“F” is for Freedom
Yes, this picture of “Freedom” is blurry. It’s intentional as I think that Freedom should be blurry. It should be not quite clearly known; it should be vague and we should be just a little uncomfortable with it. Like this picture, it should be a little hard to look at.
Here’s what I’m thinking….
We United Statesians believe that it’s our right to be “free”. This “freedom” we think of is basically freedom TO*: freedom TO do whatever I want; go wherever I want; buy whatever I want; eat/drink whatever I want— essentially, freedom to have CHOICE. This IS what “the American Way” is about we think and believe, wouldn’t you agree?
In Buddhist, freedom FROM* is what’s more valued. Perhaps, you could even say what our practice is about. Very specifically: freedom from hate, greed, and delusion/ignorance. To be free from our clinging; our obsessiveness with these three poisons.
More and more, I think that mostly my practice is to become aware of HOW hate, greed and delusion are a constant force in my life. They’re like a divining rod that I carry in front of me….waving over and around everything and everyone I come into contact with….to evaluate whether I should get closer, turn away/run from, or be confused about.
It’s the noticing this force that is a major key in practice.
Otherwise, I’m waving my stick and evaluating from these forces to react to the world…. All the while, thinking I’m “making choices”— getting/gaining/living my “inalienable” right to choose!
How silly. How useless. And how tiring…. All this grasping and clinging at, running from, or being confused by it all is tiring!
STOPPING this force — or, probably more correctly/often being able to PAUSE in the MIDST of these forces — is the key. When we practice, we build capacity to be able to know, be in the midst of, and then to have the ability to let go — to not engage!— in this force.
“Freedom” to choose flavors of coffee, colors of skinny jeans, and what I do or don’t do is fun; even useful and necessary at times to function on a daily basis. However, when the coffee shop is out of Sumatra, the store doesn’t have the “latest” bright color I want in my jeans this week, or I “can’t” go out ‘cause it’s raining or because my child is sick, the ability to be “free” to choose how I respond is the key.
This is liberation/freedom.
Would you agree?
I think so….. At least for now. It’s an idea which I’m turning and being with these days. I don’t know for sure. Especially as I’m not isolated in this world. The impact of how I choose effects much.
Therefore, I’m willing to be ok that my view of “Freedom” is blurry; unclear. Since looking fully on to it can be disconcerting, perhaps it’s enough to just look at it out of the side of my eyes….
* This distinction between to/from is an idea I heard from Gil Fronsdal on a web talk several years ago. I don’t remember the specifics of what he said further on this topic. I do want to acknowledge how impactful hearing this distinction was for me. However, any ideas (or mistakes) expressed here are my own.