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Chapter 66 - Without responsibility there is no freedom
Freedom is one of the most important factors in life. Man has fought politically for freedom all over the world. religions have promised freedom, not in this world but in another. In the capitalist countries, individual freedom exists to some degree, and in the communist world it has been denied. From ancient times freedom has meant a great deal to man, and there have been its opponents, not only political but religious- through the Inquisition, by excommunication, tortures and banishments, and the total denial of man's search for freedom. There have been wars and counter-wars fought for freedom. This has been the pattern of man's endeavours for freedom throughout history.
Freedom of self-expression and freedom of speech and thought exists in some parts of the world, but in others it does not. Those who have been conditioned revolt against their backgrounds, and react in immature ways. This reaction, which takes different forms, is called "freedom". The reaction to politics is often to shun the field of politics. One economic reaction is to form small communities based on some ideology or under the leadership of some one person, in which authority is denied and an attempt is made to be self-supporting, but these generally disintegrate. The religious reaction against established organizations of belief is to revolt, either by joining other religious organizations or by following some guru or leader or by joining some cult. Or one denies the whole religious endeavour. Don't all these indicate mere outward movements toward freedom?
One thinks of freedom only as freedom of movement, either physical or the movements of thought. It appears one always seeks freedom on the surface, the right to go from here to there, to think what one likes, to do what one likes, to choose, and to seek wider experiences. Surely this is a rather limited freedom, involving a great deal of conflict, wars and violence. Inner freedom is something entirely different. When there is deep, fundamental freedom, which has its roots not in the idea of freedom but in the reality of freedom, then that freedom covers all movement, all the endeavours of man. Without this freedom, life will always be an activity within the limited circle of time and conflict.
So when we talk of freedom we are talking of the fundamental issue. It is not a freedom from something, but the quality of a mind and heart that are free, and in which direction does not exist. Freedom from something is only a modified continuity of what has been, and therefore it is not freedom. When there is direction, and therefore choice, freedom cannot exist; for direction is division and hence choice and conflict.
There is no such thing as individual freedom, but only freedom. The word individual in its very meaning implies indivisible, not an entity opposed to the collective. But we have made a concept of individuality with its peculiar characteristics, tendencies and so on which are the response of conditioning, and we oppose it to the collective. This conditioning is part of the culture-economic, social and so on-in which the mind is educated. Freedom lies beyond this conditioning, not within the field of consciousness with the content that makes up consciousness. The responsibility that lies beyond conditioning is different from the responsibility of so-called freedom.
The responsibility of a conditioned mind is irresponsibility, which can be perceived in the present cultures of society, whether of the East or of the West. This irresponsibility is shown in education, in social injustice, in national divisions with different ideologies leading to competition, wars, starvation, affluence and poverty. The irresponsibility of organized religions is shown in their support and maintenance of these cultures. These religions preach morality, but sustain corruption. They are at war with each other, asserting that they alone have the truth, that their gods and saviours are the real. This irresponsibility is shown when an intermediary is placed between the real and the human. This irresponsibility is shown when temples, mosques and churches become a power in the land.
Responsibility has quite a different meaning when there is freedom. responsibility does not deny freedom, they go together. When there is the deep fundamental reality of freedom, responsibility is concerned with the whole of life and not with one fragment of life; it is concerned with the whole movement and not with some particular movement; it is concerned with the whole activity of the mind and the heart and not with one particular activity or direction. Freedom is the total harmony in which responsibility is as natural as the flower in the field. That response is not induced or imposed; it is the natural outcome of freedom. Without responsibility, there is no freedom. To respond to every challenge out of freedom is responsibility. It is the inadequate response that is irresponsibility. The mind that is dependent in attachment becomes irresponsible to the whole.
So freedom is love, which in its very nature is responsible to the flower by the roadside, and to the neighbour whether the neighbour is next door or a thousand miles away.
Compassion is the very essence of freedom.