What does freedom mean to you?

@rickScott posted this on the Musings thread, but I feel the question deserves a thread to itself (if that’s ok with Rick).

Freedom per Krishnamurti is freedom from psychological conditioning.

Freedom per the more conventional view is freedom of choice and possibility.

What does freedom mean to you?

Rick also makes an analogy which may or may not be helpful for some people.

Applying the metaphor of a painter and their palette of colors:

Krishnamurtian freedom is for the painter to use colors without being influenced by their past experiences with them.

Conventional freedom is for the painter to have access to a huge number of colors and to be able to use them any (damn!) way they want.

Looking into inner and outer freedom is I think a useful way to explore freedom.

Inner freedom is the freedom to think and feel in your internal world, outer freedom is the freedom to be and do in the external world.

Krishnamurti freedom is concerned mainly with the inner, conventional with the outer, though both address the inner and outer to some extent. (You can’t have one with the other.)

What comes up for me right here is the word ‘from’. I recall that the ‘freedom’ he spoke of was not ‘from’ anything?

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What would be the need to paint anything? Why be a painter? Why not be—in harmony—with the colors that already are, with the colors that things already have? If I am at odds with what is—if I mind giving color to things—then I am not free.

Being harmonious with the colors that already are is a manifestation of freedom. Another manifestation is being a painter. Another is being unmoved by colors. And so on.

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Is ‘universal’ mind free? If so then wouldn’t freedom for the brain be silence? Unlimited? Unconditioned? A silence that comes effortlessly when the limitations, boundaries of the self are discovered through awareness?

Freedom per Krishnamurti is freedom from psychological conditioning.

Freedom per the more conventional view is freedom of choice and possibility.

We could say essentially that there is

  1. freedom from the self


  1. freedom of (or within) the self

Depending on how this is meant, what you are calling “inner freedom” here sounds just as compatible with freedom of (or within) the self.

That is, the freedom to imagine, to invent, to create (with paints or with one’s imagination), are all varieties of freedom of (or within) the self.

I understand freedom from the self to be space in which the inner as self, as thought does not exist - but that can act in thought, can express itself in thought.

I recall K saying that, too, but wasn’t the title of one of his books “Freedom From the Known”?

Isn’t freedom being completely here now in the eternal present where knowledge isn’t always as necessary as we think it is?

Aren’t we bound and held by beliefs, fears, and desires we desperately need to be free of?

If freedom is not from what we are at this moment, what could it possibly be?

I think that the ‘from’ that he was objecting to was selective freedom ie. Free from the ‘bad’ stuff but not from the ‘good’?

Perhaps the most fundamental freedom is the freedom to see?

To find out anything there must be freedom, to find out what I think, what I feel, what are my motives, to find out, not merely to analyse intellectually, but to find out, there must be freedom to look.

(The Awakening of Intelligence)

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Freedom per se? Freedom in itself? And yet is freedom from self-centredness different from freedom per se?

I think maybe it is more a matter of what kind of freedom one is talking about and how one is using language. For example, freedom from a particular bad habit is not freedom from the whole habit-making machinery.

Isn’t this what he meant when he said that freedom is at the beginning? Without the freedom to see, we are totally in the dark?

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Yes. Usually we think of freedom as something ‘at the end’. But freedom is necessary to see anything really - whether ‘inside’ or ‘outside’; inside our consciousness, or nature, people, the world.

So freedom is awareness?

Yes. The freedom to be aware, to look, to see, to attend. But also the quality of freedom in that looking, seeing, being aware:

To look at that tree you must be free from worry, from anxiety, from guilt. To look you must be free from knowledge.

(The Awakening of Intelligence)

The brain must be free from its knowledge?
The brain must not be identified with its knowledge? There must not be in the brain a self image that says, ‘this is my knowledge’?

An interesting quote on the subject.

Complete freedom from thought.

So how is one to learn what freedom is? Not freedom from oppression - you understand? - freedom from fear, freedom from all the little things which we worry about, but freedom from the very cause of fear, from the very cause of our antagonisms, from the very root of our being in which there is this appalling contradiction, this frightening pursuit of pleasure, and all the gods that we have created, with all their churches and priests and - you know all the rest of the business. So one has to ask oneself, it seems to me, whether you want freedom at the periphery, or at the very core of your being. And if you want to learn what freedom is at the very source of all existence then you have to learn about thought. If that question is clear, not the verbal explanation, not the idea which you gather from the explanation, but if that is what you feel is the real absolute necessity, then we can travel together. Because if we could understand this then all our questions will be answered.

So one has to find out what is learning. I want to learn whether there is freedom from thought, first. Not how to use thought - that is the next question. But can the mind ever be free from thought? What does this freedom mean? We only know freedom from something - freedom from fear, freedom from this or that, from anxiety, from, oh, a dozen things. And is there a freedom which is not from anything but freedom per se, in itself? And in asking that question is the reply dependent on thought? Or freedom is the non-existence of thought? You understand? And learning means instant perception, therefore learning does not require time. I don’t know if you see this. Please, this is really fascinatingly important.[ I don’t know, I did it, I’m sorry!

Q: Could you repeat that?

K: I don’t know what I said sir, I’ll go on, we’ll talk about it. (end of quote)


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I found it interesting that the extract emphasises the relationship between freedom and the significance of being free from thought:

Is freedom the non-existence of thought?

Obviously, in order to look at oneself, or at anything, one needs a quality of freedom. That freedom to look implies some degree of freedom from thought, or otherwise there’s no space to look. This is our ‘Buddha nature’, as the Buddhists might say.

So seeing, looking, with the initial freedom from thought that this implies, may be our original freedom. Everybody has this freedom at least to a small extent, even if we fail to make full use of it.

At least to the extent that one must be somewhat free from knowledge to look at a tree, a cloud, a bird for a second, for a moment, before this is turned into knowledge, into memory.

Worry , anxiety, guilt , all that is thought. As is fears, believes, opinions, and so much more; including knowledge, isn’t it ? Does it mean one have to be free of thought to look, to see ?

Well, at least to the extent that

One may be burdened with worries for much of the day, but only the most unfortunate person is so burdened that they are never free to look at a passing face outside the window of a bus, or at a bird sitting on a branch.

Even to notice that one is worried or anxious implies some small space of freedom. So freedom - as I understand it - is the very first step. There may be more to it than that, but everyone has this basic freedom to look.