence Day

Physical, external, & socio-political Freedom is the Freedom of Self-determination: the freedom to pursue one's values, to shape one's life in the image of one's personal ideal, to translate one's ideas into achievable concrete goals.
This freedom is self-destructive if not founded on Truth.
To live in Truth is not to do what I want to do, but to do what I ought to do.
What you want to do may or may not be right or good & hence, may be self-destructive -- the right & the good is what you ought to do.
Here we come to inner, psychological freedom.
The crux of the concept of Freedom is SELF-Direction, or SELF-Determination.
Hence, inner freedom - i.e., Freedom of Consciousness - is freedom from a state in which the contents of my consciousness: my knowledge, ideas, convictions are not consciously chosen by the purposeful exertion of MY WILL.
A consciousness shaped by random forces & impulses- functioning without clarity of perception & comprehension - is not a free consciousness.
I am free in anything in which the decision is MINE.
So what makes a MINE possible, in context of man's consciousness?
It means that I SHAPE my own mind & soul.
Purposeful exertion of will necessarily implies & constitutes consciously perceiving reality, consciously analyzing all the inputs I get, consciously engaging in integration & differentiation, in the process of evaluation, in selecting & deciding & prefering.
This necessarily implies & constitutes focusing on reality - on being fully conscious of truth.
Only when I consciously focus on reality - only when I wilfully direct the powers of my consciousness at a grasp of truth - in other words, only when I THINK - am I free.
This means: searching for WHAT IS TRUTH, WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE.
Otherwise, the awareness, differentiation, integration, analysis, evaluation & decision is not MINE - it is basically unconscious or semi-conscious, involving only a modicum of freedom.
Thus, real freedom is not "doing what you like" - but doing what you ought to like (this, only in the broadest, abstract terms - in metaphysical, spiritual & moral terms).

Freedom is the freedom from lack of focus on reality, & grasp of truth. Freedom from thoughtlessness, from irrationality.
As long as you are unaware of the totality & essence of truth, you are not acting in complete consciousness of - who you are - what the meaning & purpose of life is - and what are the goals proper to you as a human being.
The only true Freedom is the Freedom to Know, Learn, Think, & shape one's life in accordance to one's perception of Truth ONESELF.
The curtailment of THIS freedom is true lack of freedom.
All struggle for liberty is the struggle for the freedom of the individual to determine his life in accordance with HIS perception of eternal truth (grasped only through a process of experience & thought).
Self-determination being the very crux of the concept of freedom, the individual ought to think for HIMSELF, he ought to voluntarily focus on reality & grasp his own deepest truth HIMSELF, he ought to set his goals HIMSELF.
This gives him dignity, implies self-reliance, and is a direct manifestation of his autonomy as a being endowed with mind & conscience.
Conscription, for e.g., is a violation of freedom, because men are not allowed to evaluate & decide for themselves whether they ought to kill & be prepared to get killed, or not.
This evaluation & decision-making is done by someone else.
It directly violates man's status as a rational entity who can process facts, grasp truths, formulate convictions, and take decisions to shape the course of his life.
It deprives man of volitional integration of his life-action with the essential appartus he's endowed with to decide HOW to live: his mind & his conscience.

But, strictly speaking, the whole process of focusing on reality & grasping truth is a purely inner, individual phenomenon, and nobody can take it from you.
The Freedom of Consciousness can never be curbed: that's possible only when the consciousness itself is destroyed.
You might have all the freedom to do whatever you want to do, but if you are not consciously acting in accordance with the laws of truth, you are in bondage to ignorance & error --- to never-ending fear & suffering, hatred & anger, resentment & bewilderment.
You are in bondage to the determinism of forces & laws which act upon your life.
You are You only when you shape your soul & act in accordance with reality.
True freedom is the freedom to determine your life in full awareness of truth.

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