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The battle within human mind for freedom

Tribune News Service

The human spirit always craves for freedom. This is far deeper than the struggle for political, social or economic freedom. There is a sense in which spiritual freedom is fundamental in ensuring freedom in other spheres.

Can you understand the joy and relief felt by a man sentenced to death at the announcement of his pardon just before the hangman was to complete his job? Can you sense the “freedom” that he experiences on being given a chance to taste life once again?

Or think of another man, afflicted by cancer and whom the doctors pronounced as hopeless case. One morning he wakes up finding himself totally free from the malignancy. He goes to the doctors; they can not believe their eyes and declare him free from the scourge. How relieved he must feel!

Or again think of the Shakespearean endeavour to tell us the magnitude of the misery and guilt Lady Macbeth underwent after the commission of a murder. All the oceans of the world did not have enough water to wash away the sense of guilt she felt. Who will set her free again?

Freedom from guilt, from fears, from resentments, jealousy, resentments, pride and prejudices — that is the spiritual mann’s struggle for freedom throughout his life.

“Freedom of mind is the real freedom. A person, whose mind is not free though he may not be in chains, is a slave, not a free man. One, whose mind is not free, though he may not be in prison, is a prisoner and not a free man. One who is not free though alive, is no better than dead. Freedom of mind is the proof of one’s existence,” wrote Dr B. R. Ambedkar.

Yes, freedom has connotations other than what is associated with political liberty, flag hoisting or singing of national anthems. The struggle for freedom in the individual’s life seems almost doomed than even any nation’s fight for independence. That is why it is said that an individual who has gained mastery over his self is greater than one who takes (conquers) a city.

All religions affirm that the human race constitutes one family and that man must live with freedom in the community. There must be fraternity, equality and peace among them. The French revolution and perhaps subsequently there had been other sweeping efforts to achieve such ideals but in vain.

This clearly establishes the imperfections in man. Alexander cold conquer the legions of Persia, but he could not conquer his passions. Caeser triumphed in many battles but he fell victim to the desire of being a king. Bonaparte vanquished nearly the whole of Europe, but he could not vanquish his own ambition. Leaders, while accomplishing great tasks, had miserably fallen victims to their own passions. John Locke, philosopher, has written: “The most precious of all possessions, is power over ourselves; power to withstand trial, to bear suffering, to front danger; power over pleasure and pain; power to follow our convictions, however, resisted by menace and scorn; the power of calm reliance in darkness and storms.”

Every society today is in need of persons of character who would choose to be free from narrowness of mind and prejudices. Instead of erecting walls and barriers, they will build bridges. Tagore, witnessing the narrow domestic walls, prayed: “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where the knowledge is free, Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls; Where words come out from the depth of truth; Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit; Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever widening thought and action — Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake!”

A society of Tagore’s dream can become a reality only when individuals are able to set themselves free from the limiting factors of human nature. A battle is on in each soul between the “flesh and the spirit”. The sinful nature of man is reflected, according to the scriptures, in sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambition, envy, drunkenness and the like. All these make our globe a miserable place. Religious scholars, philosophers and theologians have been emphasising the need to set men free from the operation of the “flesh” and set them on the road to peace by teaching them selflessness, love, humility and the like. But no magic wand has been invented to bring about these changes.

In his book, the Psychology of Spirituality, Dr H. B. Danesh, a psychiatrist and leader of the Bahai community, calls for spiritualisation of lives, if we are to achieve the goal of freedom. According to him, modern man must learn to become “other-directed than self-centred; to be generous and self–sacrificing instead of selfish and egoistical. We need to able to postpone the gratification of our needs, to see ourselves as members of a body of humanity, to refrain from the much-valued but highly destructive competitive practices of our society, and to prefer others over ourselves, or at least to treat others as we wish ourselves to be treated.

In short, spiritual freedom demands that we abandon our materialistic values and adopt in their place those universal values based on the nobility of every human being.’’

M P K Kutty

©Copyright 2003, Tribune India (Chandigarh, India)

Following is the URL to the original story. The site may have removed or archived this story. URL: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20030817/ncr1.htm


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