Mention the word “freedom” and almost every person on earth would wholeheartedly agree that freedom is a necessity. What most of us mean by this is freedom from something or freedom to do something. Children are always looking for opportunities to get free of rules laid down by their parents. Adults want more freedom in their relationships, while older people want freedom from disease, insecurities and loneliness. But what is true freedom?
True freedom is none of these things. True freedom means the power to be really you. Every one of us is unique, with our own basic personality, wants, desires, likes and dislikes. The sum total of all these makes us what we are. However, few of us are lucky enough to be in control of internal and external circumstances to be able to express our true selves. So we could end up being what we’re not. Family and society, friends and colleagues create circumstances — albeit perhaps with good intentions — that condition us, often forcing us to do or become what we are not. Invariably, it suits many of us too, to be what others want us to be, rather than to be ourselves.
A child who is well mannered and well behaved gets appreciated and rewarded, while one, who is rebellious, gets scolded and punished. In order to gain approval from others and to get rewarded, children automatically start playing roles which are different from their true selves. In this way, right from childhood, we lose our freedom to be ourselves, and become what others want us to be.
This situation could create plenty of conflicts and turmoil in us. When there is a mismatch between what we truly want to do or say, and what we are forced to, it results in stress. And stress, as is scientifically proven, acts on our body and mind, producing a lot of psychosomatic diseases. As an adult, when we suffer from chronic problems like headache, backache, acidity, hypertension, fatigue or diabetes, we seek medical attention, often not knowing that the root cause of these problems is our lack of freedom to be ourselves and to express ourselves freely. Medical science often treats the symptoms or the end results, without going into the metaphysical aspects of the disease. As a result, most treatments are lifelong, and although many of the diseases are controlled or cured at the symptom level, the cause which gave rise to these problems persists.