Are we truly free or freedom is an illusion? Aren’t we all prisoners of our own philosophies?
You wake up in your house, use a toothpaste of your choice to brush your teeth, a soap of your choice to take bath, drive in a car, walk freely in the market, go to office, travel freely to places of your choice, watch television programs when you want and eat and sleep when you want. Can anyone say you are a prisoner? No way. A prisoner is locked in his cell, gets to eat only limited food, has to do work he cannot refuse to do and cannot do anything to get out the prison. The prisoner and you are not the same. Yet, at the level of the mind, we are all prisoners – prisoners of our own philosophy.
We are all philosophers whether we accept it or not or whether we speak philosophically when we are down a couple a drinks. What we think about our life is our philosophy. It consists of our beliefs, ideas, and assumptions of all kinds. There is no question we live our life with hundreds and thousands of beliefs. Some of them are conscious beliefs and many of them are tacit, hidden below our normal perception. Some beliefs are useful to live in society while some don’t make any sense.
For instance, you do believe that cleaning teeth with a toothpaste prevent bad mouth odor because you have some experience to back it up.
But you do not necessarily believe that the toothpaste will make your teeth sparkle like a diamond as the advertisers would like you to believe. You might have many more things to say about a toothpaste and brushing of teeth and all those ideas form your philosophy.
That was a simple example but as we live life, there are many things which are more complex than a toothpaste. Say for example, your philosophy about your work, how much should employees work in the office, what should be their attitude to work, what you think about your spouse, about men or about women in general, about politics, about economics, health, etc, etc. We all have come to certain conclusions about everything in life and we debate it out with our friends and colleagues. Despite the wide variety of positions and opinions about things and people, everyone believes that his opinion is the right one. We accumulate all these ideas and opinions and then because we are so imprisoned by them that all our actions that follow must be consistent with our previously formulated conclusions, even if we have lot of evidence to the contrary.
Lets say, that your job is not working out. It was good for the first 2 years but then it is no longer enjoyable. Yet because you want to show to the world that you love your job, you continue in it. Same with relationships.
So what starts as a mere opinion in the mind has the power to lock you physically into a pattern of action. Isn’t that living like a prisoner. You might have a choice but the options are limited so it is a pseudo choice. And most of us are happy with that variety. We are happy to live as prisoners because we get to watch a movie once a week or go out on a vacation once a year. And the situation becomes worse because everyone else is also a prisoner of his own philosophy. So very few even thinks of escaping or living a free life.
Life is meant to be lived in freedom. Yet we are afraid of that freedom. We create a pattern in our life. That pattern creates familiarity. In that familiarity, we feel secure and so continue in that. So even though we are free from the beginning, we enclose ourselves in to limited notions and ideologies. The one idea is especially very harmful, which keeps people in their prison is the idea of putting efforts to be free from the prison. There is no more ridiculous thing than that belief.
If you are in an open field, you are free to walk in any direction. Now somebody has created a pattern of roads and you cannot leave the road. In that sense you are prisoner of the road. But at the same time, you are free to wander off the road into the field anytime. That is freedom. You have always been free. The story of being a prisoner of philosophy is told just so that you recognize your eternal freedom once again and not be limited to be on the road forever. Then it does not matter whether you are on the road or in the field, it is just that in the mind you have no philosophy to get bound to. And that is awakening, enlightenment. Here is wishing that all of us live a free life with awareness and insight.