Three Types of Freedom

Freedom is a loaded word. Feelings run very high as it is granted or denied. People argue about, fight for it, die for it…. Do we even understand what it is? Can you explain?

“Freedom can be of three types, and those three types have to be understood well. The first is freedom from, the second is freedom for, and the third is just freedom – neither from nor for. The first, freedom from, is a reaction. It is past-oriented; you are fighting against the past, you want to get rid of it, you are obsessed with it.

“Psychoanalysis tries to give you this freedom, freedom from – from the past traumas, childhood wounds. Primal therapy is based basically on the past. You have to go backwards to free yourself from the past, you have to reach to the first primal scream, then you will be free. So freedom means – for primal therapy, for psychoanalysis and for other therapies – that the past has to be dropped. You have to fight with it, you have to somehow manage, disentangling yourself from the past; then you will be free.

“As far as this freedom is concerned, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud are not opposed to each other; they both agree. Karl Marx says one has to become free from the past, all past social structures, economic structures. His approach is political, Freud’s approach is psychological, but both are rooted in the idea of freedom from.

“All political reforms are reactions – and when you react you are never free. This has to be understood. It only gives you an appearance of freedom, but it is never true freedom. Out of reaction, total freedom is not possible. Out of reaction, true freedom is not possible. And only total freedom is true freedom.

“You can go against the past, but just in being against it you are caught by it from the back door. That’s why it has happened again and again that with whomsoever you are fighting, you become like him. Choose your enemies very carefully, because you will be determined by them! Fighting with them, you will obviously have to learn their strategies. You will have to learn their tactics, you will have to learn their ways. Slowly, slowly, enemies become very alike – more alike than friends….

“The second idea is freedom for; it is future-oriented. The first is political, the second is more poetic, visionary, utopian. Many people have tried that too, but that too is not possible, because future-oriented you can’t live in the present – and you have to live in the present. You don’t live in the past, you don’t live in the future, you have to live in the present.

“Visionaries only imagine. Beautiful utopias they have imagined, but those utopias never become reality, cannot become reality.

“If you react to the past, you are determined by the past. If you forget the past and look at the future, you are still driven by the past, you are just not aware of it. Looking at the future you dream beautiful dreams, but they can’t change reality. The reality remains the same; dreams are very ineffective, impotent.

“The first, freedom from, is a reaction. The second, freedom for, is revolution. The third, just freedom, is rebellion. It is present-oriented. The first is political, the second is poetic, the third is mystic, religious.

“What do I mean when I say just freedom? Neither for nor against, no past, no future, just being herenow, just living moment to moment with no ideology, with no utopia.

“The real sannyasin, the real mystic, is not against the past, is not for the future. He is so utterly absorbed by the present that he has no time, no energy, for the past and the future. This is how the rebel is born.

“The rebel is the most beautiful phenomenon in the world. Buddha is a rebel, so is Jesus; Atisha is a rebel, so is Kabir. These are rebels. You will misunderstand them if you think of them as if they were revolutionaries; they were not. Neither were they reactionaries. Their orientation is totally different, their orientation is now, here. They don’t live for any ideal, and they don’t live against any ideal. They don’t have any ideas; no ideology exists in their consciousness.

“The sheer purity of this moment – they live it, they enjoy it, they sing it, they dance it. And when the next moment comes, they live the next moment with the same joy, with the same cheerfulness. They move moment to moment, they don’t plan ahead.”

Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Talk #25

Meditation has given me the sense of freedom of not belonging to any particular place, country or even nationality. It’s really great. I’ve felt able to move about without much fear and to be committed without feeling imprisoned. Why then, after nine years, do I feel a bitter sadness mixed with this sense of freedom?

“Freedom has two sides and if you have only one side of it, a single side, you will feel freedom mixed with sadness. So you have to understand the whole psychology of freedom.

“The first side is freedom from: from nationality, from a certain church, from a certain race, from a certain political ideology. This is the first part of freedom, the foundation of freedom. It is always from something. Once you have attained this freedom, you will feel very light and very good and very happy. And for the first time you will start rejoicing in your own individuality, because your individuality was covered with all those things that you have become free of.

“But this is only one half and then there will come sadness, because the other half is missing. Freedom from is fulfilled, but freedom for what? Freedom in itself has no meaning, unless it is freedom for something, something creative – freedom to sculpt, freedom to dance, freedom to create music, poetry, painting. Unless your freedom turns into a creative realization, you will feel sad. Because you will see that you are free: your chains are broken, you no longer have any handcuffs, you no longer have any chains, you don’t have any prison, you are standing under the starry night, completely free, but where to go? Then comes a sudden sadness. What path to choose? Up to now there was no question of going anywhere – you were imprisoned. Your whole consciousness was concentrated on how to get free, your only anxiety was how to get free. Now that you are free, a new kind of problem has to be encountered. What to do now that you are free?

“Just freedom in itself does not mean anything, unless you choose a creative path. Either you go deeper into meditation for self-realization – that’s what I was talking about: unless you become like Premda, pregnant – or if you have a certain kind of talent that has not been allowed to develop because of your fetters – you could not compose music because your hands were in chains, you could not dance because your feet were in chains. If you have a talent to be a dancer, then be a dancer. Then your freedom is complete, then the circle is complete.

“Freedom from and freedom for – this is not something new that you are facing. It is being faced by every person who struggles first for freedom and then suddenly finds, ‘Now that I am free, what am I going to do?’ Up to now, he was so occupied, so engaged, so very busy. Even in his dreams he was thinking only of freedom. And he has never thought about what he is going to do when he will get freedom.

“What has happened is beautiful. But something more is needed. You have to become a creator. You have to find some creativity that fulfills your freedom, otherwise the freedom is empty. You need either to create something or to discover something. Either bring your potential to actuality or go inwards to find yourself, but do something with your freedom.

“Freedom is only an opportunity for you. It is not in itself the goal. It simply gives you the whole opportunity to do whatever you want to do. Now you are free and you are feeling sad, because you have not used this opportunity yet. Meditation will do, music will do, sculpture will do, dancing will do, love will do. But do something with your freedom. Just don’t sit with your freedom, otherwise you will become sad.”

Osho, Sat-Chit-Anand: Truth-Consciousness-Bliss, Talk #14

“Freedom from is not true freedom.

“Then there is another kind of freedom: freedom for – the second kind of freedom, which is far better than the first. The first is negative. The second is positive: one wants to be free to do something. For example, you want to be free of your family because you are in love with music. You are not really against the family. You are for music, and the family creates a hindrance, so you escape from the family. You are not against the family, against the parents, but they want you to become an engineer and you want to become a musician….

“This is the second kind of freedom: freedom for. This is a positive approach, better than the first. The first type of person becomes a politician. The second type of person becomes a poet, a painter, an artist. The first freedom is negative, the second freedom is positive – but remember, they are aspects of the same thing.

“Even the first type of freedom at least pretends that there is some goal. Even the politician says, ‘We are fighting to be free – from this kind of society, this kind of structure, this kind of politics. We are fighting to be free from this society just to create another society. We are fighting for some goal, some value, some utopia, some ideology.’ Even he has to pretend that, because the negative cannot exist alone; at least the positive has to be talked about. So communism talks about a classless society, utopia, where everything will be beautiful, where paradise will have descended on the earth. It will take infinity, but that goal has to be given. Otherwise people will not fight for a negative freedom.

“So the negative implies the positive; and vice versa, the positive implies the negative. When you want to become a painter and your parents are not agreeing and your society thinks it is foolish, you have to fight with them. So freedom for will have something to do with freedom from; they both are together.

“The real freedom is the third kind, the transcendental freedom. What is that? It is neither from nor for; it is simply freedom. It is just freedom. That is moksha: just freedom. Neither against anybody – it is not a reaction; nor to create some future – there is no goal. One simply enjoys being oneself, for its own sake; it is an end unto itself.

“Freedom from creates the politician, the reformer, the social servant, the communist, the socialist, the fascist. Freedom for creates the artist, the painter, the poet, the dancer, the musician. And just freedom for its own sake creates the sannyasin, the spiritual person, the truly religious.

“Your question is, ‘We must be free. Yet where does freedom end and selfishness begin?’ The first two are selfish, ego-oriented. The first, freedom from, is very egoistic because it has to fight against. It is violent; it has to be very egoistic. It has to disobey, it has to destroy, it has to conspire against the status quo. It needs great ego. The politician is nothing but pure ego.

“The second, freedom for, also has ego, but more delicate, more subtle, not so gross as the politician’s. The musician also has the ego, but more delicate, softer, more gentlemanly. The poet also has the ego, but nice, sweet, not so bitter as the first. They both are ego expressions.

“Only in the third, pure freedom – neither against nor for – is there no ego and is there no selfishness, because the third freedom happens only when the ego has evaporated. If the ego is still there, the freedom may be either the first or the second. The third requires as basic the phenomenon of the disappearance of the ego, fana. One has to understand the ego to attain the third freedom.

“Watch the ways of the ego. Go on watching. There is no need to fight for, no need to fight against; there is only just one need: to watch and be aware of how the ego functions, its mechanism. And slowly, slowly out of that awareness, one day the ego is found no more. Because the ego can exist only in unawareness. When awareness comes and the light comes, the ego disappears like darkness. And then there is freedom. That freedom knows no ego.

“And that freedom is love, and that freedom is God. That freedom is nirvana, that freedom is truth. In that freedom you exist in God, God exists in you. Then nothing wrong can ever happen through you. Then your life is virtue. Then your very breathing is meditation. Then you walk and it is poetry. Then you sit silently and it is dance. Then you are a blessing to the world. You are blessed.”

Abridged from Osho, The Secret, Talk #6