A speech to the RSA – Royal Society for the encouragement of arts, commerce and manufactures – 24 May 2023
You and I are already free – completely free – all we have to do is find it, fund it and feel it – but it’s not that simple.
Before we can find freedom, we need to know what it is. What most people understand as Freedom is really Liberty and the two concepts are quite different.
To paraphrase Viktor Frankl in ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ about his experience in the concentration camps – they can take away your liberty but they cannot take away your thoughts’ and your thoughts are the essentials of your freedom.
It’s not something we fight for or ask to be granted – that’s liberty – a physical, third dimensional thinking concept, Freedom is a fourth dimensional thought form which extends beyond the three dimensional world – detached from the idea of liberty.
Freedom is both logical and emotional. We find it in our conscious and subconscious thoughts, and in the feelings we have in our heart and in our ‘gut’.
Once we understand and accept all this, we are able to find it and once we know it’s there inside and cannot be taken away (unless we choose to give it up) before we can get to feel really free, we have to fund it.
Freedom, true personal freedom cannot be bought with money. Liberty can but that’s a different matter. I call this ‘funding freedom because we need to do certain things and make some compromises or arrangements to achieve the type of freedom we want.
Oh yes, there are different styles, colours and shades of freedom. One person’s idea of freedom will not be the same as another’s and there are a lot more than 50 shades of freedom!
I have a friend whose freedom is to spend most of his time on a sailing yacht small enough for him to handle by himself and when he’s at sea on the boat he relinquishes his freedom to do many other things. He also needs to find a way of funding this financially, so he’s created a residual income alongside his pension. I could give lots of examples, but I think John is as good as any.
You see we must each choose what we want our own personal freedom to look like and do all the things which need to be done, or not done, to establish and sustain it.
Many people who’ve not gone through these stages still feel, or think, they are free. I have many examples of who’ve done what they want and followed their ‘dream’ but although they’ve felt ‘free’ at the time it hasn’t really worked out.
Because they looked at it from an outside perspective without the understanding of freedom coming from the inside they were only ‘at liberty’ to do what they wanted to do.
In another nautical example a friend of mine decided in her late thirties to purchase, renovate and train to master and old two masted sailing ship, a former Baltic Sea freighter. The adventure went on for several years but what started as dream turned into a trap. Most of the time she was worried about how she could keep going financially and emotionally. Sailing a ship around the world can be stressful even with a competent crew especially when they and the ship are your sole responsibility. Eventually she had to sell it and sadly it ended up as a wreck in Holyhead Harbour. Because she didn’t properly ‘fund’ or prepare for it she didn’t really enjoy her ‘freedom’. It became a burden and still weighs heavily on her.
Funding freedom requires a decision or series of decisions together with consequent choices. We create a vision of how we want our life on this planet to be for a period.
There may be a series of things we want to accomplish but we can’t do it all at one. We choose freedom to do one thing which prevents us from being free to do another (at the same time). I suppose this should have been called ‘planning’ our freedom – but I needed it to start with ‘F’.
We can only really feel free if our understanding of personal freedom has a strong foundation and isn’t based on a false premise of liberty but on the spiritual grounding of understanding what it is, why we want it, and what it ‘costs’ – the realisation we cannot be totally free but have to give up some freedoms to enjoy others.
It’s difficult to describe how we ‘feel’ freedom. It’s difficult to describe how we feel other emotions such as love or fear. For me, feeling freedom is a sense of serenity, of fulfilment and of peace; knowing I’m in the place I want to be and knowing where I’m going next and that I’m able to get there.
I’ll leave you with a thought from the late Wayne Dyer
“Authentic freedom is actually the freedom of knowing who you are, why you are here, your purpose in life and where you are going when you leave here.”