Freedom and Independence

Independence Day Run (photo: Rudy Girón/

Independence Day Run (photo: Rudy Girón/

Freedom is the absence of constraints and dependence. In the personal realm this can be confusing. For example, does being without constraints mean a solitary life? Or, how does a person reconcile freedom with the responsibility of a family? Independence holds admiration and aspiration for some, while others turn away in fear. We can be free, yet also be connected to others—freedom and connectiveness are not mutually exclusive.
Our search for personal freedom tends to focus on external areas like employment and finances, while often overlooking the inner dimension. One can strive to be free in his or her outer life but inwardly can be tied up with a lasso.

The ego continuously tightens the knots between fear and desire, while in between the tortuous mind weaves endless thoughts. They drag us over the bumpy territory of the past and future where freedom can’t possibly survive! The litmus test is to ask of every decision, “Does this take me closer to freedom or further away?” True freedom lies in the balance between the two.

No matter how independent we may be, however, it is an illusion that we are separate. In reality we are interconnected to all living beings. A simple reminder of this is when we sit down to a meal. If we are mindful of all the hands and earth’s resources that went into putting the food before us, there is a keen awareness of how we are part of one another and are all involved in one another. As John Muir said, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

There is no cash value to freedom—it only serves to connect us to ourselves and to others. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency.”  

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