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How to check whether one is really free? || Acharya Prashant (2019)

Author Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant

7 min
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Questioner: I want to know how we can identify attachment or bondage, because sometimes we don’t even know what we are bound by. For example, I feel like I am not currently bound by anything specific, and that I can give up whatever I want to at any time. So, how can I discover where the attachment really lies? Because before I actually see where it is, I can’t do anything about it.

Also, are freedom and liberation the same thing? You have said that most people are terrified by freedom. What is so scary about freedom? Freedom sounds like a very good thing to me, but I don’t know if my understanding of the word ‘freedom’ is correct or not. I want to know what exactly freedom means and how to identify these attachments.

Acharya Prashant: See, when inside a cage, it is not necessary that you feel unfree. If you are just contented circling inside the enclosed area, you will feel free. Whether you are really free would be determined only when you try to go beyond your patterns. Once you have consented to remaining within a specified area, it is quite likely that you will not experience any bondage. Now the bondage is hidden, implicit, latent; it will not show up. It will not explicitly show up because your very movement is in bondage.

Bondage shows up when your movement hits against bondage. If your movement is within the enclosure, bondage will not show up. Bondage shows up when your movement hits against the enclosure. That will happen only when you try something out of your regular patterns and then see whether you easily take to the beyond.

If you want to determine whether you are really free, try going beyond your regular life. It is quite possible that your enclosure is wide and spacious, and you are circling a very narrow area, a very narrow circle; the walls, the enclosures are a bit far away, you don’t even perceive them. But try going a little astray, try running a little amok, a little wild. Just for the sake of it, try challenging your regular and fixed life, and then the cage, the walls, the prohibitions, and the lock will announce themselves with a dreadful and awful roar, and then you will suddenly realize how unforgiving, how unrelenting the cage is.

The cage is not a cage if you are okay within the cage. The cage is a cage only when you strike against the cage. If you are not experiencing any bondage, it might be worse news than suffering in bondage. Not experiencing any bondage means getting acclimatized to the bondage or being absolutely free, either of the two. About absolute freedom only you can tell, but about the dangers I can warn. There have been so many who have been living awfully blissful lives. They have been living in what we call the fool’s paradise, thinking that they are free, like the proverbial doll in the doll’s house. “I am such a celebrated presence here, you know, in the doll’s house.” Yes, you are a celebrated presence, till you try to walk free, till you try to walk out, and then you know what your real worth is.

Now you know why most people never get freedom: because most people never experience any bondage at all. Why don’t they experience any bondage? Because they are happy within the bondage. What is bondage, then? Happiness. It keeps you happy! Bondage is not dreadful at all; in many senses it is blissful. So many types of bliss we know of, don’t we? Conjugal bliss and nuptial bliss and maternal bliss.

There are so many videos on YouTube that have mukti or freedom or liberation in their title. And so many watchers, they actually, genuinely post a comment; they say, “But why is mukti needed?” And they aren’t pretending; their query is genuine. They are saying, “Who the hell wants liberation? And Acharya Ji premises all his teachings on the foundation of liberation. He says, ‘You want mukti , therefore you must do all this.’ The very premise is unfounded. We don’t want liberation at all!” You do want liberation; it’s just that you do not even know that you are in bondage.

When will you know you are in bondage? When you fall in love. When you fall in love, that’s when it first strikes you how deeply enslaved you are. Unless you know love, you will not suffer, you will remain happy. That’s the punishment of a loveless life—happiness. Happy—and loveless. The day you fall in love, all your happiness will vanish. The day you fall in love, you realize what chains and what walls dominate you. In fact, it is impossible to get rid of happiness without falling in love; you will just remain cool and happy. You know the kind I am referring to, right? Happy and cool.

Fall in love. Get attracted to somebody beyond your patterns. That will force you to violate your patterns, and then you will find you can’t violate, and suddenly you will realize you are in bondage; you can’t violate your patterns. Love is calling and yet you can’t respond, and then you will suddenly realize there is so much that holds you back.

The state of the suffering one is really bad, really bad. But far worse is the state of the one who is cool and happy. Unfortunately, we have taught an entire generation coolness. They have no depth; they know no suffering. There is no yoga for them because they do not know viyoga .

Obviously, when I say you will come upon your bondages only when you fall in love, I am assuming that you understand that one has to fall in love with someone outside her province, somebody outside the prison. Even love can be an enabler, a supporter of bondage if you fall in love with someone inside your cell. So, now the two of you are inside the same prison cell and there is a happy wedding, and you create your happy nest inside the prison. Now, who wants freedom? Who wants liberation? Inside the four walls is your entire universe—who wants freedom from those walls, then?

So, when I said love, I meant the love that enables freedom, the love in which your beloved is beyond you, much higher than you. Otherwise, love can be a very, very crippling thing. Instead of enabling you to fly away, it can rather clip down your wings. Even if you want to fly away, the so-called normal love will just make you forcibly remain a thing of the nest.

Now, what do we do? Coolness is dangerous, happiness is dangerous, it turns out even love is dangerous. Who will come to our rescue then? Nobody but our own honesty. Even to fall in love you need some honesty. Mostly love is a very, very dishonest pursuit. If you are in love, you must be in love with the free one. What if the enslaved one chooses another enslaved one? What kind of love is that?

So, now you see the relation between love and liberation as well. Love is love only if it liberates. You may even say that you have to fall in love with liberation.

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