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Our Freedom is Covered by so Many Conditions

by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja

He is wonderful. In the example of Vamana-avatara it is told of His “Wonderful Stride” – adbhutkrama. With one stride He covered the whole earth and with the next He captured the whole of heaven. He then needed a place to put His third step, but where? He is adbhutkrama. He, of wonderful stride – all His steps are wonderful. He is wonder personified – the source of all wonder to our tiny brain.

He is here, He is also everywhere. With His full representation He is everywhere and yet He is nowhere! Everything is in Him and nothing is in Him!

Krsna says to Arjuna, “Try to understand My peculiar position.” He is the Mystery of all mysteries. Even our own soul is astonishing to our worldly experience.

ascaryavat pasyati kascit enam, ascaryavad vadati tathaiva canyah
ascaryavac caiman anyah srnoti, srutvapy enam veda na caiva kascit

Bhagavad-gita 2.29

We do not even know the extraordinary nature of our own self. It is of a very high order.” But our attention is focused toward so many mortal things. We have been introduced to and captured by the meanest aspects of this world. This is the consequence of the mood of enjoyment.

We want to enjoy, we want to exploit – a good exploiter is a king to us. But exploitation in itself is degrading, very mean and low. It takes us to the lowest position and makes us victims of a great reaction.

Exploitation and enjoyment – we are in the midst of them and we do not know anything, cannot think of anything but enjoyment. We want to understand anything and everything in terms of enjoyment. We are in such a filthy degraded position: only, “enjoyment, enjoyment” – that is exploitation. But to exploit is the meanest type of nature. It is hateful and we must get out of the clutches of that ghost of exploitation.

There is another ghost – renunciation, idleness. But the noble thing is dedication – a dedicated life. There are two ghosts – one of renunciation; and the other of exploitation. We have to get out of that nightmare, that mania which is based on our tendency to measure things to be good or bad. In exploitation there is division into regular and irregular, or dharma and adharma. And then there is renunciation.

So many great stalwarts of that conception recommend a complete cessation of the dynamic life. A dead stop: but that should not be the prospect of any conscious man. A dead stop to life – is that any goal of life for the saner section? A life of nobility, a life of dedication, not ordinary dedication for the environment but to the Highest Good, the highest form of life. In the lower stage dedication is calculated; in the higher stage spontaneous, automatic, dynamically incalculable instantaneous flow!

Real joy is there. Joy resides there in quality and quantity, in every way, real life is there. Life is there and here it is casting the worst shadow, a perverted reflection. Yet we are told, uddhared atmanatmanam, the key is in our own hand. The freedom by which we can associate with anything good or bad and reap the accorded result is in our hand.

How is it so? We are parched for freedom and yet the key is in our hand? Ultimately, we are told that the key is in our own hand. No one else is to be blamed for our present condition. But there is always the possibility of noble help being extended to us, and we must accept that. Our past actions also influence us a great deal – whether they were good, bad or of the eternal aspiration – sukrti. But ultimately, the possibility of free action is not taken away from us at any stage – even if we are reduced to the level of taking birth as a tree!

There also, the freedom is within. It is hard to think that a tree has got independence – free will – but it is there, in a suppressed state. Freedom is within us also. We may try as far as possible to understand how it is so. Because our freedom is covered by so many conditions, we may think that we are not free – that we are forced by circumstances – it may seem so. Still, we are free for our selection of any path – good or bad. Our existence is very small and so, our freedom is also small and meagre. But it is there. Though almost negligible, still, it is – it exists.

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