For forty-five years I lived in prison, mostly made by myself. Now I know it is possible to become more and more free. But what to do, when you feel you need a safe place, a good climate to grow? Another prison? How to be free anywhere, any time? I feel sorrow and rebellion in me about that.
Yvonne, freedom has nothing to do with the outside; one can be free even in an actual prison. Freedom is something inner; it is of the consciousness. You can be free anywhere—chained, in a jail, you can be free—and you can be unfree outside the jail, in your own home, visibly absolutely free, but you will be a prisoner if your consciousness is not free.
You are confusing outer freedom with inner freedom. As far as the outside is concerned you can never be absolutely free—let it be clear once and forever. As far as outside is concerned you are not alone, so how can you be absolutely free? There are millions of people around you. On the outside, life has to be a compromise. If you were alone on the earth you would have been absolutely free, but you are not alone.
On the road you have to keep to the left. And Yvonne will feel this is a great bondage: “Why? Why should I be forced to be on the left? I am a free man. If I want to walk on the right I will walk on the right. If I want to walk in the middle of the road I will walk in the middle of the road.” In India you can do it—India is a free country, remember! It is the greatest democracy in the world, so right, left, middle, anywhere you can walk!
But one man’s freedom becomes so many people’s problem. You are free to be yourself, but you should not be an interference in other people’s lives.
A man of understanding will respect his freedom as much as he will respect others’ freedom, because if nobody respects your freedom, your freedom will be destroyed. It is a mutual understanding: “I respect your freedom, you respect my freedom, then we both can be free.” But it is a compromise. I have not to interfere with your being, I am not free to trespass on you.
You want to sing loudly in the middle of the night. Of course you are a free person, and if you cannot sing loudly in your own house, what kind of freedom is this? But the neighbors have to sleep too; then there has to be a compromise.
On the outside we are interdependent. Nobody can be absolutely independent. Life is an interdependence. Not only with people are you interdependent, you are interdependent with everything. If you cut all the trees you will die because they are constantly supplying you with oxygen. You are dependent on them—and they are dependent on you because you are constantly giving them carbon dioxide. We take oxygen in and exhale carbon dioxide; the trees do just the opposite, they exhale oxygen and inhale carbon dioxide.
So when people like Mahendra are smoking, trees must be feeling tremendously happy because more carbon dioxide is being created for them! Listening to me these trees will be feeling very sad that I am telling you to go to the root cause of it and then smoking will disappear. That means trees won’t get as much carbon dioxide as they were getting before!
We are interdependent, not only with the trees—with the sun, with the moon, with the stars. Everything is an interdependence.
Just tomorrow there is going to be a solar eclipse, a total eclipse. It will have tremendous effects on the life on earth. If you look at the sun directly you can go blind forever. Avoid looking at the sun—in fact, don’t come out. There will be every temptation to come out because in the middle of the day, near about four-thirty in the afternoon, you can see stars in the sky; just as in the night you have always seen them, in the middle of the day you can see stars. There will be great temptation to come out and see, but avoid it, don’t come out. It is dangerous to the eyes, it is dangerous to your nervous system, it is dangerous to your mind mechanism. Many people will go berserk, many people will go blind. Women who are pregnant should avoid coming out absolutely because the child in the womb is very very vulnerable. He has no safeguards yet; he is soft, so soft he can be affected by anything. And in the solar eclipse, when it is total, dangerous rays enter into the atmosphere.
So when the eclipse happens I would like all my sannyasins to go inside their rooms, close the doors, sit in deep meditation. It will last only a few minutes. Avoid the temptation of coming out, and don’t try to find out devices through which you can see it without being harmed. No device is absolutely foolproof; it is better to avoid it.
Now life is so interdependent… the sun is so far away. It takes ten minutes for the rays of the sun to reach to the earth, and rays move with tremendous speed—one hundred eighty-six thousand miles per second. But we are related to other suns and other solar systems too. Everything in existence is interdependent, so you cannot be absolutely free on the outside—and there is no need either.
Enjoy this interdependence. Don’t call it bondage. It is not dependence, it is inter-dependence. You are dependent on others, others are dependent on you. It is a brotherhood, it is relatedness. Even the smallest grass leaf is related to the greatest star.
But in the inner world, in the inner kingdom, you can be absolutely free. So the whole question is of the inner. And then, Yvonne, you will not feel sad and rebellious; there is no need. Understand that the outer interdependence is a must, it is inevitable; nothing can be done about it. It is part of how things are. Accept it. When nothing can be done about it, acceptance is the only way. And accept it joyously, not as a resignation. Accept it! This is our universe; we are part of it. We are not islands, we are part of the whole continent. We are not egos.
Yvonne, your idea of freedom is rooted somewhere in the idea of the ego. We are not egos. The ego is a false entity—because we are not separate, how can we have egos? It is good as far as language is concerned; it is utilitarian to use the word ‘I’, but it has no substance in it. It is pure shadow, utterly empty. A useful word, utilitarian, but not real.
But inner freedom is possible. It happens as you go deeper and deeper into awareness. Watch your body, watch your thought processes.
Just the other day Buddha was saying: Watch, witness the whole process of your thoughts. And slowly, slowly, you will see you are neither anger nor greed, neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian, neither Catholic nor communist. Slowly, slowly, you will be aware that you are not any thought—you are not mind at all. You are a pure witness. The experience of pure witnessing is the experience of total freedom, but it is an inward phenomenon. And a man who is inwardly totally free has no hankering to be outwardly free. He is capable of accepting nature as it is.
Yvonne, create inner freedom through witnessing. Sannyas is only for the inner freedom. And live out of inner freedom and then you will be able to see the interdependence on the outside. It is beautiful and it is a blessing. There is no need to rebel against it. Relax into it, surrender to it. And remember: only a person who is really free can surrender.
From The Dhammapada, the Way of the Buddha, V.9, Discourse #4
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