What is Freedom?

Deepak Chopra

What is Freedom?

What is freedom and how do I experience it?

One of the most crucial aspects of life is the notion of freedom and the notion of bondage. Ultimately, our goal is to experience freedom, but to understand what freedom is we first have to understand what bondage is.

To be in bondage is to be stuck in this or that possibility, having lost the ability to choose from an infinite range of responses. The bondage is always to our own boundaries, to our own beliefs and conditioned responses.

Freedom comes from the experiential knowledge of our true nature, which is already free. It comes from finding out that our real essence is the joyful field of infinite consciousness that animates all of creation. To have the experience of that silent witness is just to be.

The silent witness is awareness itself. Awareness, aware of itself, is presence, profound wisdom, and peace. Therefore, the key to freedom is to live in self-referred consciousness, which means to identify with your inner self instead of your self-image. Within this freedom lies the ability to spontaneously put your attention on those choices that bring joy to you, and also joy to others. And how do you experience freedom?

Practice Life-Centered, Present-Moment Awareness

Come out of the prison of time-bound awareness and enter the world of the timeless and free. The prison of time-bound awareness is the world of separation and suffering. The world of the timeless is the world of pure consciousness, where every moment is free. This moment is free because all your troubles live in the past or in the future, which means they live in your imagination.

When a situation is troubling you, then ask yourself, What’s wrong right now? If you do this, then you realize that in this moment there are no problems. Separate the situation from the moment, because the situation will pass, while the moment will remain. The situation always transforms, but every moment remains perfect and unchanged.

Life is in this moment. Therefore, live in this moment. Act in this moment. Intend in this moment. Detach from worry in this moment. Stay in this moment. This is life-centered, present-moment awareness.

Observe Your Addictive Behaviors Without Judgment

The next step in the flight to freedom is to observe your addictive behaviors without judgment. Addiction is the number-one disease of civilization, and it’s directly and indirectly related to all other diseases.

Besides physical addictions, such as the addiction to food, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, there are psychological addictions, such as the addiction to work, to sex, to television, to shopping, to appearing young, to control, to suffering, to anxiety, to melodrama, to perfection. We are addicted because we are not living from our source; we have lost our connection to our soul.

The use of food, alcohol, or drugs is essentially a material response to a need that is not really physical at its foundation. Self-destructive behavior is unrecognized spiritual craving. All addictions are really a search for the exultation of spirit, and this search has to do with the expansion of consciousness, the intoxication of love, which is pure consciousness.

Start today to transcend your addictive behaviors by observing them without judgment. Wake every day with a prayer: “Thank you, God, for making me just as I am,” and then observe yourself. Be a witness to your thoughts, your moods, your reactions, your behaviors. They represent your memories of the past, and by witnessing them in the present, you liberate yourself of the past.

By observing your addictive behaviors, you observe your conditioning. And when you observe your conditioning, you are free of it, because you are not your conditioning; you are the observer of your conditioning.

Transcend Your Fear of the Unknown

Within every moment, there lies a junction point between the unknown and the known. In that junction point the unknown transforms into the known. The known is everything that has already happened. As soon as you say “known,” it’s in the past; it’s gone. The known is a memory.

The unknown is the field of all possibilities in every successive moment of the present. The unknown is the unlimited and the free. You are in the unknown at this moment, and everything from this moment onward is the unknown

Most people fear the unknown, when they should really be afraid of the known. To live in the known is to live in the prison of the past, and therefore in the imagination. The real reality is the unknown, so why not live in what is actually real? When we step into the unknown, we are free of the past. When we step into the unknown, we are free of every limitation because fresh choices are available in every moment of our existence.

The poet Rumi says, “We are tasting the taste, this moment, of eternity.” Transcend your fear of the unknown by keeping your attention on the present moment. Taste this moment as a moment of eternity, and you will taste the experience of freedom.

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Excerpted from Power, Freedom, and Grace: Living from the Source of Lasting Happiness (Chapter 10: What is freedom and how do I experience it?) Copyright © 2006 by Deepak Chopra. Published by Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc.

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