By Jayaram V
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What is liberation? I would like to answer this question
from two different perspectives. Liberation in a general sense means
liberation from whatever that holds you back or keeps in check.
There are many types of liberation. We speak here only two types
of liberation, spiritual liberation and mental liberation. Spiritual
liberation means liberation of the individual souls from the cycle
of births and deaths. For an atheist, death is the final liberation.
He believes that there is nothing beyond death. You experience both
heaven and hell here upon earth when you are alive. In some traditions
liberation means going to heaven. According to many eastern religions,
death is just a liberation from the body but not from the impurities
such as egoism, bondage and ignorance. In Hinduism, liberation means
going beyond heaven into eternity and remaining free from rebirth,
modifications, qualities and conditions Spiritual liberation requires
lot of effort and personal sacrifices. We are not going to discuss
this kind of liberation in this presentation. I would like to focus
upon the second type of liberation, which is mental liberation or
liberation from the mind. It is important to our happiness here
and our liberation hereafter.
For a human being, the mind is a great facilitator. However,
if you examine closely, you also realize that the mind presents
a huge problem to all of us. All battles are fought in the mind,
and all happiness and suffering are experienced in the mind. Depending
upon how we make use of them and control them, we shape our lives
and destinies upon earth.
Therefore, we must learn not only to make use of our minds intelligently
with great discretion but also to remain free from its negative
and unhealthy influences. This is the true essence of mental liberation.
Physically you may be bound to the conditions life and society impose
upon you, but mentally you must be free from them. Physically, you
may be imprisoned in your body, but mentally you must be detached
from it. Nature might not have given you wings, but you can give
wings to your mind and let it fly freely.
Freedom comes with responsibility. It means you should enjoy
your freedom but should not ignore your duties and obligations.
Freedom does not mean you will do whatever you want, ignoring the
consequences of your actions and decisions. True freedom implies
that you use discretion in exercising your freedom and enjoy the
rewards its bring without being burdened by the consequences. This
is the essence of the Bhagavadgita. Even God, who is free in every
aspect, follows this norm to uphold His creation.
Mental liberation means freedom from the conditioning to which
we are subject. It is liberation from the learning, beliefs, values,
opinions, prejudices, judgments, world views, attitudes, standards,
which we harbor in our minds because of our interaction with the
external world. Each of these holds us down to a particular belief
and value system to which we remain bound for the rest of our lives.
Mental liberation means freedom from all these. In a specific sense,
a mentally liberated person is free from desires, expectations,
need for approval, fear and anxiety and attachments. A mentally
liberated person is distinguished by the following qualities.
He is free from opinions, judgments, attraction, aversion, beliefs,
prejudices and personal pride.
He does not hold grudges against others even if they have hurt
him or harmed him.
He does not believe in the need to control others or enforce
his beliefs upon them.
He is not afraid to speak his mind, but does not expect others
to listen to him.
He walks freely without the weight of his past or anxiety about
He treats everyone equally and remains the same to all dualities.
He is not afraid to step out of his comfort zone and deal with
He does not feel the need to defend himself or offend others
to make himself feel good.
He is free from drawing comparisons and measuring himself against
Besides, he does all this with no particular aim but as a result
of his inner freedom.
Mental liberation is liberation from the perception, conditioning,
duality, ignorance, self-limiting beliefs, judgments, opinions,
individuality, desires, expectations, self-importance, fear, anxiety,
anger, envy and such negative emotions. A mentally liberated person
has a flexible mindset, instead of a rigid mindset. He is in harmony
with the flow of things, mentally expecting nothing, opposing nothing,
defending nothing and holding onto nothing. Mentally, he offers
no resistance to the conditions that life imposes upon him, while
physically he may engage in actions to protect himself or others
from them. Outwardly he may engage in actions as part of his duty,
but inwardly he remains free from the bonds that usually hold people
under their control.
The kind of mental liberation I have explained here is the key
to our spiritual liberation. Your freedom starts in the mind, first
as an idea or concept, and later as a reality. It is in the mind
the battle has to be fought against the forces that try to control
us, and it is in the mind freedom has to be won before we can free
ourselves physically from the bondage to the earthly life. In other
words, there is not much difference between mental and spiritual
liberation. Mental liberation culminates in spiritual liberation.
Being truly liberated from this world, you must be mentally liberated
from it first. Physical liberation is also important. However, physical
liberation is not possible unless you are in control of your mind
and unless you are free from its modifications.
How can you achieve mental liberation? Tradition suggests that
you must control your mind and body before you become mentally free
from them. If you can silence your mind and body completely and
free yourself from their modifications (vrittis), you will have
freedom to be yourself and experience your inner freedom. It means
you have to discipline both of them and transform them before you
can transcend them. The following are also considered helpful.
2. Knowledge and understanding
4. Freedom from irrational beliefs
5. Freedom from expectations
11. Absence of egoism, greed, envy, lust and other evils
True freedom is a state of mind. While outwardly you may be bound
to the rules and norms of society, inwardly you can be free. If
you are afraid, defensive, aggressive or expectant, it means you
are not free. Mental liberation is liberation from authority, knowledge,
past and future, relationships, conditions, compulsions, values,
beliefs, and whatever the world worships blindly and superstitiously
with motive and fear. It is a condition in which one is free from
the mind itself.
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