COMMENTARY ON INNER FREEDOM
(2) What do you understand by being more free? Sometimes this Work has been defined as something to give more inner freedom.
Is inner freedom doing what you like as you are now?
As regards the last part of the question: "Is inner freedom doing what you like as you are now?" most people answer that it does not consist in doing what you like. At the same time I would say that it takes a long time to realize this. It takes a long time to understand that doing what we like does not give us freedom but on the contrary is really a form of slavery until we attempt more consciously to go against doing what we mechanically like. We then begin to see that doing what we like is not really what we do like.- When we are governed by our passions, by our mechanical impulses, by our having our own way, we are not really quite comfortable in ourselves. To follow self-will does not lead to any real satisfaction eventually. In a matter of this kind we have to start from a very sincere basis and not from a theoretical one- i.e. from actual self-observation as to what happens when we simply do what we like, say, from our lazy side, or from our sensual side, or from our jealous side, or from our negative side, and so on. I speak like this because it is so easy to say theoretically that one does not really like to do as one likes. We are always doing as we like. For example, we are always avoiding efforts that in a kind of way we know we should make, and until we can genuinely acknowledge that by doing simply what we like at the moment we are not at peace with ourselves and that something deeper lies in us, until we see that this is quite true, we do not quite understand what the Work is about. This point has been realized all through the ages and is one of the most extraordinary things in past experience. Is it not extraordinary to realize that people have always thought in all ages that they cannot simply do what they like? How can we account for this factor running through history unless we admit that other influences are acting on us than those of our self-will, of our appetites? Here lies one of the turning-points in our understanding of the Work. Here lies a realization that something else acts on us than just having our own way. But I repeat that it must be internally realized that this is the case and that pure self-gratification does not lead to any inner harmony.
Now as regards not doing what we like-we are first of all under the external laws of the country which prevent us through fear from doing many things that we would otherwise do out of self-will. This is the first check but please note that it is a purely external one. A man who obeys the law out of fear is not by any means a good man. Probably most people do not feel any other check in themselves and would, if there were no such thing as external laws and the fear derived from them, behave in a quite impossible way because there is no internal goodness of
Being. So first of all there have lo be external restraints built up by the law, to make any civilization possible. But there are also internal restraints that can act on us through the influence of the Work. These are connected with Real Conscience. In other words, we must learn lo distinguish between the two kinds of restraints. For example, through the development of "inner taste" we realize the unpleasantness of negative states. But there is no external law abet negative states. The police do not arrest you for being negative (but it weld be a very good thing if they did). All negative states in their full culmination lead on to violence, even lo revenge, even lo killing. Then, of course, the external law steps in. The Commandment "The shall not kill" is first of all a literal one and refers lo the actual law. But the psychological meaning is quite different and, as you know, psychologically we kill a great many people and otherwise mutilate and harm them-that is to say, if we really did what we liked we should be arrested by the police in this respect. The external laws therefore lo a certain extent prevent us from doing what we like, but the internal influences of the Work that can begin lo act on us if we emotionally feel the Work restrain us in a quite different way from doing what we like. As the Work grows richer in understanding and more subtly connected we begin to hesitate abet many things that 'we were unaware of before. We begin lo build up a new orientation to everything and lo everyone, a new house, a new inner architecture. When this begins we know that we cannot behave in certain ways, think and feel in certain ways, as we did before, with impunity. The whole approach to ourselves and the whole approach lo and conception of other people begins to become a much finer and far more interesting thing. When this happens we begin lo float, as it were, lo lift ourselves off the ground, lo learn how lo sail. From all this arises Second Body-i.e. some organized body that Consciousness begins to occupy, which is psychological, quite apart from our physical body and its reactions. Then we begin lo have life in ourselves, lo live in life and not simply lo be our reactions lo life. We begin lo live in our lives, and no longer to be simply of life, of the world, of mechanical reactions lo external events, external things. Our psychology begins lo be of the Work and not merely of life. Then we know that we cannot do as we like or as we did like, but have to follow, have, in fact, lo like, another range of ideas, another meaning of ourselves, another mode of living in our lives, instead of being simply our lives. If you simply do as you like mechanically you are on the Earth, as it were. There is nothing lo distinguish you from the Earth, from life and its incidents. When you raise yourself up through the influences of the Work you learn to tech the Earth differently. In fact, you come lo the edge of the Earth where it meets the sea, and then, so to speak, you begin to live in a different medium, to sail above the Earth, to be in some vessel that is not of the Earth, a vessel that is real so that you suffer if you step et of it. This journey, this voyage, has been often represented in esoteric myths, and this is the best way of understanding what the form of Second Body
means. This is a psychological body, a psychological room, that lifts you off the sensual Earth of yourself, and to maintain this body, lo keep it in repair and lo develop it, you have to like another set of liking, another set of values, a new set of ideas. The Work says: "Work against dislikes." Also it says in another connection: "Try lo like what you dislike, and dislike what you like." As I said, the best example is just to take negative emotions-which we like-and think deeply abet your relation to them, because when you realize that whenever you are negative it is your own fault, whatever the external cause, you begin lo have a completely new orientation formed in ye-a new psychological body. You will no longer take your pound of flesh, because if you do, if you like that, you will be right down on the Earth of yourself again and all Work-force will leak from you al once. Every atom of increased con¬sciousness will disappear and you will be right down in the clanger and confusion of ordinary life. You will lose this Body of the Work, this Boat, this Ark.
Now several people say that we must put ourselves under more laws to become free. This is exactly what the Work says. The Work says that a man must put himself under the laws of the Work-i.e. under more laws-in order lo reach any development, which is freedom. All freedom in the esoteric sense is due to inner development, both on the side of Knowledge and on the side of Being. This forms in us a new
level of understanding. A higher level of Being is always freer than a lower level. To gel to a higher level of Being you must put yourself under more laws than belong lo your present level of Being. We can either live mechanically according to the laws belonging lo our level of Being or we can begin to live in a new way more consciously accord¬ing lo the laws of a higher level of Being, and this is the object of the Work which leaches us what we have lo work on in ourselves lo reach a higher level of Being, not by simple obedience in a blind way but by an intelligent perception of the new Knowledge that the Work is speaking abet-that is, through understanding it, which is the most powerful force that we can create in ourselves. The Work is not a series of literal commandments lo obey like the Decalogue, but a series of new ideas, new insights, lo make us think and see in a new way, and gradually come ourselves to the truth of them from ourselves, from our understanding.
You know that as one ascends in the Ray of Creation one comes under fewer laws. It is very important lo understand this idea and this is why it is so often said that you must understand something abet the meaning of the Ray of Creation. Let us suppose our Being is under 48 orders of laws and we do just as we like. Now a man under 48 orders of laws is very far down the Ray of Creation and in a very bad world, as surely you can plainly see, for this is not a good world. Such a man can come under, lo begin with, 2¢ orders of laws, even while he exists on this Earth, and ultimately under 12, but in order lo gel this new free¬dom-because obviously lo be under 2¢ orders of laws is lo be in greater
freedom than under 48 orders of laws-he must put himself for the time being under more laws to get under fewer laws-i.e. he must obey the Work according to his growing understanding of it, and live more and more according to what the Work teaches. When he begins to see the necessity of this emotionally, he is already very close to a change in his level of Being, but this change will not take place as long as he sees the Work as something external, as merely a series of rules, or statements. When he begins to see the truth of the Work for himself that is the first stage. The next stage is when he begins to apply his will to it, when he begins to will what he understands of the Work in himself this is the second stage. Then he begins to pass under fewer laws by having kept more laws. This is the direction of freedom according to the Work, and according to all esoteric teaching. On the other hand, if he only obeys his own impulses and only gratifies his appetites and self-interests, lie then, so to speak, looks downwards and not upwards, or, if you prefer, he looks outwards and not inwards, and so he tends to go down in the Ray of Creation to the level of the Moon-i.e. he becomes a victim of his own appetites and self-will and puts himself more and more in prison and becomes more and more exacting or useless. There are many obvious examples of this, such as people who resort to drugs and so on. They obviously pass under more and more laws, simply by doing what they like, and become incapable of making any effort. Now all growth is through effort only. Esoterically speaking, it is only possible through right effort and for this reason we have to be taught by some genuine esoteric system what kinds of effort we have to make to grow. We cannot just grow by ourselves, by our own ideas. We can only grow through quite new knowledge, new ideas, and quite new conceptions of our feelings of ourselves and what we are. Here all the Work-teaching about making Personality passive comes in, because as long as we are under the full influence of Personality we are not by any means free and perhaps if we have any trace of real Magnetic Centre in us we have probably realized this even before we met the Work. To become more free means a change in the level of Being, upwards-that is, inwards. It means a deeper understanding of ourselves and of other people and of the meaning of life and why we are down here. If we are capable of growth and if we feel a genuine desire to come under the influences of the Work, then this change in the level of Being will increasingly take place. It may start from a very small seed, a very small but genuine experience which has impressed us. Then this point has to struggle with swarms of bad `I's, wrong attitudes, wrong states. Yet if this seed is planted it will grow eventually, provided one gets sufficient help, a continual reminder of the ideas of the Work. Then after a time it will grow without very much external help. And the direction of this growth upwards or inwards is towards inner free¬dom, because growth means ascending the Side-Octave, diagrammatic¬ally speaking, towards the Sun, and so passing under fewer and fewer laws by freeing oneself from Personality. All these ideas must be
connected in your minds by private thinking about them, in order to understand what greater freedom means.
Now let us turn to the first part of the question: " What do you understand by being more free?" One person gives this example:
"One may have considerable worldly ambition, and in pur¬suit of it be constantly tormented by fears of the adverse effect one has on others who might forward that ambition. If then one can be brought to see the vanity of such strivings and that this ambition leads to nothing but anxiety and distress, and if, in obedience to a higher law, one can completely let it go, its power is broken and one becomes immediately free of it and its resulting worries."
Yes, this is quite true. The more identified you are with life, the more fear you will feel, the more you feel that you depend for existence on external things. The more identified you are with what is outside you, the more fear of loss you will suffer from. If your centre of gravity is completely outside you, say in money or possessions, etc., the more bound you are to external circumstances and so the more a machine you are, driven by external circumstances and dependent on them. For example, if your whole happiness depends on one person then certainly you become a function of this person, which surely cannot be right. I do not see how the idea of Self-Remembering can ever be understood if one's life is a function of some other person. Similarly, as one person says: "One can be in the power of a person to whom one has a negative attitude." This is right, only see it for yourselves. One can be wholly in the power of someone one hates. But is this Self-¬Remembering? No, it is to be purely in the power of the world, purely on and of the "Earth", purely in the power of the senses, of what one sees externally. I repeat that Self-Remembering has nothing to do with this. The feeling that you get from hating may seem to you a very strong feeling of `I' but this feeling is not you. It is on the contrary an 'I' that delights in hating and being cruel, whose domination you have passed under, and to whom you have dedicated your existence.
One person quotes something that was said in one of the previous papers about inner freedom. The passage was as follows: "The nature of freedom is utterly unknown to those who do not possess conscience, for they make freedom consist in doing exactly what they please." This is quite true and I will only add that if it is a question of Real Conscience you are not tortured by it but you are aware of it in a kind of gentle way, whereas if it is a question of Acquired Conscience you arc tortured by it. Real Conscience is never violent but its action is so gentle that most of us cannot hear it. We have to stop the traffic of life in us and begin to hear it-and it is far cleverer than we,
Here is one good answer that is very practical. There is an old Stoic saying that we are all tied in life as it were like a dog to a cart and that we have to accept things-i.e. not to be dragged by the cart but to run with it. I quote from the answer:
"I remember hearing it said in the early days of my entering
the Work that Man's position can be likened to that of a dog tied
behind a cart and being dragged along by the cart because the dog
resisted the chain that was leading him. If the dog had not resisted
the pull of the chain but had run along with the cart he would have
had greater freedom of movement. This is how I understood the
first step to inner freedom-to see our real position with regard
to the truth about ourselves and the laws we are under."
Yes, but a little more insight is needed. If we always object to everything and always expect what we do not find we shall be very identified with life and very much hurt by it--and so dragged along resenting everything. That is why the Work says that one of the very first things we have to do is to become passive to life-which is a very difficult thing to understand because we think we can do and we always think that things should be different from what they are. To practice not objecting to anything for a short time every day is a very good exercise and teaches you a lot about yourself and non-Work `I's. To be more passive to life means to be more passive to Personality.
One person asks : "Is there some degree of inner freedom in directed attention?" Yes, you are more free simply because you are in more conscious parts of centres which are under fewer laws. Different parts of centres are under different laws.
At the conclusion of one answer a quotation from Francis Thompson is given
"Sole fully blest to feel God whistle thee to heel Free
When his wings pen thee."
Yes, if you substitute for God the Work and realize what it really means to be called to heel by the Work. The trouble is that we indulge in all kinds of emotions and do not for a moment connect them with the Work or imagine that they have no bearing on the Work. You must all remember that it takes a long time for the Work to penetrate even as far as a few 'I's in us and that the majority of `I's have never heard of the Work yet in ourselves. We have to teach the Work to "all the heathen" as the Gospels say.
Several people speak of doing what one likes as doing what one 'I' likes. For instance, one person says:
"At this level `doing what we like' means following the impulse
of the 'I' in which we happen to be at the moment. This however
is not freedom, because second force in life will probably prevent
us from following that impulse for very long, and even if life is
kind to us for a while we shall soon be in another `I' which wants
something quite different. At this level therefore `doing what we
like' is really meaningless because there is no permanent 'I' to like."
This is a good answer. Each `I' has its own will and each `I' has
its own power over us at the moment and here comes in a paradox.
One `I' may do something that it likes and another `I' comes along and
dislikes what this 'I' has done. All these different wills form contra¬dictory lines and directions and provided we have very strong buffers we do not notice this and feel quite tranquil. It is a very dangerous state to be in when we see no contradictions in ourselves and do not feel a certain daily pain, or "heat", as the Work calls it.
I quote from another answer:
"I understand by `more free', freedom in part from mechanical¬
ness, from the power that people and events exercise over me;
from Internal Considering, making accounts, from useless self¬
accusations and a host of other wrong psychic functions. Freedom
from Attitude qua attitude, from Habit qua habit.
Inner freedom is not `doing what you like as you are now'.
That means the slavery of impulse, the will of the moment. The
idea I have of Inner Freedom is that it is not achieved by the
indulgence of the will of the moment but by a willingness to be
guided by Will born of the perception of the Truth. As perception
grows, Will grows and Inner Freedom is more fully felt."
Yes, this is quite right. If we begin to obey the ideas of the Work by seeing their truth and eventually realize what good lies in them, then we begin to be more free from the momentary wills of different 'I's¬ doing what they like. This means a more internal movement into ourselves and this is only gained by self-observation which moves us back from the outer pretence of ourselves. Self-observation increases Consciousness and increased Consciousness means a larger view, a wider sense of things-a more whole view.
One of you quotes something once said by Mr. Ouspensky: "You can do as you like so long as you remember yourself." This is quite true, only have you tried it? If you like to remember yourself more than anything else, then you can certainly do what you like, but you cannot expect this to happen just in a moment. You may understand just a little of what this means practically after many years of the Work and even then you are only just beginning to understand why this was said. You will not be able to do just what you like if you are in the third State of Consciousness. To do just what you like is mechanical: to be in a state of Self Remembering is conscious.