To understand the meaning of "your freedom," you need your wisdom, which is not the same as your knowledge. Knowledge refers to the information you have acquired, while your wisdom means using the information collected to apply to your everyday life and living. So, an individual can be knowledgeable but without being wise.
Then, what is your wisdom? And where does it come from?
Your wisdom is all about opening your thinking mind to find out how it perceives and processes not only all your life experiences but also all the information you have been exposed to through your individual five senses. Your perceptions and processes create the so-called “realities” in your own mind, and they subsequently affect how your mind thinks, giving you your beliefs, your attitudes, and even your self-delusions.
The reality is that you have both a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. All your past information is stored in your subconscious mind, which controls and dominates your conscious mind. In other words, your wisdom is your mental capability to separate the truths from the half-truths, as well as to discern and discover the self-delusions and the self-illusions stored in your subconscious mind. Without that mental capability, you will not fully understand your “freedom”, as well as your choice and obedience to do this and not to do that.
“The reason why man may become the master of his own destiny is because he has the power to influence his own subconscious mind.” Napoleon Hill
So, your wisdom is all about controlling your subconscious mind.
And this is how.
Your wisdom begins with having an empty mind, which is clarity of thinking. Your mind cannot think clearly with its many pre-conceived ideas and thoughts. Only an empty mindset can free you from the many shackles of life that might have enslaved you for years, keeping you in bondage even without your knowing it.
There was the story of a professor who visited a Zen master to find out more about Zen (an ancient Chinese philosophy).
During the visit, the professor kept on talking while the Zen master was serving him tea. At some point, the Zen master kept on poring tea into the teacup held by the professor even though it was already brimming over.
The moral of the story: If you want to get more information about something, you must have an empty mind first.
So, open your mind to empty it of any pre-conceived thinking.
Thinking is also a process of self-intuition through asking relevant questions to create self-awareness and self-introspection. It is the natural habit of your thinking mind to solve problems by asking specific questions. Solving problems with specific questions is self-empowering your thinking mind to attain wisdom because it creates your intent to learn, to discover, and then to change for the better.
Knowing the importance of asking questions and the continuation of asking more relevant questions is the way to attaining true human wisdom.
For example, to develop your empty mindset, do your reverse thinking—which is thinking backward by asking questions to find out how and why you might have your current thoughts of thinking with your attitudes and prejudices, as well as with your beliefs and emotions. Your reverse thinking may then show you that your so-called “new realities” are, in fact, distorted and even unreal.
Your wisdom has to do with your consciousness, which is acute awareness of your body in the now. For example, your consciousness of your breaths—that is, your breathing in and breathing out—relaxes both your body and your mind, and thus giving you clarity of thinking. For centuries, meditation has been practiced to improve the function of the thinking mind.
So, with consciousness, you may become more aware of what is happening to your body, as well as to others and to the surrounding around you.
Mindfulness is your mental sharpness to know what is happening in your mind. This may awaken you to certain universal truths about anything and everything in this world.
Impermanence is one of the universal truths. Everything changes with every moment, and nothing lasts forever. According to Buddha, human life is like a river. The water flowing in a river is like a progressive series of different but unified movements of water, all joining together to create the impression of being only one continuous flow of water. Likewise, your existence is moment-to-moment, with each moment leading to the next. It is your illusion that you, in this moment, are the same person in the next moment to come; just as the river today is not quite the same as the river yesterday. Even from a scientific point of view, Buddha’s point of view is true. Cell-division takes place continuously in each living being. The old cells in your body are continuously replaced by new ones; that is, you are constantly subject to change, and the change is a continuous movement, just like the flowing water in a river.
Nothingness is a universal truth derived from impermanence. Death will come in the end for all and sundry. This is the way of all flesh because you, just like everybody else, have a built-in mechanism in your genes to ensure your guaranteed mortality.
Spontaneity is another universal truth. Everything in life follows a natural cycle: what goes up must also come down—just as life is inevitably followed by death.
An empty mind demands a simple lifestyle with no attachments that often become distractions and distortions of your thinking mind. Attachments are things and people that define who you think you are. Your attachments may come in different forms, such as career success, good relationships, wealth and material possessions, and many others.
The truth is that you are who you really are, and not who the person other people think you are. Attachments only inflate your ego to distort your thinking mind. So, let go of your attachments to have an empty mind to live with humility.
The bottom line: With humility, let go of your attachments to live a simple lifestyle to have an empty mindset for clarity thinking that always asks questions and seeks relevant answers.
Now, with your wisdom, you may have better understanding of what “freedom” really means.
Freedom is not just about your right and your choice or obedience to do certain things in your life. Freedom has also to do with others—the oneness of all life. That is, anything is connected to everything; just as the English poet John Donne once said: “No man is an island.”
So, your freedom has a connection with the freedom of others, and it is your choice and your obedience that ultimately create your freedom and your bondage. More specifically, your choice or your obedience can turn your freedom into bondage, or your bondage back into freedom—more realistically, your freedom always comes with some bondage.
Copyright© by Stephen Lau