As one who is an observer I increasingly notice what I feel is a dysfunctional approach to being happy and free by members of this society. To be happy in life does NOT come about by having what one wants or getting your own way, I don’t care what the latest commercial says. Nor is about what happens to you on a day to day basis. These qualifications only lead to a narcissistic ego-centered state of enslavement and entitlement. Happiness is a consequence of living mindfully, responsibly, strongly, lovingly; by such principles of duty, fortitude, vigor, self-sacrifice, obedience, discipline, compassion, friendliness, respect, and self acceptance.
Happiness is not about getting what we want but embracing the challenges, the difficulties, and the blessings that come our way with elegance, devotion, and gratitude..even if we can not understand what purpose they could possibly hold.
Freedom and Independence; these aspects of living are in their true form primarily from the inside out. Even external freedom is something that is earned and maintained by responsible behavior. Every right includes a responsibility. The preoccupation with freedom as something one is merely entitled too is not something that is practiced or recognized in cultures known for producing people of wholeness and happiness. It reflects in our culture, where it exists, a pampered preoccupation with self, with ego. That kind of “freedom” is what generates a welfare state in society. Nor is freedom the same thing as doing merely what you want or getting your way. Talk about leaving the door wide open for ego centricity and the full narcissistic catastrophe!
Freedom is mastery of self.
Freedom is a mind condition-a condition of the spirit. All of us are free, if we but choose to exercise it. The true essence of your “self” in this regard is your mind, soul, and spirit. We all are always free to change our thoughts, improve our knowledge and understanding, cultivate elevated attitudes no matter what comes our way.
Freedom to do what you should comes before the freedom to do what you want! In time, with mastery they become one in the same thing.
As Siddhartha Buddha recognized, only he who conquers his self (his or her ego) is free.
Backbone is important, wishbones are just good for breaking.
A clue to self mastery practice is this: If one is in the habit of choosing fun over work, new over old, easy over hard; if your mood makes more choices than you do…. likely there is scant real freedom for there is little control of the self. One’s higherself, what I call one’s Noble Self, is left malnourished and denied the chance for authentic expression or discovery of life lived fully and robustly. “The true way is the hard way” Dogen accurately stated.
Responsibility is not an imposition. It is the ability to respond. In that regard it reflects an aspect of freedom.
Obedience is not contrary to freedom..it is the means. It is listening at its deepest point. As Kazantzakis said “Only they who obey a rhythm superior to their own are free.” That superior rhythm is the Noble Self. Obedience diminishes the power of the ego self. Early in life (and later) those who practice obedience to their parents, elders, teachers, learn to listen to their own Noble Self.
Duty and Discipline are not a restriction or impediment to freedom or happiness. They are the WAY to freedom. They are the digging of the Tunnel.
In the Count of the Monte Cristo it was not digging the tunnel that was leading to Edmond’s freedom. It was the study of all those subjects and the training he was given (read the book..he wrestled with why he had to study certain topics et. all ) that was the real digging that lead to his freedom, and fulfilled life. It was not necessary in the story for the ‘priest’ to dig out, because he was already free.
So I encourage you to listen more closely to your Noble self and tune in to what happiness and fulfillment comes with self mastery and a life elevated above the cravings and aversions of the ego-self.