Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Freedom Exacts Its Price

Are we free to choose?

Conventional wisdom harangues from the rooftop— we live in a free society. Notwithstanding, our freedom stops at the boundary of our neighbor’s freedom, such is the very definition of freedom.

The truth is everything is relative. When we say the USA, or for that matter, the western world has a free society, that freedom is only in relation to other under developed countries.

The word freedom, used in the absolute context, is an oxymoron. Absolute freedom is absolute bondage, because our freedom ends where our neighbor’s freedom begins.

Let’s talk of faith.

Are we free to choose our faith?

The question gives rise to other questions. Are we at a juncture of life where we have done the required soul searching and made a conscious decision to make a choice? Will the society let us choose what we want to choose? Will we be happy with our new choices? Do we need to make our own choices?

The answer is predominantly in the negative for most of these questions. We are social animals. We cannot live alone. Well, most of us anyway. When we live among our kin, we are bound by their edict. The eastern culture reflects this more radically.

Long before people in the west built their shining cities, Santan Dharma laid down the principles of rules of living, which were profound and pragmatic. The overbearing doctrine sacrificed individual freedom for the greater good of the society. The result was one of the first great civilizations in human history. It is another matter that degeneration in society set in later and gave bad name to many practices of the Hindus. However, such is the common tale with all great religions. With time, religion depreciates.

It was the same with Taoism of China, which preceded the Vedas. The indoctrination of Taoism is so refreshing, that it is still considered modern and is applicable in our time. These are the eternal bodies of Truth. However, are we free to choose?

What is faith by the way? What does faith have to do with religious belief? Don’t we often say faith and imply religion?

When the mystic Gurdjief was asked a similar question, he replied: “You wish to know? To really know you must suffer. Can you suffer?”

To make a free choice we must suffer.