True freedom lies within

Publish Date:Jan 26, 2016

Republic day may seem like just another holiday for most of us. But who can deny the patriotic spirit that rises in us when we listen or watch an inspiring national sentiment in movies or popular media? In fact, it is a beautiful experience even today to watch live stream of Republic Day celebrations from Rajpath, Delhi. At least on Independence and Republic Day, we thank the generations who staked their lives for the freedom we enjoy today. It’s Love and Peace which won us our freedom from British. It’s liberation from slavery, experiencing right to speech or expression, no coercion. We have to feel truly like free birds to govern ourselves and our actions. But do we really feel that we are free to act as we feel like?

Imagine if someone takes control over our house, our loved ones and we all have to operate as per the instructions laid down by them. How does it make us feel? What a dreadful feeling it is, if we are at the mercy of someone! If such a dreadful feeling is created when someone takes over our physical boundaries, what happens if our personal boundaries at mental and emotional space are taken over by someone? Although we are in an independent country, do we experience true freedom? Are we not at the mercy of someone or other all through our lives for our happiness?

We may or may not realise but at emotional level, we are all bound, we don’t truly experience freedom. We perform actions because we don’t want to hurt people around us. We do most things in life because we seek love, acceptance, approval and validation from the people who are around us. When we are always dependent on someone else for our happiness, is there any real freedom for us? I still remember those days, where we were told someone else’s happiness is more important than ours. Someone has to approve of what we do or don’t do. Someone else has to love us. So in order to receive this acceptance and approval from others, we don’t mind moulding ourselves to meet their requirements, ignoring our peace and happiness. While doing all this, the whole world may be appreciating us but there is one person who is left to feel sad and that person is within us. Many of us do things not because it makes us happy, but because the other person may make us happy. If we look keenly, the other person for whom we were running that extra mile can also never remain happy with whatever we do for them. In the initial days, it may seem to be a good thing to run that extra mile to keep someone happy. Within few days, you would realize that you are unhappy from the time you started running that extra mile. And an action done in your unhappiness cannot bring the other person true happiness. By seeking something outside of us, we tend to bind ourselves, we let go of our freedom wilfully. It’s like asking invaders to come and take over our place. But do we really need to exchange our freedom for seeking happiness or love?

I recently came across our old family album, the old fashioned physical photo album. I was flipping through my oldest snaps, when I was just one year old to five years, ten years old and till the recent picture. I was reflecting, along with my physical body, my own definition of me changed over the years. Not only that, my own definition of me is different from definition of me as others saw me. Over all those years, many people have walked into my life and many walked out of life. When I was a kid, my parents were the center of my life and their approval or validation was very important for me. When I started going to school, my friends and teacher’s approval or validation was important. Over these years, many people have contributed to many experiences, feelings and emotions. But people kept changing, the only one that was constantly there in my whole story was me! I was WITH ME all the time, in all situations. It was me who was feeling the way I am feeling and it was only me who could understand exactly what I am experiencing. But the irony is, I was never really there FOR ME. I was always waiting for someone outside of me to understand me, to approve or validate my actions and feelings and to love me. How many of you resonate with my story?

We all want to have a close friend or a partner who can fully understand us and be on our side constantly, a best friend and a cheer leader. Someone whom we can buzz even at middle of the night if we need to.  It’s a wonderful feeling to have such friends all through our lives. Unfortunately, not many of us have that luxury to have someone all through our lives. People come and go out of our lives, change is such a constant thing in our lives.

Isn't it lovely to have someone to accept us just the way we are, without any kind of condition? Someone to love us for who we are, without expecting anything in return? Someone in our lives all through to validate and appreciate us that we did a great job? It is definitely just too wonderful. So just to achieve this, we tie up all of our feelings, thoughts and actions with someone or other, to please them or to make them happy so that they can accept us, love and approve us. In the process, we become utterly dependant on that one person, the person may change from time to time in our lives but our shackles remain same. While all along, there is such a wonderful friend already waiting for us. That one is always with us and within us, our own Self! We do not have to crave for someone outside of us to give love, to accept us the way we are and to validate what we do. We just have to be fully available for our own self.

Can you be there for you? Can you spend a little time with that one within you, the only one who stood by you, understood you, never let you down at any time, during all those happy and sad times, the one who can never dislike you because of what you did or didn’t do? If you can, you become free - you achieve freedom from expectations, freedom from seeking love, freedom from emotional dependency, freedom to feel and act as you choose. The moment we start spending more time with the one within us, start acknowledging and extending love to this one, it sets us free from all those bindings, from the eternal seeking of approval, love, acceptance, validation from outside. Only then we can say we are truly free and as a bonus, even be a source of love for others.

-Ramakrishna Maguluri
Engaging with life

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