Freedom has a broad range of meanings and applications. It can be an absence of restraint to merely a sense of not being unduly hampered or frustrated. To fully understand what freedom means in the context of this blog an understanding of its antonym bondage, is necessary. Bondage in the physical form is an infringement and restraint on ones’ ability to be free in his or her movements. Bondage though is not confined to physical restraint. Mental bondage which is not physical in nature is a far worse infringement on a person’s freedom than a physical one. Mental bondage manifests itself in three forms. There is bondage to emotional states. There is bondage to beliefs that give a person a closed mind about one or more aspects of life or life itself. And finally, there is bondage to a way thinking that creates negativity and pain. Although not looked at as freedom preventers, these three forms of mental bondage are far worse than any physical bondage could ever be. Before discussing each the following question is to be reflected on.
What does it mean to be mentally bound to something?
Mental bondage though rarely discussed has the same type of effect on a person as a physical one. It too results in restraint of movement but its manifestation differs. Physical movement and confinement occurs mentally by giving a person a “thought” that they can’t or shouldn’t do something. Although physically unrestrained a person is mentally hampered or frustrated by this thought and consequently doesn’t exercise this freedom. The mental nature of this bondage makes it worse than the physical form because it gives the illusion that a person has free will and has made a choice in this case not to do something. As this process is unconscious the typical person doesn’t know that he or she is mentally bound. Consequently, it manifests as normal free will thinking. This is difficult to become conscious of given the large number of people similarly situated who are mentally bound in the same ways and act in accordance with this mental restraint.
Mental bondage to Emotional States
In many western societal cultural countries being controlled by ones’ emotions is normal conduct. In these areas, it is common to find people who live their life in a constant reactionary way when they are emotionally stimulated. For example, being cut off by another driver while in traffic often elicits an upset or angry emotion by the person cut off. A person controlled by their emotions will curse at or throw up the middle finger at this person. Despite the stress put on the heart by being controlled by these emotions as well as not knowing if being cut off was intentional, being controlled by ones’ emotions like this is routinely accepted as proper conduct and behavior.
Mental bondage to Beliefs that give a person a “closed mind”
You have probably heard the phrase, “that’s the way I am, the way I have always been, and the way I will always be.” Is this the type of phrase that would come from a person with an open mind? Determining if this belief is binding can be done by asking the following questions. Is the belief true? Is the way one is today the way one has always been? And last is it the way they will always be? The answer is of course not for the person who has “not” abdicated his or her free will. Can you see how belief in this way negates the free will of a person and binds them to a way of thinking that keeps them mentally stuck in the same place possibly for the rest of his or her life?
Mental bondage to ways of thinking that creates negativity and pain
The human mind operates in opposites as a means of distinguishing. When I say up you immediately think about down. When I say male you immediately think about its opposite female. All of creation is dual in this way and the mind distinguishes between opposites as we live our daily lives. Without this distinguishing mental ability, we would not be able to tell the difference between a solid wall and the un-solid air. No one wants to be walking into walls thinking that they are air. Lack of knowledge about how the human mind operates leads a person to creating negativity and pain in their life.
Consider the following example. If I say I love pizza and eating pizza makes me happy, haven’t I just given myself a reason to be unhappy when I am unable to have pizza? Simply stated, did I have a reason to be unhappy about not having pizza until I first told myself that happiness was found by having it? Despite the lack of the manifestation of this unhappiness in an outward way, its manifestation is still present. A mental desire and longing for pizza although not considered as such is painful. The longer I go without pizza the more this longing grows until I begin to say things like “how come I can’t have pizza?” or “I’m a good person, I deserve to be able to have pizza,” or “what’s wrong with me why can’t I have pizza?” The more words like these are spoken the greater the frustrated feeling grows until one day it erupts like a volcano. Even though spoken words like this are not considered in western societal cultures to be reflections of negativity and pain they are in fact just that. In this case the failure to recognize how the mind cognizes puts us in the position of creating negativity and pain that didn’t exist previously.
The mental bondage examples presented in this blog “compel” a person to act or think in ways that are against his or her best interest. As a result, a person compelled in any of these ways is anything but free even if they are not physically restrained. Freedom then is a state of consciousness of being where one is not compelled in any of these ways. A state of being that results in a form of peace that all can have but few experience. A state of being that is indeed “free!”
Peace and Blessings!
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