A Journey of Self Discovery - Study circle, Week 6 and 7

Week 6 and 7
Fri 8th and 15th  April 2016
Topic for Discussion: Inner freedom vs External freedom

A man may be in jail, trapped by the confines of metal bars, but in thought, he may be completely free. Conversely, a man may be free to roam the streets, but may be entirely trapped by worries of life. Whilst both are extreme examples, both give rise to an interesting question:

Is it better to be inwardly trapped, but be physically (or outwardly) free, or is it better to be outwardly trapped but inwardly free.

Mahathma Gandhi famously said on this topic  “The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within”

So can it then be said that until a person is relieved of their inner turmoil, they will forever be swayed by the outside winds of change? Raj Singh was nominated to present the topic for discussion.

He started of by asking the question “What is freedom”. He said it is sometimes a word is best explained with its opposite. The opposite of freedom is entrapment. As an example, Employers provide a ‘no smoking’ area to their employees; the employees are free to smoke  in this are. But are they really ‘free’? Whilst they are externally ‘free’, internally they are slaves to the desire of wanting that sensation smoking tobacco. Likewise, when a country gets freedom from a tyrannical regime, do they people really feel like they are free? Despite the fact that the old rulers will be replaced by the new rulers, they will still be ruled!

So essentially even if we are externally free, we continue to be inwardly trapped do we not? What do you scriptures say about this? In a completely paradoxical way, they say complete independence (or freedom) lies in having complete dependence on the Lord and the Guru.

Let’s take the example of Sudama and Ravana. Sudama was the poorest of the poor, whilst Ravana, the 10-headed demon represented the epitome of materialistic wealth. Out of these two, who was truly free? Ravana could get anything he wanted, whilst Sudama would not when he would get his next meal. Despite the external freedom, was it not Ravana who was actually trapped? Despite knowing that capturing Sita would lead to his downfall, did it stop him from doing so? On the other hand Sudama, despite having very little in the way of possessions, lived a peaceful, content life. Ultimately he received the grace of Krishna whilst Ravana would suffer a tumultuous end to his reign as the King of Lanka.

With this introduction, the discussion floor was opened to all. Some extremely thought provoking points were raised. Three key take home points were agreed upon by the group

  1. External freedom only results when you are internally free!
  2. Inward freedom comes when we are content with ourselves
  3. The best way to remain content is to surrender in your guru or  the lord and accept whatever that happens in your life as their wish

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