Freedom in today’s society has many meanings. Some understand freedom as the ability to do whatever they want. Others feel that freedom entitles them to care only for themselves, “not even willing to lift one finger to benefit the world.” Neither way leads to true freedom. Buddhism teaches that true freedom is not freedom of ignorance, not the freedom to indulge, and not sensual freedom.
If we wish to gain true freedom we must discipline both body and mind. The body should be relaxed, yet not indulgent. The mind should be at ease, calm, peaceful, still, focused, and without delusive thought.
How can we achieve this?
- We can engage in contemplation and reflection; reflecting inwardly to maintain awareness of each thought.
- We can work to attain bodily freedom by refraining from killing, stealing, and sexual offences.
- We can avoid malicious speech, cursing, lying, and frivolous talk.
- When we see pleasing things or hear beautiful sounds, we can avoid greed or the desire for yet more.
It is through self mastery we are able to achieve true freedom.
Adapted from the transcript of a Dharma Talk given by Grand Master Wei Chueh, Chung Tai Magazine: Issue 87 11/22/06 v.01, April, 2007 v. 02