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Chapter 50 - Freedom has no opposite
Freedom is very necessary in our life. Freedom is obviously not to do what ever we like, though this has been considered freedom and has been the way of our life. We feel thwarted, inhibited when our desires are denied. From this arise our resentments, our feelings that we are set upon, and so a continuous revolt. We have followed this course of life and we can see, if we are at all thoughtful, that it has brought utter chaos to the world. Some psychologists have encouraged us to pursue our impulses without any restraint, to do what we like immediately, rationalizing such activity as necessary for each one's growth. This was actually the cry for many generations, though there was outward restraint, and now it is called "freedom" to allow the child to do what he wants up the ladder of his life, which is society. Perhaps, now, there will be an opposite swing toward control, inhibition, discipline and psychological restraint. This appears to be the story of mankind.
Added to this are the computer and the robot. The technology that is developing in this direction hopes to produce and probably will produce a computer with a human-like brain, but which may think faster and more accurately and thus give freedom from long hours of labour. The computer, too, is gradually taking over the education of our children: teachers and professors highly qualified in their various subjects can inform the students without actually being present. This, too, will give us a certain freedom.
Except in the totalitarian States, greater freedom is going to come to man and will perhaps allow him to do what he likes. Thus greater conflict may arise, greater misery and wars for man. When technology and computers with robots dominate and become part of our daily life, then what is to happen to the human brain, which has been active so far in outward physical struggle? Will the brain become atrophied when people work only a couple of hours or more? When relationship is between machine and machine, what is to happen to the quality and vitality of the brain? Will it seek some form of entertainment, religious or otherwise, or will it allow itself to explore the vast recesses of one's being? The industry of entertainment is gathering more and more strength, and very little human energy and capacity are turned inwardly so, if we are not aware, the entertainment world is going to conquer us.
So we must ask what freedom is. It is often said that freedom is at the end of drastic discipline and civilized control-"civilized" meaning in the sense of having literature, art, museums and good food. This is merely the outward coating of a confused, declining human being. Is freedom to have a choice of entertainment? Is freedom choice at all? We always consider freedom as being from something, from bondage, anxiety, loneliness, despair and so on. Such consideration leads only to further, and perhaps more refined, states of misery, sorrow and the ugliness of hatred. Freedom is not in choosing a political or religious leader to follow, which obviously denies freedom. Freedom is not the opposite of slavery. Freedom is an ending, not giving continuity to what has been. Freedom, in itself, has no opposite.
After having read this and studied it, what is my relationship not only to the student and to my wife and children, but to the world? really to understand the depth of freedom, one needs a great deal of intelligence and perhaps love. But the activities of the world are not intelligent and neither is my group of children. I spend most of my day with them. Have I this quality of freedom with its intelligence and love? If I have this, my problems become very simple. That very quality will operate, and what I thought to be a problem will cease to be one. But I really do not have this. I can pretend, put on a show of friendliness, but that is very shallow. My responsibility is immediate. I cannot say to myself that I will wait until I achieve freedom and this affection, love. I literally have no time because my students are in front of me. I cannot become a hermit. That will not solve any problem, mine or the world's. I need lightning from heaven to have this freedom and love, to break up this incrustation, this conditioning; but there is no thunderbolt, no heaven. I can allow myself to come to an impasse and get depressed over the matter; but it is an escape from the problem to completely enclose myself and thus be incapable of facing the actuality.
When I actually see the truth that there is no outside agent to help me in this dilemma, that no outside influence, no grace, no prayer will help in this matter, then perhaps I will have an uncontaminated energy. That energy may then be freedom and love.
But have I the energy of intelligence to dismantle the things that human beings all over the world, of whom I am one, have built psychologically around themselves? Have I the persistence to go through all this? I am asking these questions of myself, and I shall be asking them of my students in a more gentle and benevolent manner. I see the implications of all this quite clearly and I must tread very softly. The true answer lies in intelligence and love. If we have these qualities we will know what to do. We must realize the truth of this very deeply; otherwise we shall all be perpetuating in one form or another the confusion between human beings.